Four Chinese players have reached the last 16 of the 2019 Gibraltar Open after the professionals entered the fray on Friday.
The fourth edition of the ranking event got under way on Wednesday with the initial preliminary rounds.
The tournament is one of the last on the calendar that survived the old pro-am guise of the now defunct European Tour.
With several of the marquee names absent from the 2019 Gibraltar Open draw – eight out of the world’s top ten didn’t participate – it was always likely that the challenge for glory could come from unexpected sources.
The large contingent of cueists from China certainly took advantage with a quartet of competitors from the vast country winning their opening three encounters.
Yan Bingtao, Zhou Yuelong, Yuan Sijun, and Lu Ning are all in the hunt for the £25,000 top prize and a maiden ranking event title.
Somewhat amazingly considering the amount of Chinese players on the circuit, Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo remain the only two who have emerged triumphantly in a competition of such status.
Earlier in the month, Lyu Haotian was the most recent man to come close when he was denied in the final of the Indian Open to Matthew Selt.
The latter was among several of the more familiar names who bowed out early, alongside the likes of Anthony McGill, Mark King, and Peter Ebdon.
Shaun Murphy, one of the pre-tournament favourites but badly struggling for form this season, was edged out by Lu in the last 32.
The standout performance of the day, though, came from Oliver Brown, who was one of two amateurs to embark on a run to the fourth round.
The Englishman, who had already won a qualifying fixture to reach the main draw, pipped Michael Holt and European Masters champion Jimmy Robertson in deciders before a 4-2 success against Welshman Jamie Clarke.
David Grace, who will soon regain his professional status after earning a pro ticket via the inaugural Challenge Tour, counted former world champion Ebdon and Chris Wakelin among his victims.
Kurt Maflin and Daniel Wells were the other couple of players to advance as the first half of the 2019 Gibraltar Open draw was whittled down.
The remaining eight places that are up for grabs in the fourth round will be determined on Saturday with the likes of Kyren Wilson, Stuart Bingham, and David Gilbert entering the fray.
This event is important for the trio as they are battling it out for the final two spots in next week’s lucrative Tour Championship.
Gilbert, a finalist in two rankings events this term, is in pursuit and requires a strong weekend in order to upset the order.
Defending champion Ryan Day begins his account too with an opener against Germany’s Lukas Kleckers.