International Championship: Star-studded last sixteen in China

International Championship: Star-studded last sixteen in China

Nine of the World's top ten have qualified for the third round.

Chris Lincoln

Snooker has made a name for itself as a sport inundated with surprise victories. Yet for the first time this season, the majority of high profile players have qualified for the final sixteen in the International Championship.

Strong English presence

The only notable absentee from the exciting line-up is World number sex Mark Allen who lost to Daniel Wells in qualification. Yet the top ten English sextet of Mark Selby, Stuart Bingham, Shaun Murphy, Judd Trump, Ricky Walden and Joe Perry have all safely made it through.

They are joined by multi-World Champion Ronnie O'Sullivan who claimed "I am not good enough to match the top players earlier in the week". Though the Rocket has enjoyed a trio of 6-4 victories to make it through to this stage.

The English interest does not end there with outsiders Sam Baird, Ali Carter and Michael Holt also qualifying. The former has been in impressive form this week with surprise victories over top 20 players Michael White and Marco Fu. Carter boasts the comeback of the competition so far after recovering from 5-2 down to defeat Stephen Maguire 6-5.

China well represented on home turf

The host nation are also heavily represented by a trio of players. Ding Junhui appears to have found his form after a scare in qualification when he was 5-4 and 57-0 behind to Mitchell Mann. Since then the home favourite went closest of anyone to making a 147 break before a mistake on the final brown.

Compatriots Liang Wenbo and Zhou Yuelong in the third round, with the latter defeating Anthony McGill on his way to this stage of the competition.

Neil Robertson of Australia and reigning champion John Higgins of Scotland have enjoyed comfortable routes to the final sixteen which is completed by surprise package James Wattana. The World number 91 is a veteran of the sport but reminded fans of his former self with some impressive results, including a first round win over David Gilbert

The third round schedule reads as follows:

1 [Scotland] John Higgins [1] v [China] Zhou Yuelong [48]

2 [China] Ding Junhui [9] v [England] Ricky Walden [8]

3 [England] Judd Trump [5] v [Thailand] James Wattana [87]

4 [England] Sam Baird [45] v [England] Shaun Murphy [4]   

5 [England] Stuart Bingham [3] v [England] Allister Carter [14] 

6 [England] Ronnie O'Sullivan [11] v [England] Michael Holt [27]

7 [Australia] Neil Robertson [7] v [England] Joe Perry [10] [Head to head] 

8 [China] Liang Wenbo [18] v [England] Mark Selby [2] [Head to head]