Professional Snooker / 2016 China Open
28th March - 3rd April 2016 / Beijing University Students' Gymnasium, Beijing, China
DAY ONE ROUND-UP
Literally just hours after Mark Allen had sunk the final few balls to win the Players Championship in England, the venue stages of the 15th edition China Open in Beijing got underway.
The event is currently the longest running and most established overseas venture on the World Snooker circuit.
It would be a very lively day with a number of other permutations affected. Come the end of it, half of the top 16 seeds who entered are not involved any more.
Read my session by session account...
Chinese events often seem to draw up some surprising and quirky results; this was immediately the case during the tournament's opening session.
Neil Robertson suffered a 5-3 exit at the hands of Thailand's Noppon Saengkham, despite making breaks of 81 and 106 twice.
The reigning Champion of Champions and UK winner's brace of consecutive centuries got him back square at 3-3, but Saengkham closed out the match with runs of 70 and 80 to deny the Australian any further points. The outsider also had earlier efforts of 81 and 67.
Robertson, who was not eligible for the Players Championship, also bowed out in his first venue match at the World Grand Prix a fortnight ago.
Friend and practice partner of Robertson's, Joe Perry, had an even more miserable time as he was thumped 5-0 by current World Number 89 Alfie Burden.
The recent WGP semi-finalist was restricted to just a total of 38 points throughout (highest break of 8), as Londoner Burden rattled in runs of 116, 57 and 62 on his way to victory.
However, there was no such concern for World Champion Stuart Bingham as he dispatched Cao Yupeng 5-0 in his held over First Round tie.
Not present in Manchester either (like Robertson and Perry), but just ousted in the WGP final a fortnight ago, 'Ballrun' continued his resurgence with breaks of 128 and 55. Struggling Cao, whose tour spot next season is in real jeopardy now, notched up just 35 points.
2008 victor Stephen Maguire chalked up a vital 5-3 success over last year's runner-up Gary Wilson in his late bid to re-enter the World's Top 16 and avoid Crucible qualifying next week.
Maguire won the last two frames after Wilson had come back from 3-0 down.
Fellow Scot John Higgins avoided the banana skin of tricky, promising home teenager Zhou Yuelong.
Higgins' last snooker trip to China yielded him the International Championship, although this is a title he has yet to win. Despite the talented Zhou knocking in breaks of 120 and 103, the four-time World Champion advanced 5-2.
Elsewhere this morning, in the Wildcard Round, Martin O'Donnell swept aside Wang Yuchen 5-0 and Ian Burns saw off Guan Zhen 5-3.
Michael White's visit to Beijing was a brisk one, as he was downed 5-1 by Jack Lisowski - a result which puts the Welshman's automatic World Championship place at risk.
Lisowski, who for so long has promised but yet to make a major breakthrough, had a top contribution of 78.
Someone who will however have to face three rounds of Ponds Forge qualifying is Liang Wenbo, after he was beaten 5-2 by Peter Lines in their First Round encounter.
There are so many storylines tied to the event this week besides the actual title itself...the experienced Lines is fighting for tour survival. He did his position the power of good by impressively marking up a quartet of half centuries in the process of eliminating China's Number 2 player.
Dominic Dale beat Jamie Jones 5-1 to win the all-Welsh affair and Graeme Dott defeated Matthew Stevens by the same scoreline in a clash of multiple major champions.
David Gilbert, the IC runner-up, saw off Gerard Greene also by 5-1, whilst Robert Milkins pipped Ross Muir in a deciding frame.
Andrew Higginson was the first victim of the Wildcard Round after he was removed by 16 year old Yuan Sijun 5-3.
Well, who saw this one coming?
You could have been forgiven for believing Ding Junhui's troubles during the last 18 months were behind him after reaching at least the quarter-finals of the last three major ranking events; however, China's Number 1 continues to perplex.
On the cusp of also securing an automatic place for the Crucible, a careless, and at times, disinterested looking Ding bowed out 5-1 to the experienced Lee Walker in their held over Round 1 fixture.
But take nothing away from 40 year old Walker who coolly constructed a break of 88 in the second frame, and restricted his opponent to just 8 points in the opening trio.
Ding responded well with a fantastic 136 in the fourth, but it would be his solitary success as the Welshman held his nerve to get over the line with the next two.
Walker also beat Ding in the First Round of last year's Welsh Open, 4-1.
The dismissed 11 time major ranking winner now has an anxious wait regarding his direct place in the World Championship next month. Currently laying in provisional 16th with his winners prize money of two years ago now removed, a whole host of opportunists could overtake him with a deep run here.
Mike Dunn, last week a quarter-finalist at Event City, scored another fantastic win as he recovered from 4-1 adrift to overhaul Alan McManus 5-4.
Rory McLeod thumped Mark Allen's conqueror in qualifying, Mitchell Mann, 5-0 and the ever more consistent Mark Joyce eliminated one of 2016's stars so far, Luca Brecel, 5-2. Joyce chalked up a 116 as his best effort.
Michael Holt hit a 100 exactly to see off Nigel Bond 5-2
Tian Pengfei won the all Chinese Wildcard clash against Niu Zhuang 5-1.
The last match to finish was Matthew Selt's 5-4 win over Chris Wakelin - Selt made breaks of 51 and 93 in the last two frames.
Written and published by Michael Day on the 28th March 2016