It’s a busy day of action ahead at the Celtic Manor.
Two rounds of the 2021 Welsh Open draw have been completed and the last 32 contains most of the game’s biggest stars.
Thursday at a Home Nations event is always a frenetic affair, and by the end of the day’s play the quarter-finalists will be known.
Ding Junhui was the biggest casualty of the tournament so far after the former champion lost to fellow Chinese competitor Pang Junxu on day three.
Two-time champion Neil Robertson withdrew on the eve of the tournament due to personal reasons, while 2017 winner Stuart Bingham was the standout loser in round one.
However, many top contenders remain in the hunt for glory and the £70,000 champion’s cheque that is on offer alongside the Ray Reardon Trophy.
Judd Trump continues to represent the favourite, and the world number one triumphed in his 28th best-of-seven fixture in succession with a 4-2 defeat of Si Jiahui on Wednesday.
Trump, who has never won the Welsh Open but is bidding for a fifth ranking title of another stellar campaign, faces Hossein Vafaei in the third round.
Record five-time champion John Higgins survived a dramatic final-frame thriller with Ben Woollaston – needing a snooker before pinching the victory on the final black – and the Scot’s reward is a meeting with 2009 winner Ali Carter.
Ronnie O’Sullivan maintained his quest to join Higgins on five crowns with a routine whitewash win over Jimmy White.
The world champion encounters Martin Gould for a place in the last 16, while defending champion Shaun Murphy is in action against Ryan Day.
The latter, who lasted the distance in the Shoot Out earlier in February, is one of three home Welsh stars still in the mix.
Mark Williams and Jak Jones are the others, with the pair drawn to battle Joe Perry and Mark King in the last 32 respectively.
With the likes of Mark Selby, Yan Bingtao, Mark Allen, Stephen Maguire, and Jack Lisowski also still involved in the Welsh Open draw, the competition is set up for an intriguing conclusion over the next few days.
Of course, with two short matches to be consecutively played on day four anything is still likely to happen, and it is often here when a lot of the seeds end up falling.
Race to the Players Championship
As an interesting subplot, the race to next week’s Players Championship is also heating up nicely with a host of competitors chasing the final qualifying spots.
Only the top 16 from the one-year rankings list will gain entry into the lucrative ranking event that’s part of the new Cazoo Series.
Lu Ning, Stuart Bingham, Jamie Jones, and Zhao Xintong are clinging onto the final positions on the provisional table, but all four have been dumped out of the Welsh Open draw already.
With a dozen out of the next 14 players on the list in the last 32 in Wales, the order is likely to change over the coming days.
2021 Welsh Open Last 32 Draw
Shaun Murphy (1) vs Ryan Day
Anthony McGill (16) vs Barry Hawkins
Martin O’Donnell vs Pang Junxu
Matthew Selt vs Stephen Maguire (8)
Mark Selby (5) vs Joe O’Connor
Yan Bingtao (12) vs Xiao Guodong
Jordan Brown vs Alexander Ursenbacher
Jak Jones vs Mark King
Judd Trump (3) vs Hossein Vafaei
Mark Williams (14) vs Joe Perry
Ricky Walden vs Jack Lisowski (11)
Tom Ford vs Kyren Wilson (6)
John Higgins (7) vs Ali Carter
Mark Allen (10) vs Scott Donaldson
Zhou Yuelong vs David Gilbert (15)
Martin Gould vs Ronnie O’Sullivan (2)
Live coverage of the 2021 Welsh Open is available on BBC Wales, the BBC Red Button, Eurosport, Quest, and by various other options around the world.
Click here to view the 2021 Welsh Open draw (Scheduled times in CET)
Featured photo credit: WST