Judd Trump and Marco Fu comfortably qualified for the China Championship on a good day for the higher ranked players in Preston on Monday.
Both seeds were playing their first match of the new campaign after opting out of the Riga Masters, thus missing last week’s initial qualifying stage at the Guild Hall.
However, there were few signs of rust, especially from Hong Kong’s Fu who compiled consecutive century breaks of 134 and 124 to open his account against Sanderson Lam.
Indeed, the Scottish Open champion didn’t lose a single frame, pinching the last on the black for a positive start to the season.
Trump was similarly dominant as he recorded a 5-1 success over Xu Si, overcoming a slow beginning before tallying runs of 100, 96, and 67 in the last three frames to seal his berth at the newest ranking event on the calendar.
The Englishman, winner of two ranking events last season, will be keen to erase the disappointment of his awful early exit at the recent World Championship.
It reflected on a penultimate day of action in the qualifiers in which only a couple of pretenders toppled their higher ranked opposition.
Joe Perry also scored a ton as he routed Eden Sharav 5-1, albeit it was much tougher for David Gilbert and Alan McManus who were each taken the distance in their respective ties.
Gilbert, in the hunt for a place among the world’s top 16 for the first time this season, fought back from 4-2 down with a break of 120 in pipping Mitchell Mann in a decider.
McManus, on the other hand, held off a late rally from Hammad Miah to secure his passage to Asia in August with a 5-4 victory.
After a disappointing last term, the Scot will be keen to get some valuable ranking points on the board in the first half of this season, considering he will have a huge sum of money coming off next April when he will have to defend the money he earned with his magical semi-final run at the Crucible in 2016.
Meanwhile, Luca Brecel continued his impressive early summer form with a 5-2 triumph against Sean O’Sullivan.
Brecel beat Shaun Murphy last week to qualify for Latvia so the 22 year-old’s confidence will certainly be up, and he’ll be one of the players hoping to be in the mix for a maiden ranking event crown this year.
However, Ireland’s Josh Boileau, soon to also turn 22, has endured a nightmare first week of his second season on the Main Tour, falling in a second successive qualifying match.
Boileau lost a crucial close fifth frame to Sam Baird to fall 3-2 behind and duly never recovered as the Englishman inflicted a 5-2 defeat on the struggling Kildare cueist.
Elsewhere, Jimmy Robertson hammered David John 5-0 while Stuart Carrington enjoyed a likewise one-sided victory over Scott Donaldson.
Alfie Burden and Robert Milkins dispatched of Paul Davison and Zhao Xintong 5-2 respectively, with David Grace dramatically scraping past another Chinese in Mei Xiwen 5-4 on the colours.
Elliot Slessor and Allan Taylor were the only two challengers to take down higher ranked opposition.
Slessor thrashed Jamie Jones 5-0 while Taylor made breaks of 81, 68, and 61 as he ousted the continuously inconsistent Jack Lisowski.
The final day of qualifiers takes place on Tuesday with the likes of Neil Robertson and Jimmy White entering the fray for the China Championship.
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