Day 3 in Barnsley was an eventful one. The highlight was provided by the defending champion himself, Liang Wenbo, who hit a 147 in frame 5 of his last 64 match and offered the crowd a trademark celebration to match the feat!
Other than that there were a few upsets as well, so much so that only eight of the top 16 remain on course as we reach the last 32 stage.
Luca Brecel’s defeat to Mark Williams can’t be seen a shock of course: both are top players and the experienced and cunning Welsh potting machine is certainly no “has-been” just yet. He prevailed 4-1.
More surprising were the defeats of Mark Allen, Barry Hawkins, Ali Carter, Ding Junhui and David Gilbert. Ricky Walden as well lost yesterday, and alas this has become only too frequent as he seems to be unable to regain his form. It’s unclear how much he still suffer from his back injury but those injuries tend to be very persistent.
Gilbert fell to Matthew Stevens who seems to rediscover some form after years in the doldrums, which is good to see. Allen and Hawkins had just a below average day, it happens to them all.
Ding lost to Michael White and for the first three frames looked as if he was needing all his strenght just to stay awake. Ding in the past has been guilty of coming back from China to the UK last-minute when he was due to play there and maybe it was the case this time again. This is his first tournament in the UK this season and he certainly looked badly jet-lagged.
The most surprising result was certainly James Wattana 4-3 win over Ali Carter. I didn’t see that coming and I don’t think many would have predicted it. The veteran trailed 3-2, won the last two and had a century as well. As the match wasn’t televised, at least in Europe, it’s hard to know what really happened there.
Both Liang Wenbo and Neil Robertson, who are fighting to regain their top 16 place before the Masters, were pushed to a decider. The Neil Robertson v Li Hang match was scheduled to be streamed, but eventually was played on table 7 as the match in progress on table 2 was running late. It’s a shame because, judging by the scores, and Neil’s reaction on twitter it was a terrific match with a break over 60 in every frame.
Looking at the young guns we had wins for Yan Bingtao, Chen Zifan, Yuan Sijun, Zhang Yong Hossein Vafaei, Jack Lisowski and Sunny Akani. The Asian tide is well and truly on!