THE ALL new International Championship got off to a dramatic start with four out of eight matches going to final frame deciders.
The first day of the new ranking event, which carries the same level of ranking points as the UK Championship, saw two wildcard round shocks as former world champion Ken Doherty and promising young talent Michael White crashed to opening day defeats to young teenagers.
Doherty battled back from 5-2 down to force a deciding frame in his wildcard match against 15-year-old Zhao Xintong. But it was last frame heartbreak for the Dublin ace as the teen won a tense final frame to set up a first round tie against Matthew Stevens.
And White looked like he would get the bye to the last 16 following Ronnie O’Sullivan’s withdrawal from the tournament on Friday when he led 5-2 against 14-year-old Lu Haotian.
But the youngster had other ideas and dramatically won four frames on the bounce to produce arguably the biggest win of his career. His win gave him the lucrative bye to the second round and will meet the winner of the first round match between Graeme Dott and Dominic Dale for a place in the quarter-finals.
Cao Yupeng, who made the last 16 in last season’s World Championship, avoided a mighty scare after trailing 4-1 to wildcard entrant Wang Yuchen. But Cao produced when it mattered as breaks of 86, 70, 78 and 110 helped him to a 6-5 victory.
Elsewhere, Fergal O’Brien and Jamie Burnett avoided wildcard round shocks beating Chen Feilong and Niu Zhuang respectively. And Aditya Mehta, who came through the initial qualifying rounds, won his wildcard match 6-5 against Zhu Yinghui. Mehta was playing his first ever match at a venue stage.
There were two first round matches played on the opening day. Shaun Murphy sailed into the last 16 with a 6-0 thrashing of Andrew Higginson. And 2010 world champion Neil Robertson showed some fine form in beating Welshman Ryan 6-3 to progress to the last 16.
Tomorrow (Monday) sees world number one Mark Selby in action in his first round encounter with Ali Carter and Shanghai Masters champion John Higgins will be hoping for more China success when he faces Cao Yupeng.