Several of snooker’s big names – including John Higgins and Mark Allen – have crashed to surprising first round exits in this year’s Northern Ireland Open.
The second Home Nations event began on Monday with players competing to win a big ranking trophy on UK soil.
But once again Allen has failed to shine in his home tournament after he crashed to a shock 4-1 loss to China’s Niu Zhuang. The feat meant Allen’s wait to win the Northern Ireland Open goes on.
Meanwhile, Higgins could not find his best form in Belfast as he fell to a 4-2 loss to Rory McLeod – the first time Higgins has lost to McLeod in his career.
And the shocks did not end there.
World number six Barry Hawkins was forced to pack his bags home early as he fell to a 4-3 loss to Chen Zifan despite making breaks of 99, 92 and 80.
And Anthony McGill’s hopes of reaching the Masters in January took a big dent after he suffered a 4-0 thrashing against Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher – a surprise semi-finalist in last season’s English Open.
At time of writing English Open champion Stuart Bingham was also in danger of a shock exit as he was trailing 3-1 to Peter Lines.
And Kyren Wilson, who only yesterday lost out to Ronnie O’Sullivan in a gripping Champion of Champions final, was in a tight match against Welshman Lee Walker.
However defending champion Mark Williams made it through to the second round with a 4-2 victory over Alfie Burden.
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