International Championship Qualifying

Mark Williams Survives in International Championship Qualifying

Mark Williams held on to deny John Astley in a deciding frame and emerge unscathed from International Championship qualifying on Sunday in Sheffield.

The Welshman fell two frames adrift early on but appeared to assert his control on proceedings when he won five out of the next six frames to establish a 5-3 advantage.

Astley didn’t give up, though, and battled gallantly to force the final frame shoot out – but a break of 55 finally proved to be enough for the world number three.

The result was in stark contrast to David Gilbert’s safe passage through to the venue stages in August.

The World Championship semi-finalist put the disappointment of his recent Riga Masters qualifying round defeat behind him with a confident 6-0 thrashing of James Cahill at Ponds Forge.

Gilbert, who squandered a 3-0 lead in losing to Ian Preece last week, compiled runs of 96, 94, 72, 66, and 63 in a dominant display.

Former International Championship winner Ricky Walden also got in on the whitewash action as he easily dismantled a weak challenge from Chen Zifan.

In fact, it was another somewhat disappointing day for the Chinese contingent as the majority in action on day three failed to reach their first home tournament of the new season.

Li Hang was downed 6-2 by Elliot Slessor, Luo Honghao succumbed to a 6-3 reverse against Mark Joyce, while rookie Lei Peifan couldn’t negotiate the challenge of Gary Wilson.

Mei Xiwen exited as well, albeit to countryman Zhou Yuelong, who was joined in the last 64 by Main Tour debutant Chang Bingyu.

Chang, only 16 and highlighted as a possible player to watch this term, tallied breaks of 111 and six additional half centuries in an impressive victory over Michael Georgiou.

Elsewhere, there were late wins for Joe Perry, Michael Holt, and Ben Woollaston.

It took the latter until after midnight to outlast Thor Chuan Leong in a scrappy affair while Perry and Holt both notched a brace of centuries in overcoming Joe O’Connor and Hammad Miah respectively.

Former Northern Ireland Open champion Mark King enjoyed a 6-2 success over Adam Stefanow.

David Grace also advanced after opponent Anthony Hamilton withdrew midway through their contest due to health issues.

The International Championship qualifying round concludes on Monday with the likes of Kyren Wilson, Stephen Maguire, and Matthew Stevens featuring.

Live coverage of the International Championship qualifying continues on the Eurosport Player.

Click here to view the draw (Times: CET)

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