Josh Boileau produced the best performance of his fledgling professional career in beating Hammad Miah 4-1 in the first round of the Welsh Open in Cardiff on Monday.
The Irishman, the 2016 European Under-21 champion, has so far struggled to adapt to the Main Tour but demonstrated more of the kind of talent which has seen him earn rave reviews on the Emerald Isle.
In a comprehensive victory, Boileau recorded breaks of 53, 69, and an excellent 109 century in defeating the Englishman, with former world champion Shaun Murphy the next challenge awaiting the Kildare cueist.
Countryman Ken Doherty’s woes continued, though, as the Dubliner fell in a disappointing 4-1 loss to Boonyarit Kaettikun.
The 1997 world champion, this year celebrating the 20th anniversary of his famous triumph at the Crucible, is looking dead set on current form to finish the campaign outside the world’s top 64 in the rankings, in doing so losing his professional card.
Meanwhile, the majority of the marquee names got off to a winning start as the opening round came to a conclusion at the Motorpoint Arena.
Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan wasn’t near his best but took advantage of a hapless Tom Ford to prevail with a 4-1 scoreline.
Judd Trump repeated the trick against 2007 runner-up Andrew Higginson, knocking in a tournament-high 140 in the process, while world no.1 Mark Selby and Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen enjoyed whitewash wins against Sydney Wilson and Liam Highfield respectively.
In-form Barry Hawkins, who on Sunday captured the World Grand Prix in Preston, was understandably a little rusty after his celebrations but still managed a 4-2 success over Fraser Patrick.
Other ranking event winners this season in Ali Carter, Liang Wenbo, Mark King, and Marco Fu similarly recorded 4-2 wins – the latter against Martin Gould in one of the encounters of the open first round draw.
Another intriguing clash had Anthony McGill face Joe Perry, and it was the Scot who emerged in a high-scoring thriller which went the distance and contained three centuries between them.
The home support didn’t have too much to cheer about, especially when their favourite Mark Williams exited the tournament in a shock deciding frame defeat to Elliot Slessor.
Daniel Wells also crashed out at the initial hurdle, losing to rookie of the season Yan Bingtao 4-1, while David John missed out against Northern Ireland champion King.
However, a pair of all-Welsh battles ensured two local competitors advanced to the last 64 with Michael White and Jamie Jones earning 4-1 victories over Duane Jones and amateur Tyler Rees respectively.
Elsewhere, former champion Ding Junhui’s indifferent form continued as Robin Hull got the better of the Chinese 4-1.
Michael Holt, Alan McManus, and Matthew Selt all also bowed out in respective losses to Mitchell Mann, Christopher Keogan, and Mei Xiwen.
Among the others to reach the last 64 were Peter Ebdon, James Wattana, Mike Dunn, and Brazil’s Igor Figueiredo.