It was a mixed second day for Irish duo Fergal O’Brien and Ken Doherty after another busy round of qualifying for the Shanghai Masters in Barnsley.
O’Brien managed a hard-fought 5-2 victory over Allan Taylor to reach the penultimate round but his fellow Dubliner lost the last two frames in a 5-3 defeat to Welshman Gareth Allen.
The defeat will continue to pile the pressure on the 1997 world champion, whose persistent slide down the rankings list is resulting in a struggle to stay inside the pivotal world’s top 64 this season – where an automatic tour position for the next campaign is guaranteed.
Allen was one of 14 lower ranked players who won their opening bout on Tuesday to go on and defeat one of the higher seeded cueists who entered the fray on Wednesday.
Northern Ireland’s Joe Swail, another notable name who may potentially struggle to maintain his pro status, similarly succumbed to talented 19 year-old Zhao Xintong.
The Chinese former world amateur runner-up compiled runs of 101, 81 and 75 to set up an intriguing clash with Jack Lisowski in the third round.
At around Zhao’s age, Lisowski was heralded as one of the future star names but it hasn’t quite worked out so far for the now 25 year-old.
The Englishman is 8/13 favourite in the latest Bet365 snooker betting to beat his younger opponent on Thursday but it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see Zhao continue his bid to qualify for his home event.
Zhao’s countrymen had an uneven day with Xiao Guodong, Li Hang, Zhang Anda and Mei Xiwen all advancing but Tian Pengfei, Zhou Yuelong, Yu Delu, Zhang Yong, Yan Bingtao and Chen Zhe all crashing out.
Elsewhere, Tom Ford couldn’t continue the run of form that saw him reach the final of the Paul Hunter Classic last weekend, with the Englishman downed in a decider by the much-improved Daniel Wells.
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, the maximum man who was a semi-finalist in Furth, also suffered as he lost 5-2 to Adam Duffy.
Un-Nooh’s fellow Thais Dechawat Poomjaeng and Kritsanut Lertsattayatthorn enjoyed heavy victories but, by contrast, James Wattana and Akani Songsermsawad fell in narrow defeats to Mark Joyce and Rod Lawler respectively.
Meanwhile, former UK and Masters champion Matthew Stevens required all nine frames to edge past compatriot Duane Jones, as other star Welshmen Dominic Dale and Jamie Jones also advanced.
Mark King avoided what would have been quite a big shock by winning the last three frames to deny Pakistan’s Hamza Akbar a famous triumph, while Andrew Higginson was also taken the distance before squeezing past Eden Sharav.
1995 World Championship runner-up Nigel Bond continued his resurgence of late by overcoming Jamie Cope 5-1, with Martin O’Donnell, Jimmy Robertson and Scott Donaldson progressing via the same scoreline.
Chris Wakelin followed up his 5-2 defeat of Ireland’s Josh Boileau with another 5-2 win, this time over Ian Burns, while Malaysia’s Thor Chuan Leong excelled with a brace of centuries in his impressive ousting of up-and-coming prospect Oliver Lines.
The preliminaries continue apace at the Metrodome with the winners from day two fighting it off against each other for the right to compete in Friday’s final round alongside the players ranked between 17 and 32.