The opening day of the 2019 Kaspersky Riga Masters was badly effected by a number of walkovers and withdrawals in Latvia on Friday.
Billed as the first ranking event of the new season, there was a sense of anticipation as the 2019/20 campaign was set to get under way.
However, flight delays and cancellations on Thursday night from the UK led to a host of late no-shows – including defending champion Neil Robertson.
The Australian tweeted late on the eve of the tournament how several competitors were set to be let down by the travel arrangements.
It helped to contribute to more than a dozen walkovers as the conclusion of the preliminary round and the last 64 was heavily influenced.
Alongside Robertson, who was bidding to win the first ranking event of a new season for the fifth time in the last seven years, the likes of Kyren Wilson and tour rookie Louis Heathcote were among those stranded.
Following the non-entries from world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan and world champion Judd Trump, as well as the defeats for many of the heavy-hitters in the qualifiers last month, the Kaspersky Riga Masters draw has been well and truly opened up.
Only a few top 16 members remain in the hunt for glory in this weekend’s competition in which all the matches up until the semi-final stage last only seven frames.
Mark Williams managed to manoeuvre his way through to the last 32 and is undoubtedly one of the highly fancied to go on and lift the title on Sunday.
Williams won his held over tie against Jordan Brown before a 4-3 nail-biter over James Cahill wrapped up proceedings on the first evening.
Jack Lisowski also safely booked his place in the second round proper while former world number one Mark Selby was among the many who benefited from a walkover.
While Lisowski, who was runner-up twelve months ago, will be hoping that it could be an opportunity to land a maiden crown, the opportunity may also be there for some of the young Chinese players to make an impact on the game.
Teenagers Yan Bingtao and Yuan Sijun have been talked of highly in recent years and opened their accounts with triumphs over Ricky Walden and Rod Lawler respectively.
Lyu Haotian also bagged a nice victory as he outplayed former China Championship winner Luca Brecel with a 4-1 scoreline while Luo Honghao edged David Grace 4-2.
Some of the veterans have got themselves into day two also with the likes of Graeme Dott, Joe Perry, Michael Holt, and Mark King advancing.
World Championship semi-finalist Gary Wilson pipped young Jackson Page in a decider and there were other wins for Shoot Out champion Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Tom Ford.