Professional Snooker - 2016 European Masters Qualifying (Day 2)
26th-28th Septemeber / Guild Hall, Preston, England
BIG NAMES ADVANCE IN PRESTON
Just a few days on from Shanghai, the World's Top 16 players (minus the withdrawn Ding Junhui) entered the fray at the Guild Hall in Preston for Day 2 of inaugural European Masters Qualifying.
Barely 48 hours on from being a beaten finalist, Mark Selby once again showed professionalism as he clinically dispatched John Astley 4-1 for his 14th ranking match win this season already. The World Champion highlighted a 103 break in Frame 3.
After a very patchy season opening display last week, Ronnie O'Sullivan enjoyed a more routine 4-1 victory over Chinese amateur Lyu Chenwei. Despite Lyu initially taking the lead with a 96 break, runs of 54, 56, 52 and 65 sent 'The Rocket' through with a bit to spare.
Selby and O'Sullivan's Last 64 fixtures are now held over to the Globus Circus in Bucharest, Romania next week.
The remaining Top 10 stars in action all progressed, albeit with differing avenues of success.
Neil Robertson went through in a very similar fashion to O'Sullivan. Having watched young Thai Boonyarit Keattikun compile a 128 in the opening frame, the Australian chalked up a quartet of half centuries to win in five.
Stuart Bingham, who has entered everything he possibly can so far this season, made light work of dispatching Craig Steadman 4-0. Mark Allen hit a 102 on his way to an identical result over Darryl Hill; getting the job done within the hour.
John Higgins (113 break) and Ricky Walden were both victorious 4-1 against Nigel Bond and Christopher Keogan.
Breathing a sigh of relief though were big hitters Shaun Murphy and Judd Trump, who were looking to bounce back after disappointing exits at the Shanghai Masters.
Murphy was left frameless after being thumped in his first match last week; he had some worrying moments here too before ending Fang Xiongman's hopes 4-3. Q-School graduate Fang led three times after impressive runs of 71, 81 and 88, but the 2005 World Champ showed his grit in the end to get through.
Trump needed the full distance to deny India's Aditya Mehta (103 break) despite leading 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 (just like Fang).
A number of Top 32 seeds did however fall victim to the relatively short format and had their ambitions for Romania next week extinguished at the first hurdle.
As the World Number 11, Joe Perry was the highest ranked casualty. He watched David Grace come back from 3-1 down to oust him in a decider; finishing off in style with a 113.
Robin Hull crafted a 123 break in beating Mark Williams 4-1; amateur Zak Surety ended strong with runs of 68, 80 and 59 to fell Kyren Wilson 4-2. Jamie Jones and Elliot Slessor also won 4-2 against Martin Gould and Robert Milkins.
Despite producing efforts of 128 and 70 to go 3-2 up, Michael White was eventually pipped by Rory McLeod. Matthew Selt also constructed a 100 during his 4-2 loss to now amateur Peter Lines.
'Maximum Man' and Semi-Finalist in China, Stephen Maguire came back with a bump after he was eliminated by Andrew Higginson 4-3. Maguire led 2-0 and 3-2, in an encounter where both had centuries (AH - 116 / SM - 123).
Ali Carter trailed Ken Doherty 2-0 before turning things around 4-2. It is now concerning times for the Irishman as he bids to keep his pro tour card beyond this season. His defeat today means he has lost his opening match in four ranking events this season so far.
Indian Open champion Anthony McGill was pushed to the wire in beating exciting Thai prospect Akani Songsermsawad 4-3.
Liang Wenbo enjoyed the same scoreline as he squeezed past Mark King (106 break) in what was a high quality affair that saw seven efforts of 50 or above posted between the pair.
There were no such troubles for elite players Marco Fu (136 break) or Barry Hawkins (102 break) as they whitewashed Steven Hallworth and Zhang Anda 4-0 respectively.
The biggest scorer of the day was perhaps David Gilbert who notched up contributions of 70, 101, 53, 50 and 58 in defeating Lee Walker 4-3.
Scott Donaldson, Stuart Carrington, Ben Woollaston, Mei Xi Wen, Kurt Maflin, Matthew Stevens, Michael Holt and Ryan Day (103 break) also guaranteed themselves a payday.
Written and published by Michael Day on the 27th September 2016