Day three in the China Championship began with 11 out of the top 16 ranked players, but only four remain after a session of carnage in Guangzhou.
World champion Mark Selby had already bowed out in a deciding frame thriller to Zhou Yuelong in the afternoon session, but that was only the beginning of it as the higher seeds tumbled out one after the other in an unforgettable evening bout of play.
All in all, the top six ranked players in the world were all dispatched of, with Riga Masters champion Ryan Day also failing to reach the last 16.
It’s hard to pick out one standout result but arguably the most eye-catching, and relevant given the fact that the tournament is staged in his homeland, was Ding Junhui’s surprise 5-0 loss to Alan McManus.
McManus has suffered a dreadful time of it on the circuit through a mixture of bad form and some injury ever since his World Championship semi-final defeat to Ding at the Crucible in 2016.
But the Scot dominated the affair against the Chinese number one to stun the sparse crowd with a whitewash win.
McManus goes on to meet Ireland’s Fergal O’Brien in a battle of the veterans and both will now be thinking that there’s an opportunity to go far in this tournament with so many of the marquee names eliminated.
Among the other stars to bow out were defending champion John Higgins and world number three Judd Trump.
Higgins was a shadow of the player who won his preliminary round fixture on Wednesday in just 59 minutes, with opponent Tom Ford taking full advantage.
The Englishman knocked in breaks of 133, 85, and 59 while Graeme Dott defied back-to-back centuries from Trump in a high-scoring encounter to beat the former world number one 5-3.
Many were looking forward to a mouthwatering clash between Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan but it’ll be the tenacious Scot who rekindles an old rivalry with the “Rocket”, with the duo having battled in several big World Championship fixtures in the past.
Elsewhere, Ryan Day couldn’t keep his early season run of form going as he lost out to fellow Welshman Mark Williams 5-2.
Williams, runner-up in the China Open in April, hasn’t been triumphant in a ranking tournament for six years but will be looking to take advantage of all the higher ranked casualties this week.
Marco Fu from nearby Hong Kong also disappeared from the draw following a 5-2 reverse against Luca Brecel.
Brecel would have been fearing the worst when he saw Fu fight back from 4-0 down to make it 4-2, having lost to the Scottish Open champion from a 7-1 in front position in the recent World Championship in Sheffield, but the Belgian compiled a 50 to just about hold on and maintain his hopes of a maiden ranking event title.
Matthew Stevens, who was a ball away from exiting to Mark Allen in the last 64, ousted Thepchaiya Un-Nooh by a similar scoreline despite a terrific tournament high 144 break from his challenger in the fifth frame.
Stevens will meet Li Hang for a quarter-final berth after the Chinese pipped former Indian Open champion Michael White in a decider while Mike Dunn needed all nine frames as well to hold off Allan Taylor.
It was unfortunate that the arena was practically empty for such a dramatic day of action and it’ll be interesting to see what effect the long list of losers will have on the remainder of the event, particularly with an unusual Tuesday finish at the promoter’s request.
Box office cueman Ronnie O’Sullivan is still in the hunt, but even with his game this afternoon on the main table there was a distinctly poor turnout.
If he fails to make it through to the latter stages, it’ll be curious to see if the seats are ever filled.
Coverage continues on Eurosport.