It was a rough day for a lot of the marquee names as the European Masters qualifiers came to a conclusion on Friday in Preston.
Shaun Murphy was the most high-profile casualty but there were also defeats for multiple ranking event champions Stephen Maguire, Ali Carter, and Ricky Walden.
Murphy fell 4-2 to John Astley in a scrappy affair while Maguire’s early season run of good form came to an abrupt halt as he squandered a 3-0 lead to lose in a decider to China’s Li Yuan.
The Scot had seemingly been coasting when he won the opening three frames but, despite numerous chances, couldn’t see off his plucky opponent and eventually lost out on the final black late in the day at the Guild Hall.
Carter similarly suffered an early exit at the hands of a Chinese player, with Mei Xiwen pinching a series of close frames to seal a 4-1 success over the Captain.
It marked Carter’s second defeat in as many preliminaries after he lost to Ken Doherty in the Indian Open last 128 earlier this week.
Walden, meanwhile, continued his poor stretch after letting slip a 3-1 advantage against Alfie Burden to bow out in a decider.
The three-time ranking event winner has been suffering with an injury of late and has dropped out of the top 16, with no clear sign in sight of a return to form.
Elsewhere, there was some glory for a number of the notable faces in action.
World number two John Higgins didn’t score heavily but was able to dispatch of Niu Zhuang 4-1 while fellow Scots Graeme Dott and Anthony McGill advanced with 4-2 scorelines against Craig Steadman and Matthew Stevens respectively.
Joe Perry compiled a 102 as he held off Boonyarit Kaettikun, with former world champion Stuart Bingham progressing 4-1 on an apparently low scoring day against Tian Pengfei.
Riga Masters champion Ryan Day squeezed through with a 4-3 triumph over German newcomer Lukas Kleckers, and was joined in the last 64 by Mark Davis, Zhou Yuelong, and Matthew Selt.
Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh inflicted a 4-0 drubbing on Michael White while there were comfortable outings as well for the promising Alexander Ursenbacher, World Games bronze medallist Soheil Vahedi, and veteran Joe Swail – who overcame old rival James Wattana 4-1.
Among the other names to reach the first round proper in Belgium were Oliver Lines, Peter Lines, Jack Lisowski, and talented Welsh amateur Jamie Rhys Clarke.
Saturday sees a rest day in Preston before the World Open qualifiers get under way on Sunday at the Guild Hall.