The preliminaries for the third ranking event of the season are taking place this week.
Matthew Stevens emerged from a tight contest with Zhao Xintong to qualify for October’s Northern Ireland Open on Monday in Leicester.
In a slight tweak to the format for the Home Nations events this season, only the top 16 in the world rankings and a few local competitors will play their opening matches at the venue stages.
Every other player in the 128-player field must undergo their opening fixture at a different location – in this case the Morningside Arena – before qualifying for the main draw.
Stevens, who won the old Northern Ireland Trophy way back in 2005, edged Zhao 4-3 – one of three encounters that lasted the distance on the first day.
Cao Yupeng continued his fine return to the Main Tour with a similar success over Robbie Williams, while fellow Chinese cueist Lu Ning held off former Championship League winner Scott Donaldson by the odd frame as well.
Elsewhere, Ryan Day qualified for the last 64 with a 4-1 defeat of Igor Figueiredo, a scoreline that was matched by Hammad Miah in his ousting of Scottish rookie Dean Young.
All of the other results came in at 4-2, with Fergal O’Brien, Sunny Akani, Peter Devlin, Jamie O’Neill, and amateur James Cahill booking their flights to Belfast.
Several more ties take place on Tuesday, including Ali Carter’s clash against amateur Dylan Emery, an intriguing all-Thai battle between Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Noppon Saengkham, and Michael Holt’s date with fellow Englishman Chris Wakelin.
Click here to view the full draw (Times: CET)
Featured photo credit: WST