The first action on the Main Tour for almost a month took place at the Barnsley Metrodome.
The English Open qualifiers commenced on Friday to end a prolonged lull on the 2021/22 snooker calendar.
It had been a full three weeks since the last shot was taken in anger on the professional circuit, with the sport still impacted by the pandemic that has curtailed international opportunities – particularly in China.
In seasons past, several lucrative tournaments in China took place around this time, including the Shanghai Masters, World Open, International Championship, and the China Championship.
But all of these earning opportunities remain temporarily lost as the tour slowly regains its footing following the global COVID-19 crisis.
With those events gone, there is increased pressure on the players to perform in the competitions that remain, including those linked to the Home Nations series.
In a change to the format from previous campaigns, the first round of each Home Nations tournaments is effectively being played as a qualifier away from the main venue, with the matches involving the top 16 held over.
On Friday, eight players booked their spots in the last 64 and will definitely feature when the event proper gets under way in November at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
Tom Ford and Jimmy Robertson were both in good form, compiling a century each in recording respective 4-0 defeats of Sean Maddocks and Yuan Sijun.
Former ranking event runner-up Xiao Guodong won the last three frames to come from behind and deny returning pro Alfie Burden 4-2, while Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher prevailed by the same margin against Ben Hancorn.
Ross Muir, a replacement for the absent Zhou Yuelong, defied his amateur status to overcome fellow Scot Dean Young courtesy of a 4-1 win, a scoreline that was matched by Gerard Greene in his ousting of Liam Highfield.
Steven Hallworth and China’s Wu Yize were the other two competitors to advance thanks to deciding-frame victories over Sam Craigie and Ashley Hugill.
On Saturday, the snooker qualifiers for the English Open continue with another eight fixtures taking place, including those involving recent British Open finalist Gary Wilson, Joe Perry, and Jordan Brown.
Live coverage is available on the Eurosport Player and Matchroom.Live.
Click here to view the draw (Times: CET)
Featured photo credit: WST