Judd Trump crashed out of the World Championship on Wednesday after losing 10-8 to Rory McLeod in one of the biggest shocks in Crucible history.
Trump had been labeled as the pre-tournament favourite after a stellar season which saw him reach five ranking event finals, win two trophies, and rise to number two in the world rankings.
It all seemed to be going according to plan for Trump when he established a 4-0 lead early on but his concentration appeared to slip as McLeod battled his way back to a 5-4 first session advantage.
Trump would have been hoping to produce more free scoring snooker in the second session but it failed to materialise, with most frames becoming drawn out scrappy affairs which more suited his opponent’s laboured style.
It later transpired, when he returned from the final mid-session interval 7-6 behind, that Trump may have been suffering from a shoulder injury as he winced on several occasions while preparing to take his shots.
There was some opportunity for a reprieve when the clash overran during the mornin play with Trump 9-7 down, and the prospect that a rest could reignite his fortunes upon the game’s final resumption.
However, despite winning another frame to pull back to within one, McLeod dominated the 18th frame to win at the Crucible for only the second time on his third appearance in Sheffield.
The result will certainly go down as one of the biggest upsets in the championship, with a confident Trump bullishly buoying up his chances in the build up to this week.
Trump’s bravado, which promised so much, turned into a meek and premature departure after he failed to even show up for his post-match press conference.
McLeod didn’t play particularly well himself, but he didn’t make it easy for his fellow Englishman and took advantage by winning a lot of the closer frames.
It may not have been pretty – in fact at times it was awful to watch with both players’ pot success in the mid-80 percentile – but McLeod will not care a jot about that as he moves into the last 16.
McLeod will next meet Scotland’s Stephen Maguire, whose title winning odds have drastically shortened from around 80/1 to 22/1 with bet365 in the snooker betting.
Meanwhile, two further seeds also exited at the first hurdle with Graeme Dott and Xiao Guodong dispatching of Ali Carter and Ryan Day respectively.
2006 world champion Dott, who has reached three World Championship finals in total, played superbly in overcoming the “Captain” 10-7, while Ryan Day was hammered 10-4 by China’s Xiao.
Dott compiled only a brace of half century breaks but his fierce determination was typically on show as he held off the 2008 and 2012 runner-up.
With Trump out of the bottom quarter, Dott must now be considered a dark horse to launch another run deep into the marathon 17-day event given his pedigree over the longer format.
Xiao secured his first triumph at the Crucible on his second visit with minimum fuss as he dominated Day to set up a last 16 fixture with defending champion Mark Selby.
Day’s loss means that there won’t be a player from Wales in the last 16 of the World Championship for the first time since 1969.
The final two first round ties reached their halfway stages with Neil Robertson and Barry Hawkins both in complete control.
The Australian leads debutant Noppon Saengkham 8-1 while Hawkins won six frames on the trot to establish a 7-2 cushion against Tom Ford.