Ding Junhui delighted his faithful following with a straightforward 6-1 victory over Xiao Guodong to reach the last 16 of the International Championship on Tuesday.
The Chinese number one, who had a quiet last campaign as he struggled to threaten at most of the bigger events on the calendar, knocked in a 104 and four additional runs above 50.
Ding emerged with the International Championship crown in 2013, undoubtedly his best ever spell as a professional when he tallied a record-equalling five ranking titles that term.
The 32 year-old has struggled for consistency ever since and his poor performances in the last year or so have led to him slipping down the rankings.
Such has been his demise that his contention at the business end of tournaments is now not guaranteed to be seriously considered.
But Ding remains one of the most dangerous competitors in the higher echelons of the game and if he can rediscover his top form he will be a hard player to overcome.
The former world number one is tasked with another all-Chinese clash – his third in a row this week – when he’ll take on former World Cup winning partner Liang Wenbo in the last 16 in Daqing.
And speaking of the world number one position, world champion Judd Trump will regain the coveted position in the pecking order with just one more victory after safely negotiating the hurdle of Scott Donaldson in the last 32.
Trump, who won the International Championship a year earlier than Ding in 2012, would usurp Ronnie O’Sullivan if he were to reach the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Standing in his way will be Joe Perry, who won four frames on the spin with breaks of 136, 83, and 71 to pull away from Stephen Maguire in a 6-2 triumph.
Updated provisional seedings following day two of the International Championship: https://t.co/mWil4Je7jL
Worth noting that Judd Trump will reclaim the world no.1 ranking for the first time since March 2013 if he can reach the quarter-finals this week…
— Matt (@ProSnookerBlog) August 5, 2019
Elsewhere, Mark Allen continued his excellent defence with a third 6-1 success in succession, this time against veteran Mark Davis.
Allen has reached the International Championship final three times, notably etching his name on the trophy in 2018, and so far so good during this edition as he coasts his way through the early rounds.
The Northern Irishman will next face Ali Carter, so another 6-1 scoreline might be asking for too much, but a victory there nonetheless would underline his serious credentials this week.
There are several other heavy hitters still in the hunt as the pack chases the £175,000 champion’s cheque that will be handed out on Sunday in Daqing.
Australia’s Neil Robertson, twice a runner-up in this event in the past, scored a hat-trick of tons but could only scrape past Ricky Walden 6-5.
Mark Selby and John Higgins, who accounted for three titles in a row between them from 2015 to 2017, recorded respective 6-3 defeats of Ben Woollaston and Elliot Slessor.
Shaun Murphy appeared to be in cruise control as he established a 5-0 advantage over Yan Bingtao with a devastating display of power scoring.
But the “Magician” was forced to fight for that final frame and the recent Riga Masters champion only just missed out on forcing a decider as a timely break of 67 helped Murphy to a 6-4 win.
World Championship semi-finalists David Gilbert and Gary Wilson continued to show that their runs at the Crucible weren’t by accident after thrashing former ranking event winners Anthony McGill and Luca Brecel respectively.
Graeme Dott, meanwhile, edged a scrappy battle of former world champions with Stuart Bingham 6-3.
Among the others to make it through to the last 16 were Tom Ford, who pipped Kyren Wilson in a decider, as well as Andrew Higginson and Jak Ford.