Ding Junhui, Judd Trump, Mark Williams and John Higgins were among a host of big names to bow out of the 2019 China Open at the first hurdle on Tuesday.
An astonishing day of upsets saw five of the world’s top ten players sent packing in the £1 million major as the underdogs stepped up to the mark in Beijing.
With reigning and three-time champion Mark Selby having crashed out on Monday, four-time World Champion John Higgins became the next high profile casualty as he went down 6-2 to emerging star Joe O’Connor.
O’Connor, semi-finalist in last month’s Welsh Open, reeled off six consecutive frames from 2-0 down to stun the Scot at the Olympic Sports Centre.
Multiple ranking title winner Barry Hawkins also bit the dust in Beijing as he was edged out in a deciding frame by Chinese cueist Li Hang.
Masters Champion Trump is also heading home after a 6-5 defeat at the hands of Robbie Williams – who held his nerve in an hour-long deciding frame.
Williams coasted into a 3-0 lead with the aid of a break of 119 before Trump battled back to send it the distance, but a loose safety shot on the green proved fatal in the decider for the world number six.
Home favourite Ding, winner here in 2005 and 2014, fell foul to a resurgent James Wattana – who rolled back the years to pull off a 6-3 scalp.
Ding, who has just one ranking Quarter-Final to his name this season, saw his 49-year-old opponent pile in breaks of 81, 99 and 98 in an inspired display.
Former World Champion Ken Doherty also turned back the clock in an impressive 6-4 defeat of current World Champion Mark Williams.
Ireland’s Doherty, 49, produced high breaks of 76, 62, 115 and 90 to Williams’ 91, 53, 75 and 71 in a high quality contest as he subjected the Welshman to an early exit just a fortnight before he is due to begin the defence of his world title at The Crucible.
There was to be no such misfortune for world number eight Kyren Wilson as he safely saw off teenage sensation Yuan Sijun 6-1, while 2009 and 2012 China Open winner Peter Ebdon claimed a superb 6-2 victory over Yan Bingtao.
Gibraltar Open finalist Ryan Day was thrashed 6-1 by Sam Craigie, while Xiao Guodong was among six Chinese players to crash out as he went down 6-4 to Michael Holt.
Stephen Maguire, the 2008 champion, swept aside Xu Si 6-1, as former Welsh Open semi-finalist Scott Donaldson overcame Joe Perry 6-4.
China Open 2019 Results
Tuesday April 2
Lu Ning 6-5 Barry Hawkins
Joe O’Connor 6-2 John Higgins
Jack Lisowski 6-2 John Astley
Peter Ebdon 6-2 Yan Bingtao
Thor Chuan Leong 2-6 Rod Lawler
Yuan SiJun 1-6 Kyren Wilson
Oliver Lines 4-6 Lyu Haotian
Liang Wenbo 6-3 Gary Wilson
Ryan Day 1-6 Sam Craigie
Alexander Ursenbacher 1-6 Mark King
Judd Trump 5-6 Robbie Williams
Adam Stefanow 1-6 Andrew Higginson
Scott Donaldson 6-4 Joe Perry
Ken Doherty 6-4 Mark Williams
Craig Steadman 6-5 Dominic Dale
Pang Junxu 2-6 Alan McManus
Stephen Maguire 6-1 Xu Si
Michael Holt 6-4 Xiao Guodong
Ding Junhui 3-6 James Wattana
Ashley Carty 4-6 Ben Woollaston
Ricky Walden 6-4 Chang Bingyu