Mark Selby began slowly but eventually got his season off to a positive start on Sunday by sealing qualification for the World Open in China next month.
The world number one looked rusty as he trailed amateur Luke Simmonds 3-1 at the mid-session interval but fought back in trademark fashion, compiling runs of 88, 59, and 58 to win the last four frames for a 5-3 success.
Selby won’t be all that used to the conditions in qualifying venues such as the Preston Guild Hall, having had the majority of his preliminary round fixtures held over to the main arena of ranking events over the last two years as the then reigning world champion.
The “Jester” has a huge amount of ranking points to defend this season and it’ll be interesting to see if he can maintain his dominance at the top of the world standings.
Selby notched up a brace of big-money tournament wins in China last season but otherwise struggled for large parts of the campaign to find his top form and was generally just not as consistent as had been the norm over the last number of years.
Judd Trump, meanwhile, enjoyed a much easier time of it as he also featured in this campaign for the first time, with the Englishman romping to a comprehensive 5-0 victory over tour rookie Kishan Hirani.
Trump looked sharp already as he reeled off runs of 121, 88, 69, and 60 in comfortably getting passed the Welshman, who booked his place on the Main Tour for the first time after graduating from Q School in May.
Marco Fu got in the whitewash action as well, similarly firing in a century and three additional breaks above 50 to hammer Chris Totten in a one-sided affair.
Fu had eye surgery at the start of 2018, which forced him to miss several events and led to a first-round exit at the World Snooker Championship in April, but the Hong Kong cueist appears to have regained his touch and could be someone to keep an eye on, excuse the pun, this season if his vision has improved markedly.
The performance of the penultimate day of qualifying action, though, was undoubtedly by Noppon Saengkham as the Thai 25 year-old constructed a hat-trick of century breaks and a further tally of 92 in seeing off Sean O’Sullivan 5-2 with a stylish display.
Meanwhile, Jack Lisowski beat Zhang Jiankang 5-2 to book his place in the last 64 and make it a nice early-season double after also securing his safe passage to the Riga Masters last week.
Shoot Out champion Michael Georgiou had a high break of only 54 but still managed a routine 5-1 triumph against Jordan Brown while Martin O’Donnell repeated that four-frame winning margin over Soheil Vahedi.
It was much tougher for Jak Jones and Robbie Williams, who earned 5-4 victories over Liam Highfield and Oliver Lines respectively while Chinese duo Zhou Yuelong and Xiao Guodong ensured that they will feature in the first of their home tournaments thanks to wins against Adam Duffy and Zhang Yong.
The World Open qualifiers conclude on Monday with Stephen Maguire, Ryan Day, Ken Doherty, and Michael White among those entering the fray.
Live coverage continues on the Eurosport Player.
Click here to view the draw. (Times: CET)