Masters champion Mark Allen couldn’t maintain his run of form as he bowed out of the German Masters at the last 32 stage on Wednesday in Berlin.
The 31 year-old became the first Northern Irishman in more than three decades to claim one of the Triple Crown events when he superbly captured the Masters at the Alexandra Palace in January.
But despite fighting back from 4-2 down against Matthew Selt to force a decider at the Tempodrom on the opening day of action, his opponent held on for the victory.
The defeat for Allen is potentially damaging to his World Championship ambitions as he languishes near the bottom of the top 16 in the provisional Race to the Crucible standings with only a handful of ranking events remaining to secure his place in Sheffield.
The whopping £200,000 cheque he received in London doesn’t count towards his position on the list, of course, as the Masters is an invitational tournament.
For Selt, it represents his first trip to the last 16 of an event all season after a disappointing spell on the circuit has seen him tumble down the pecking order.
The defending champion Anthony Hamilton also fell by the wayside, ousted 5-1 by Jimmy Robertson.
Being announced into the arena for the competition’s opening match on the main table as the reigning champ must have been a great feeling for the “Sherrif” but he wasn’t able to reproduce the form that saw him claim his maiden title in the German capital twelve months ago.
Robertson will meet fellow Englishman Gary Wilson next after the latter accounted for 2016 champion Martin Gould, providing a wonderful opportunity for either Robertson or Wilson to embark on a run to the last eight of a big event.
Elsewhere, there were hard-fought triumphs for Ding Junhui and Judd Trump – two players who could do with a positive outcome from this week to silence their critics of late.
Ding compiled an excellent 131 as he emerged with a 5-3 success against Michael Georgiou while Trump repeated that scoreline over Ben Woollaston in a high-scoring battle in which the pair constructed four tons between them.
Meanwhile, 2011 champion Mark Williams emerged from a typically gruelling affair with Fergal O’Brien 5-3, matching Ricky Walden’s glory against Jack Lisowski.
Despite boasting only a single break above 50 – coming in the deciding frame – Joe Perry was the day’s other winner as he scrambled passed Yu Delu 5-4.
The first round will reach its conclusion by Thursday afternoon with several last 16 ties set to take place in the evening.
Live coverage is on Eurosport.