Mark Selby scraped into the first round proper of the International Championship after a typically gritty 6-5 victory over Li Yuan on the first day of action in Daqing on Sunday.
The world number one’s qualifying match had been held over to the main venue, where he has triumphed in each of the last two editions of the lucrative ranking tournament, and he was forced to fight back from a frame down at the end to eventually clinch the decider after midnight local time.
World champion Mark Williams, as well as home duo Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo, also had their preliminary round fixtures postponed so they could be played in front of a wider audience and the trio managed to safely negotiate their opening tests to advance to the last 64.
Conditions were widely praised, albeit questions have once again been raised about the size of the pockets, or at least the ease at which the balls are being accepted.
The tournament is only a day old, yet there have already been more than 20 tons compiled with Alfie Burden’s terrific 142 total clearance, made during his 6-2 defeat of Sam Baird, standing as the front-runner for the high break prize.
Got to say the tables here in Daqing really are as good as we play on all season BUT, the pockets are absolutely massive!!
— Joe Perry (@joegentlemanjoe) October 28, 2018
In a busy day of action in Daqing that also saw several round of 64 matches completed, there were a few results that already caught the eye.
Stuart Bingham and Mark Davis were contesting the final of the English Open only a week ago but both suffered early exits in the form of 6-3 defeats to Eden Sharav and Joe Perry respectively.
Kyren Wilson, the Paul Hunter Classic and Six Red World Championship winner from this term, was downed 6-2 by the ever-improving Chinese teenager Yuan Sijun, while Anthony McGill’s curious bad form continued with a 6-4 reverse against Stuart Carrington.
Some of the other more notable names did manage to progress further, though. in Daqing.
Barry Hawkins outplayed Thepchaiya Un-Nooh to inflict a 6-2 loss on the Thai, Stephen Maguire continued his strong showing of late with a 6-1 thumping of Michael Georgiou, and Ali Carter went one better thanks to a whitewash thrashing over Kurt Maflin.
Jack Liswoski’s scoring was impressive as the Riga Masters runner-up reeled off breaks of 128, 83, 75, 71, 57, and 54 in hammering Chris Wakelin 6-1 and China’s Yan Bingtao, who broke down on the 14th red in the final frame en route to a possible maximum break, humbled Jimmy White 6-0.
It was a mixed day for the home contingent in general but Xiao Guodong and amateur He Guoqiang were victorious – the latter making the most of his invitation as a top-up wildcard by beating Gary Wilson.
Elsewhere, Ryan Day boasted only one break of 50 but still overcame Tian Pengfei 6-3 while former UK and Masters champion Matthew Stevens held off Jordan Brown for a 6-4 win.
Among the others to qualify for the next round in Daqing were former ranking event winners Mark King and Martin Gould.