The preliminaries for the third ranking event of the season are taking place this week.
Ali Carter beat amateur top-up Dylan Emery 4-1 at the opening hurdle of the Northern Ireland Open in Leicester on Tuesday.
The Captain, who compiled a 147 break last week during the British Open at the same venue, had breaks of 79 and 66 in a relatively routine victory.
Carter, now 42, has had a string of steady performances this calendar year but will be looking for an extra push over the coming months in an effort to regain his place among the top 16 in time for the Masters – starting with October’s Northern Ireland Open.
Elsewhere, the all-Thai affair between Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Noppon Saengkham ended in favour of the latter after a closely fought contest at the Morningside Arena.
Both players exchanged century breaks, but Saengkham managed to snatch victory in a decider to advance to the last 64 at his countryman’s expense.
Tom Ford was also a 4-3 winner as he edged Zak Surety, while Tian Pengfei fought back superbly well from 3-0 behind to deny Sean Maddocks in another clash that lasted the distance.
The sequence of tight battles began right at the outset of the day when Chris Wakelin held off the challenge of Michael Holt for a 4-3 triumph, with Jackson Page additionally squeaking through by the same narrow margin.
All of the other battles ended 4-2 with Allan Taylor, Martin O’Donnell, Ashley Carty, and Fan Zhengyi progressing to the Waterfront Hall.
A change to the format in the Home Nations series this season means that 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.
Several more ties take place on Wednesday, including the matches between Matthew Selt and Yuan Sijun, Li Hang and Mark King, and Joe Perry and Oliver Lines.
Click here to view the full draw (Times: CET)
Featured photo credit: WST