King Northern Ireland Open
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Former Champion Mark King into Northern Ireland Open

The preliminaries for the third ranking event of the season are taking place this week at the Morningside Arena.

Mark King will play at the venue stages of the Northern Ireland Open after beating Li Hang 4-2 at the preliminary stage in Leicester on Wednesday.

The Englishman won the last two frames after the scores were tied at 2-2 and compiled breaks of 85, 75, and 52 in seeing off the challenge of the Chinese competitor.



King was a memorable winner of the inaugural staging of the Northern Ireland Open back in 2016 when he overcame Barry Hawkins in a tight final.

Meanwhile, Ricky Walden is also through to the last 64 after a 4-1 defeat of Fraser Patrick in which he made four breaks above 50.

Fellow former ranking event winner Joe Perry is out, however, exiting in a 4-2 reverse against Oliver Lines, with former Indian Open winner Matthew Selt also failing to book his spot in October’s main event after losing to Yuan Sijun.

Elsewhere, Ben Woollaston and Robert Milkins recorded whitewash successes against Lukas Kleckers and Nigel Bond respectively.

Chinese duo Lyu Haotian and Xu Si each managed to negotiate their preliminary hurdles, beating Zhao Jianbo and amateur top-up Michael Georgiou.

In the other two fixtures, Alfie Burden secured his first victory since returning to the Main Tour as a professional with a 4-1 ousting of Chen Zifan, while Duane Jones edged Zhang Jiankang in a decider.

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 Thursday, including the matches between Luca Brecel and Michael White, Martin Gould and Ken Doherty, and Liang Wenbo and Pang Junxu.

Click here to view the full draw (Times: CET)

Featured photo credit: WST



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World Rankings Top 16

World Rankings after the British Open – won by Mark Williams.

1. Mark Selby
2. Judd Trump
3. Ronnie O’Sullivan
4. Neil Robertson
5. Kyren Wilson
6. Shaun Murphy
7. John Higgins
8. Mark Williams
9. Stephen Maguire
10. Ding Junhui
11. Mark Allen
12. Barry Hawkins
13. Stuart Bingham
14. Jack Lisowski
15. Yan Bingtao
16. Anthony McGill

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