Mark Williams is out of the Championship League after defeat by Peter Lines on the opening day at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.
The three-time World champion reached the final of last season’s event in April, before losing to Kyren Wilson.
However, his quest to go the extra step this season fell at the first hurdle with a 3-0 reverse against eventual Group 8 winner Lines proving costly.
The 23-time ranking event winner had to subsequently settle for a second-place finish despite victories over Hammad Miah and Jak Jones.
Williams made a solid start with a 3-0 win over Hertford’s Miah, who regained his place on the tour via the Q School order of merit after relegation last term.
But the 46-year-old then came unstuck at the hands of Lines.
Following a 3-1 defeat by Jones in his opener, the former World Seniors champion responded well with breaks of 100 and 50 securing a 3-0 success.
Lines, who also reclaimed his tour status through Q School, then overcame Miah 3-1, producing a stunning 81 clearance from 51-0 down along the way.
That moved the 51-year-old to the summit of the group, meaning only a victory for Jones over Williams would deny him top spot.
Thankfully for Lines, the world number 11 recovered from losing the opening frame with a top break of 74 to bow out in style.
Over in Group 7, Ricky Walden raced through to Stage Two with a 100 per cent record.
The three-time ranking event winner made two centuries and dropped just a single frame on the way on the way to topping the table.
Walden hit breaks of 56 and 112 in a 3-1 win over Derbyshire amateur Oliver Brown, while a run of 67 was the highlight of his 3-0 success against Allan Taylor.
That secured the former world number six’s progression into the next phase following Brown’s 2-2 draw with Nigel Bond.
Walden then produced contributions of 58 and 105 as he won three frames without reply against 1995 Crucible finalist Bond, who was beginning his 33rd successive season on the main tour.
Championship league Snooker 2021 Schedule
Sunday July 18
Nigel Bond 2-2 Allan Taylor
Ricky Walden 3-1 Oliver Brown
Ricky Walden 3-0 Allan Taylor
Nigel Bond 2-2 Oliver Brown
Ricky Walden 3-0 Nigel Bond
Allan Taylor 3-1 Oliver Brown
Mark Williams 3-0 Hammad Miah
Jak Jones 3-1 Peter Lines
Jak Jones 2-2 Hammad Miah
Mark Williams 0-3 Peter Lines
Peter Lines 3-1 Hammad Miah
Mark Williams 3-1 Jak Jones