The number of top-16 seeds in this year’s UK Championship has been whittled down to just five after another day of shocks at the Barbican Centre on Tuesday.
Pre-tournament favourite Judd Trump produced an awful display by his standards to crash out in the third round with a limp 6-3 defeat to Matthew Selt in York.
The latter battled strongly from the first frame and took advantage of an outing in which the world number two could only muster one break above 50.
To the surprise of many, Selt was the heavier scorer throughout and sealed the victory in style with an excellent contribution of 128 in the last frame.
Trump was by no means the only one of the UK Championship seeds to struggle as the round-of-16 line-up was confirmed on day seven.
Stephen Maguire, the 2004 champion who boasts one of the best records in this tournament in terms of career match victories, was annihilated 6-0 by Luca Brecel.
Two-time finalist Mark Allen was another casualty, with the recent Northern Ireland Open champion squandering a 5-2 advantage to end up on the wrong end of a deciding-frame encounter against David Gilbert.
It adds to the prior demises of reigning champion Neil Robertson, world champion Mark Selby, and former UK winners John Higgins, Mark Williams, Ding Junhui, and Shaun Murphy in the earlier stages.
The only top-16 member who managed to survive on Tuesday was Anthony McGill, who secured a potentially vital 6-5 triumph over Zhou Yuelong.
The win guarantees that McGill stays above Zhou in the Race to the Masters standings, with the Chinese cueist now looking over his shoulder with trepidation as he hopes to hang onto the final invitation spot.
Reigning Welsh Open champion Jordan Brown, veterans Anthony Hamilton and Peter Lines, and Iran’s Hossein Vafaei were the other competitors to make it through to the fourth round.
All four may not have been expecting to make it this far at all, but they’ll each be hoping to extend their runs in the event considering the developing situation in which there are so few UK Championship seeds remaining.
Of course, there is still one heavy hitter in particular who remains in the hunt, with Ronnie O’Sullivan now being elevated as the new obvious favourite for glory.
The record seven-time champion has looked in good form this week so far and will take on Noppon Saengkham on Wednesday for a berth in the quarter-finals.
Kyren Wilson, Barry Hawkins, and Jack Lisowski are the other top-16 seeds left in the hunt for this year’s UK Championship title, with each now arguably being gifted with an outstanding and unique opportunity to land a maiden Triple Crown success.
Fourth Round Draw
TOP HALF Jordan Brown vs Anthony McGill (16) Anthony Hamilton vs Luca Brecel Kyren Wilson (5) vs Ben Woollaston Noppon Saengkham vs Ronnie O'Sullivan (4) BOTTOM HALF Matthew Selt vs Barry Hawkins (14) David Gilbert vs Andy Hicks Zhao Xintong vs Peter Lines Jack Lisowski (15) vs Hossein Vafaei
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Featured photo credit: WST