The former world champion is through a tough opening test in this week’s ranking event.
It was a dramatic first evening at the Players Championship as Stuart Bingham edged Judd Trump 6-5 in the last 16 on Monday.
Trump, the reigning champion, was downed before the quarter-final stage of a tournament for the second time in succession, having previously not failed to make an appearance at that stage in every other event this season.
After Bingham established an early 2-0 advantage, Trump fought back to win the next three frames on the spin with breaks of 81, 105, and 76.
Bingham, who has endured a mediocre season by his standards, would have been forgiven for letting his head drop, but to his credit Ballrun responded in fantastic fashion.
The 2015 world champion twice subsequently missed out on opportunities to make maximum breaks, failing to pot both the penultimate black and the last red in the space of three frames.
At 4-4, Bingham retook the lead before Trump forced the decider by snatching the tenth frame on the final black.
However, Bingham was in control at the end and squeaked through to the last eight of the lucrative event in Milton Keynes, where there’s a top prize of £125,000 on offer.
“At 2-0 I didn’t really feel comfortable,” Stuart Bingham told the World Snooker Tour after edging the world number one.
“I was only at 2-0 when Judd missed a few good chances, so when he came back at me to go 2-2 at the break I thought that was pretty fair.”
“I thought it was going to be one of those nights again, but he went 3-2 and something clicked in my game.
“I had a great chance for the max and missed the last black for the yellow, but from there I fancied the job.
“I was glad to get over the line at 6-5. At 5-4, when he cleared up with the last couple of reds I just thought it was going to be one of those nights again.
“Whoever you play, you’re going to get chances so you’ve got to punish them, and when you do that they sort of get on the back foot.
“I think Judd could see that I started to play well and it put him under a bit of pressure – he just made a few mistakes at the end.
“I got inspiration from Jordan Brown winning the Welsh Open last night – a David and Goliath sort of match-up.
“Now I’ve got passed Judd, if I win another game I think that’ll push me close to the 16 (in the official world rankings list) so I wouldn’t have to qualify for the Worlds, so I’ve had that in the back of my head throughout the season.
“I’ve lost four or five deciders this season and I’m just happy to get one behind me.”
Elsewhere at the Marshall Arena, Kyren Wilson enjoyed a much easier time of it as he thumped recent Snooker Shoot Out king Ryan Day 6-1.
On Tuesday, the first round continues with four more encounters to look forward to.
After withdrawing from the Welsh Open for personal reasons, Neil Robertson returns to face Lu Ning while there’s an intriguing contest between attack-minded cueists Jack Lisowski and Martin Gould.
Later, Ronnie O’Sullivan will look to bounce back from his defeat to Brown in the Welsh Open final when he takes on Ding Junhui, with Barry Hawkins in action against Zhou Yuelong.
With Trump suffering an early exit, O’Sullivan is the new 5/2 tournament favourite in the betting market ahead of Robertson and Mark Selby.
For his recent conqueror Brown, you can check out this bet365 review for sign-up offers if you think the Northern Irishman can make it an unlikely double tournament triumph at 66/1.
Last 16 Draw
Judd Trump (1) 5-6 Stuart Bingham (16)
Zhou Yuelong (8) vs Barry Hawkins (9)
Jack Lisowksi (5) vs Martin Gould (12)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (4) vs Ding Junhui (13)
Neil Robertson (3) vs Lu Ning (14)
Kyren Wilson (6) 6-1 Ryan Day (11)
Jordan Brown (7) vs John Higgins (10)
Mark Selby (2) vs Mark Williams (15)
Where to Watch the Players Championship
The tournament will be available to UK and Irish viewers on ITV4 in addition to blanket Eurosport coverage provided to the rest of Europe.
Fans around the world will have various other options available to them, which you can find more details for here.
As has become the norm since last year, the tournament in its entirety will be staged behind closed doors.
Featured photo credit: WST