Former world champion Shaun Murphy has lost a qualifying round fixture for the second time this season already after a 4-3 defeat to Gary Wilson in Preston on Saturday.
The Englishman’s tight reverse against his countryman at the Guild Hall will mean that he won’t be featuring in October’s European Masters in Belgium, adding to his previous failure to reach this month’s lucrative World Open.
Last season, Murphy finished runner-up in four ranking events without being able to etch his name on any silverware, although he did emerge victorious in the prestigious Champion of Champions invitational.
In a high-scoring affair in which the pair traded seven half century breaks, Wilson won the penultimate frame on the black before a 50 in the final frame shoot out sent him to Lommel.
Martin Gould also suffered a somewhat surprising exit as he was downed 4-2 by Scotland’s Ross Muir, while 2006 world champion Graeme Dott crashed out by the same margin to Jak Jones.
The rest of the well-known competitors in action on the fourth day of a week-long stretch of preliminaries in Preston were all able to make it through this opening test – albeit some by the skin of their teeth.
Mark Allen and Stuart Bingham were both taken the distance before eventually advancing at the expense of David Lilley and Jamie Jones respectively.
Amateur Lilley fought back from 3-1 down to force a decider with Allen but the Northern Irishman produced a timely 93 to reach the last 64 while Bingham took a small step to easing his top 16 concerns with a narrow success of his own.
Three-time ranking event winner Ricky Walden required all seven frames too, overturning a 3-1 deficit to Hammad Miah to prevail in another close affair while Barry Hawkins had just a slightly easier time of it in his 4-2 triumph over Sanderson Lam.
Ali Carter knocked in breaks of 72 and 63 as he overcame Xu Si with the same scoreline and Anthony McGill ended a three-match losing streak with a 4-1 win against another Chinese player, Lu Ning.
There was some joy for the large crop of competitors from China, though, with Liang Wenbo, Zhou Yuelong, Yuan Sijun, and Zhao Xintong all qualifying for the first round proper.
The latter, who regained his place on the Main Tour by emerging as a graduate from May’s Q School, continued his impressive start to the new campaign with a 4-1 triumph against former UK champion Matthew Stevens.
Meanwhile, Irish veteran Ken Doherty bagged his first win of this term courtesy of a 4-2 defeat of Kurt Maflin while fellow former world champion Peter Ebdon repeated that scoreline against Jordan Brown.
Elsewhere, Jack Lisowski had an average shot time of less than 15 seconds as he sped to a 4-1 win over James Wattana, helped by a trademark run of 119 in the opening frame.
Among the other names to progress were Fergal O’Brien, Mark King, Jimmy Robertson, Stuart Carrington, Chris Wakelin, and Elliot Slessor.
The Guild Hall will stage the qualifying round for the China Championship over the next four days.
Live coverage will be on Eurosport.
Click here to view the China Championship draw. (Times: CET)