The inaugural European Masters got under way on Monday as Romania stages a professional snooker tournament for the first time this week.
The final 34 competitors following the initial qualifying stages in Preston a week ago have descended on Bucharest in hunt of the €75,000 winner’s cheque.
Crowd levels at the Circul Globas were a little sparse on the opening day, in contrast to the couple of very well-attended exhibitions staged in the country in the past year, but it is hoped numbers will rise as the event progresses.
Fan favourites Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Selby, who both featured in the mentioned exhibitions, comfortably won their held over last 64 encounters.
O’Sullivan whitewashed Daniel Wells while the world champion recorded a similar, albeit much more impressive, 4-0 rout of Ireland’s Fergal O’Brien.
Selby notched runs of 109, 88, 71 and 50 as he limited the Dubliner to a mere 59 points during the one-sided contest.
Several encounters in the first round proper, or last 32, were also completed as the likes of Neil Robertson and John Higgins advanced to the next stage.
Higgins fired in a 118, the highest of the day, and a 104 as he thrashed Michael Holt, who bettered (?) O’Brien’s low scoring with a tally of just 31 points.
Meanwhile, Robertson was embroiled in a high-scoring battle with Graeme Dott – the player whom he defeated to claim his one and only world title in 2010.
Dott compiled breaks of 87, 73, 57 and 53 but somehow only won two frames as his opponent responded with a 112 and further breaks of 71, 70 and 53 to prevail 4-2.
Elsewhere, the intriguing tie between two of this season’s ranking event winners, Anthony McGill and Ali Carter, inevitably went the distance.
In another affair which boasted heavy scoring, the Scot got the better of the World Open champion with runs of 107 and 96 seeing him squeak through.
Barry Hawkins similarly required all seven frames as he battled past Michael Wild in a tense deciding frame thriller that reached the colours.
The biggest upset of the day came in the form of Andrew Higginson’s 4-0 drubbing of Marco Fu, with the Hong Kong cueist really struggling for form so far this campaign.
Ricky Walden, Tom Ford and young Scot Rhys Clark were the other winners who advanced to the last 16.
The first round wraps up on Tuesday with Selby and O’Sullivan returning to action, along with the introduction of Shaun Murphy, Judd Trump and Mark Allen.