There were a number of upsets in those qualifiers! Anthony McGill, Shaun Murphy, Graeme Dott, Michael White, Stuart Bingham and Mark King being amongst those who were probably expected to win, but didn’t. Stuart however probably didn’t have his full focus on his snooker: his young son Shae was in hospital and understandably he was Stuart’s priority.
Shaun didn’t play terrible, but Mei on his day is very solid and reliable and that was enough in this match. Graeme Dott made too many mistakes against Zhao Xintong, who looked focussed and determined to make the most of his return on the main tour.
Alan McManus also lost and that’s a concern as he needs results to stay in the top 64. Ali Carter, who also needs results to stay in the top 16 won easily.
A couple of top players had a scare. Stephen Maguire needed a decider to shrug off Adam Stefanow. This is Adam second narrow defeat in qualifiers and, to me, he’s been very unlucky with his draws, having to play against two vastly experienced players, one of them notoriously very hard to beat and the other top 16 material. Mark Selby was awful before the MSI – he trailed 3-1 at that point – and far from his best afterwards: he can count himself very lucky to have played against an amateur. Luke Simmonds – who was 1998 IBSF World Champion and Under-21 Champion, but never did anything of note as a pro afterwards – can play but as soon as Selby started to come back at him after the MSI he looked a beaten man; had he got a bit more belief he could have won this match, he had enough opportunities.
Looking at the young ones there were wins for Jack Lisowski, Elliott Sellor, Sunny Akani, Zhou Yuelong, Luca Brecel, new pro Harvey Chandler (he beat Michael White), Alexander Ursenbacher, new pro Simon Lichtenberg (he beat Ken Doherty), Yuan Sijun, Lyu Haotian, Stuart Carrington, Scott Donaldson and Zhao Xintong as already mentioned.
Looking at the veterans, there were wins for Peter Ebdon, Fergal O’Brien,Rod Lawler, Anthony Hamilton. The last two mentioned are clearly determined to try to stay on tour against all odds! Jimmy White and Joe Swail lost heavily.
One last thing: Marco Fu did win his match very comfortably but for what I saw, wasn’t playing particularly well: he scored heavily in the balls but the opportunities came from his opponent mistakes – basic ones – rather than from Marco’s safety/tactical game. His opponent, Chris Totten was utterly shocking, unable to string 3 balls together: he scored 35 points all match.