Ken Doherty has lost his professional Main Tour card after a 6-4 defeat to Rory McLeod in the World Championship qualifiers.
The Dubliner needed a victory in order to maintain his hopes of both reaching the Crucible and breaking back inside the top 64 in the official world rankings list.
Failure to do so means that the 1997 world champion will definitely finish the 2021/22 campaign outside the cut-off point for tour survival.
Doherty has been competing on the pro circuit since 1990 and reached a career-high of number two in the world rankings.
The 52 year-old’s crowning achievement came when he overcame then dominant force Stephen Hendry to lift the coveted world title – becoming only the second player from outside the UK to land the sport’s blue-riband prize in the Crucible era.
Doherty triumphed six times in ranking events and had near misses in numerous other major finals, including two other World Championship title deciders, three UK Championship finals, and two Masters finals.
In both 2017 and 2020, after the “Darlin’ of Dublin” dropped off the Main Tour in similar fashion, he was immediately awarded an invitational card akin to how legend Jimmy White has survived for the last number of years.
It’s unclear if that option will materialise again, with no announcement having yet been made by the World Snooker Tour.
Whether Ken Doherty would accept another invitational tour card this time around or opt for retirement instead is also up in the air.
In 2022 at the Crucible, Doherty will instead be working with the BBC in his more common role these days as a commentator at the Triple Crown events.
What the future holds for one of Ireland’s greatest sporting heroes on the green baize itself remains to be seen.
Elsewhere on day five at the English Institute of Sport, Andrew Higginson was another notable name who crashed out and will have to look towards Q School if he wants to fight for his pro status.
Higginson was downed 6-4 by amateur Daniel Wells, meaning he failed to maintain his place among the world’s top 64 after a disappointing spell of form.
The tour survival situation is constantly changing, and there’s a useful blog over at the WPBSA website to keep track of the live standings.
Former UK and Masters champion Matthew Stevens boosted his chances of staying on the circuit, though, with a 6-1 drubbing of Gerard Greene.
A third Welshman in Jackson Page also had a strong outing in the second qualifying round after a 6-1 beating of Ashley Carty.
Among the others to make it through to the penultimate round were English quartet David Grace, Chris Wakelin, Elliot Slessor, and Oliver Lines.
Chinese trio Yuan Sijun, Cao Yupeng, and Gao Yan also advanced further in the dramatic preliminary competition.
On Saturday, the second round concludes and the third round of four gets under way, with Stephen Maguire and Ricky Walden among higher profile names entering the fray.
Saturday’s Order of Play
(Apr 9, 9:30am)
Pang Junxu vs Farakh Ajaib
Jamie Clarke vs Si Jiahui
Stuart Carrington vs Lei Peifan
Simon Lichtenberg vs Wu Yize
(Apr 9, 2:30pm)
Ricky Walden vs Allan Taylor
Li Hang vs Scott Donaldson
Lu Ning vs Lyu Haotian
(Apr 9, 7:30pm)
Stephen Maguire vs Zhang Jiankang
Zhou Yuelong vs Zhang Anda
Mark King vs Michael White
Jordan Brown vs Liam James Davies
Live coverage of the World Snooker Championship qualifiers will be available across Europe on the Eurosport App.
Viewer in all other territories – other than China – will have the option to subscribe to Matchroom.Live.
Featured photo credit: WST