The Gibraltar Open got going on Thursday at the Europa Point Sports Complex, with eight players reaching the last 16.
The tournament, which represents the third last ranking event of the campaign, has been heavily impacted by withdrawals.
Among numerous reasons, flight problems and visa issues have led to a significant number of players pulling out of the competition this week.
In the first round there have already been a dozen walkovers, with more possible on Friday as the second half of the field subsequently gets whittled down.
The Gibraltar Open has been positioned strategically on the calendar to boost its credibility as an important leg of the calendar.
There are important ranking permutations in various races, including those involving the European Series bonus, seeding for the World Championship qualifiers, and qualification for the upcoming Tour Championship.
Hossein Vafaei was one player badly affected, with the Iranian unable to challenge on all fronts as a result of being forced to withdraw.
The Gibraltar Open, in a difficult location and with poor prize money, is already a tournament that many tend to ignore, and this latest edition has become a tad farcical with so many mounting issues.
Regardless of all that, there was still plenty of snooker action on day one of the three-day event.
Neil Robertson, Kyren Wilson, and Ding Junhui were among the marquee names who emerged from their opening three ties unscathed.
Robertson, who was one of many players to highlight a bizarre lack of practice tables at the venue, wasn’t at his best against Liang Wenbo in the opening round but scored more heavily later on against Oliver Lines and Rory McLeod.
The Australian is among the favourites for glory in Gibraltar, and other sports betting predictions from Insiders Betting Digest could help you determine the best bets to place this week in sport.
Ding, meanwhile, conceded just two frames across his three victories, while Wilson went one better by dropping only one frame – during his 4-1 defeat of Ali Carter in round three.
Elsewhere, Jordan Brown produced arguably the strongest string of performances of the day as he conjured a hat-trick of whitewash displays while compiling three centuries.
Jamie Jones and Jak Jones both progressed, the latter taking advantage of Vafaei’s absence by prevailing in back-to-back deciders to reach the last 16.
Amateur top-up Soheil Vafaei and China’s Lyu Haotian were the other two players to make it through the opening day’s tests.
On Friday, the others in the tournament enter the fray with the likes of defending champion Judd Trump, world number two Ronnie O’Sullivan, and Scotland’s John Higgins expected to feature.
Gibraltar Open Draw
Last 16 TBC vs TBC Jordan Brown vs Jamie Jones TBC vs Ding Junhui TBC vs Kyren Wilson Neil Robertson vs Jak Jones TBC vs Soheil Vahedi Lyu Haotian vs TBC TBC vs TBC Remaining Last 128 ties Play starts at 8:30am Friday. Judd Trump vs Andrew Higginson Zhao Jianbo vs Simon Blackwell Scott Donaldson vs Lu Ning Ricky Walden vs Dylan Mitchell Haydon Pinhey vs Jackson Page Ryan Day vs Ng On Yee Lee Walker vs Zhou Yuelong John Higgins vs David Grace John Astley vs Michael Holt Cao Yupeng vs Ben Fortey Jimmy Robertson vs Tian Pengfei Ian Burns vs Tom Ford Joe O'Connor vs Duane Jones Mitchell Mann vs Fergal O'Brien Jack Lisowski vs Mark Davis Lee Prickman vs Yuan Sijun Craig Steadman vs Gao Yang Stuart Bingham vs Gerard Greene Mark Allen vs Mark Joyce Lei Peifan vs Robert Milkins Jamie Wilson vs Reanne Evans James Cahill vs Ben Hancorn Thepchaiya Un-Nooh vs Francis Becerra Joe Perry vs Leo Fernandez Kuldesh Johal vs Michael White Nigel Bond vs Chen Zifan Fan Zhengyi vs Ashley Hugill Barry Pinches vs Peter Lines Ronnie O'Sullivan vs Ben Woollaston
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Featured photo credit: WST