The second round of the UK Championship began with a bang at the Barbican Centre in York on Saturday.
World champion Mark Selby survived a major scare in overcoming Daniel Wells 6-4 but Stuart Bingham, the world number two, wasn’t so lucky as he fell by the same scoreline to Yu Delu.
However, undoubtedly the performance of the day came from Ireland’s Fergal O’Brien, who in beating Barry Hawkins 6-5 knocked in an incredible five century breaks.
It marks as a record number of tons compiled by a single player in a best of 11 frames encounter.
In a high-quality battle between both, O’Brien countered runs of 95, 83, 78, 74 and 59 from Hawkins with a quintet of wonderful tons.
The 44 year-old began the contest with a 101 and then, when he was 4-2 behind, reeled off three tons on the spin.
After Hawkins forced a decider, O’Brien compiled his highest break of 113 to move into the last 32.
There, the former Masters runner-up will meet Stephen Maguire after the Scot triumphed against teen Zhao Xintong with a 128 of his own.
With Bingham’s unexpected defeat, in which he surrendered a 4-3 advantage by losing the final three frames, the draw for 2004 champion Maguire and O’Brien has opened up somewhat.
Yu’s reward for his latest giant-killing exercise – the Chinese 29 year-old beat Ding Junhui in Belfast last week – is an upcoming duel with Luca Brecel.
Brecel has endured a tough time of it since reaching the final of the German Masters way back in February, but successive victories here, along with a 4-0 rout of Shaun Murphy in the Northern Ireland Open, could help him end the year on a high.
Selby, meanwhile, fired in a brace of centuries but was fortunate to come away with a tight win against the much-improved Wells.
The latter squandered and opportunity to establish a 5-4 command which allowed Selby in for the kill and maintain his quest for a second UK crown.
Other former winners John Higgins, Mark Williams and Matthew Stevens each advanced to the third round as well.
Higgins, who has enjoyed a bumper November with two titles already to his credit, took four out of the last five frames in narrowly edging Noppon Saengkham 6-4.
It was a two-frame margin for Stevens too, the 2003 champion getting the better of an all-Welsh battle with Michael White.
Williams, champion in 1999 and 2003, found it much easier with a more comfortable 6-2 defeat of Andrew Higginson.
Elsewhere, there were a few more minor upsets as the live coverage on the BBC and Eurosport began in earnest.
18 year-old Zhou Yuelong hammered Michael Holt with five breaks above 60 while Welsh pair Jamie Jones and Dominic Dale got ones over higher seeded Scots Alan McManus and Graeme Dott respectively.
Mitchell Mann and Michael Georgiou, both ranked outside the world’s top 100, prolonged their stay in Yorkshire with victories against Sam Baird and Mike Dunn.
In addition, amateur Peter Lines, who conquered the reigning champion Neil Robertson in the opening round, produced another batting display in beating Chris Wakelin.
The Leeds potter will face Liam Highfield after his fellow Englishman pipped Wang Yuchen in a final frame shoot-out – ensuring a possible ticket for either into the last 16 of a major ranking event.
There was to be no early exit for Ali Carter, though, after a relatively routine 6-2 victory over Robbie Williams.
The second round reaches its conclusion on Sunday with the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy in action.
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