Day 3 in Daqing saw the last 32 round played to a conclusion, in front of … nearly nobody. Daqing is a rather remote place North of China and the sponsors rely mainly on television channels and streaming for audience. Still this is a big venue and it was almost empty all day, with no atmosphere, which doesn’t look good on television and, more importantly, is not great for the players. Clearly early exits from both Ronnie and Ding are a bad blow for the organisers.
What happened today on the baize? Well, it was a rather mixed bag for the higher ranked players: Ryan Day, Joe Perry, Stephen Maguire, Ricky Walden, Luca Brecel and Kyren Wilson lost today, whilst Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, Shaun Murphy, Ali Carter, Judd Trump, Mark Williams, Mark Allen, Liang Wenbo and John Higgins progressed.
Kyren Wilson lost in the deciding frame to Martin Gould, but made his first competitive 147 in the 10th frame of the match. It’s a great feat but I’m not sure it helped him under the circumstances. Playing a decider, with all the focus and concentration is requires, right after scoring a 147, never mind a first one, certainly is a tough call for anybody. Whatever … here it is:
Mark Selby, Mark Allen, Neil Robertson and Liang Wenbo all had to work very hard for their wins.
Mark Selby was pegged back to 4-4 from 4-1 up by Tom Ford, before winning the last two frames. Mark didn’t play particularly well, for what I was able to watch, but nobody is more apt at winning when not playing great. He did it again. Tom had 5 breaks over 50, for only 2 for Mark, but Tom never was the best under pressure on the main table and Mark took full advantage.
Neil Robertson trailed Matt Selt 3-0 and 5-2 but managed to win the last 4 frames. Neil had 3 centuries in this match too: 101 (fr4), 129 (fr8) and 117 (fr9). Again, what separated the top player, Neil, from the good player, Matt, was the ability to perform under pressure.
The battle between Mark Allen and Mark King went to a deciding frame and they scored 11 breaks over 50 between them. It’s a shame that this match wasn’t on television.
Liang Wenbo surged to a 4-0 lead before having to stifle a gutsy comeback from Li Hang. Of course those two were both part of the Grove stable in the past and, surely, know each other and each other game inside-out. Li Hang was never going to be intimidated.
And what about the young giant killers, Yan Bingtao and Oliver Lines?
Well … Yan won his match, beating Ricky Walden by 6-4 on an outside table, whilst Oliver lost to Robert Milkins by the same score.
Yan started very strongly, leading 3-0 and 5-1 before losing his way a bit. Just like yesterday in fact. The difference though was that Ricky, contrary to Ronnie, was able to find his game and won three frames on the bounce before Yan regrouped and finished the job.
Oliver story was the exact opposite. He went 5-0 down before hitting back, winning 4 frames on the trot. But he had left himself too much to do, and Robert took frame 10 for the match.