Jack Lisowski beat Jimmy White 10-7 in the first round of World Championship qualifying to relegate the People’s Champion from the Main Tour on Friday.
In a thrilling and dramatic contest which was played at a frantic pace, Lisowski pulled away from 7-7 to potentially put an end to the 54 year-old legend’s professional career.
White required at least one win to earn enough money to break into the top eight in a list of highest earners from this season who hadn’t broken into the world’s top 64 in the general rankings.
He trailed 2-0 early on but a superb 122 followed by a break of 93 brought parity and the encounter ebbed and flowed one way and then the other thereafter.
Both players boasted leads at various junctures of the contest before the crucial exchanges of the last three frames.
White had chances in the 15th to retake the lead, and in the following frame to level when he had fallen behind, but missed reds late in each frame before watching his opponent capitalise to move within one of victory.
After the pair traded misses at the beginning of what proved to be the final frame, Lisowski held himself together to move into the penultimate round – where he’ll face another veteran in Peter Ebdon.
For White’s legion of fans, it’s a wonder now how often, if ever, the “Whirlwind” will be back on our screens.
After 37 years as a professional, White becomes the last of the original boom years group of stars to fall off the circuit.
The Englishman will arguably be remembered most for his inability to win the blue riband tournament in Sheffield, notoriously losing six times in finals at the Crucible.
However, in the midst of all that he had a glittering career which featured ten ranking event victories, including the UK Championship.
White also won his home event, the prestigious Masters, in 1984 and will be remembered as arguably the most popular player to have ever played the game.
That support sometimes was his downfall as he failed to live up to the huge expectations weighed on his shoulders, but he never complained, continuously living by his mantra of playing to entertain.
Whether White will head to Q-School or not in May to try to immediately get back on the tour remains to be seen, but there seems little reason why he shouldn’t.
It’s clear from his interviews, and through his dedication during this campaign to lose more than four stone in an effort to improve his game, that he still possesses a love for competing.
Indeed, this campaign was probably his best in a decade, with a run to the quarter-finals of the Paul Hunter Classic among many decent displays, but he ultimately left too much to recover from after a dreadful 2015/16 term which saw him win just one match.
There is of course also the possibility that World Snooker will offer White a wildcard for next season, as has been provided in the past for the likes of Steve Davis and James Wattana, and which was offered to Scotland’s Stephen Hendry.
Either way, there is the real prospect now – a threat which has been surfacing for a number of years – that an illustrious career has come to a sad end.
Meanwhile, on the third day at Ponds Forge, Ebdon scored heavily as he routed Michael Wild 10-3.
Lisowski, who played at a rapid fire pace with barely a safety shot in mind, will face a completely new test next in the form of the resilient 2002 world champion.
Elsewhere, there was another major upset as amateur Alexander Ursenbacher ousted Robert Milkins 10-6.
Milkins won the opening frame with a century break but lost the next six as the European under-21 champion began to outline his growing potential.
Ursenbacher would have been forgiven for feeling the pressure when Milkins retrieved the situation somewhat to fight back to just 8-6 behind, but the 20 year-old won the last two frames for a famous victory.
Martin Gould and Mark Davis enjoyed much easier affairs, recording comprehensive triumphs over James Wattana and Mitchell Mann respectively, while Eden Sharav ousted Jamie Cope to dump the latter off the Main Tour as well.
China’s Yu Delu inflicted a 10-0 whitewash on Brazil’s Itaro Santos as Scott Donaldson and Robbie Williams won heavily as well.
Williams, who has never lost a game at Ponds Forge after qualifying for the World Championship in each of the last three editions, romped to a 10-1 defeat of James Cahill.
Several clashes reached the halfway point earlier in the afternoon, albeit a few encounters barely made it that far after a snail’s paced session.
Alan McManus, a semi-finalist twelve months ago, leads Kurt Dunham 5-1 after being pulled off three frames early while Rod Lawler suffered a similar fate as he leads Xu Si 4-2.
Among the others in action were Fergal O’Brien and Joe Swail, with the Irish duo trailing 5-4 to Gerard Greene and Sanderson Lam respectively.
Northern Ireland’s Swail is another in desperate need of positive results in order to survive on the tour.
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