After the opening couple of ranking events of the campaign, the players have returned to Preston for the next batch of qualifiers at the Guild Hall.
Over the next week or so, the preliminary rounds for the European Masters and China Championship will take place but first up it’s the qualifying round for the Indian Open, which is set to return to the calendar in the middle of September.
The first half of the last 128 round of fixtures took place on Wednesday with a number of the big names advancing to the main event next month.
As expected, the Indian Open features a dwindled field with many of the heavy hitters opting to skip this tournament, which doesn’t boast the best pot in terms of prize money.
However, there are still a few marquee names in the hunt and, of course, the slightly weaker field will provide a great opportunity for one of the cueists further down the rankings list to etch his name on some silverware this season.
Former world champion Stuart Bingham, who is currently sliding down the rankings and in danger of dropping outside the top 16, comfortably made it through with a 4-1 victory over Chris Totten while Liang Wenbo went one better courtesy of a whitewash win against Mitchell Mann – one of the several amateurs in the draw acting as top-ups.
Michael White, a former Indian Open winner, didn’t score heavily but managed to overcome veteran Nigel Bond 4-1, Joe Perry inflicted a heavy 4-0 defeat on Joe O’Connor and 2002 world champion Peter Ebdon edged Jamie Clarke in a dramatic decider.
China’s young star Yan Bingtao got his latest bid to claim a maiden ranking title under way with a 4-2 victory over Leo Fernandez while compatriot Li Yuan produced arguable the standout triumph of the day as he overturned a 3-0 deficit to stun Ross Muir 4-3.
Not many of the lower ranked players beat higher ranked opposition but there were a couple of instances, with Pakistan’s Hamza Akbar compiling an event-high break of 135 in beating Robbie Williams 4-2 while Oliver Lines matched that scoreline later on against Mark Joyce.
Oliver’s dad Peter Lines had to work just a little bit extra for his safe passage, being taken the distance by Zhang Anda, while other 40-something players Gerard Greene, Joe Swail, and Robin Hull each managed to book their ticket to India.
Meanwhile, Sam Craigie had little trouble in hammering fan favourite Jimmy White 4-0 and there were wins elsewhere for Shoot Out champion Michael Georgiou, Gary Wilson, Matthew Selt, and Tom Ford.
Among the others to advance were Elliot Slessor and Welsh potter Duane Jones.