Ding and Murphy out of Northern Irish Open debut

As snooker's new Home Nations series continues, it is Belfast who have the honour of holding the maiden Northern Ireland Open, with an unpredictable opening round getting the tournament off to an exciting start.

Murphy scores a lowly eight points in four frames

With Judd Trump and Ali Carter both pulling out of the competition and Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham absent, the stage is set for someone to grasp an opportunity to win this new competition at the first attempt.

The first name on the silverware will not be either Ding Junhui or Shaun Murphy though. Ding was stunned by fellow Chinese compatriot Yu Delu, whilst Murphy managed just eight points in the entire contest against an inspired Luca Brecel.

Whilst a couple of big names were failing, some of the less known starlets were succeeding. Amateur Jordan Brown stunned Ben Woollaston and will be joined in the Second Round by fellow non-professional Zak Surety.

A wealth of shocks

Rarely does a snooker tournament go by without a list of surprise victories and the trend continued throughout the opening round. The biggest surprise in terms of ranking positions came when World number 114 Jamie Barrett defeated Matthew Selt ranked 93 places above him.

Barrett is joined by Scott Donaldson, who is enjoying a breakthrough season, after victory against 49 places his senior Robert Milkins. Ireland's Josh Boileau is ranked number 109 and saw off Mike Dunn a mammoth 73 places above him, whilst Allan Taylor defeated Li Hang almost 50 places higher up.

Number 89 Sam Craigie produced one of the performances of the round as he won 4-0 against Jamie Jones at number 33. World number 123 Alex Borg is the lowest ranked professional left in the competition after beating Dechawat Poomjaeng who has 79 places on him. Kristanut Lertsattayatthorn joined the party with a win over Rory McLeod ranked 53 positions higher, as did number 113 Chen Zhe who defeated Ross Muir ranked 65th.

Malta's Borg is the lowest ranked professional left (photo: Getty Images)
Malta's Borg is the lowest ranked professional left (photo: Getty Images)

Hossein Vafaei Ayouri, Mitchell Mann, John Astley, Lee Walker, Robbie Williams and Eden Sharav all joined the list of those lower ranked players who enjoyed substantial shock results against their opponents.

Higgins and O'Sullivan safely through

John Higgins won the Champions of Champions tournament and continued his good form with a 4-0 victory against Paul Davison. Runner-up in that competition Ronnie O'Sullivan also looked in good form, as did fellow top ten players Liang Wenbo and Mark Allen who completed 4-1 successes. Joe Perry will expect to be considered among the favourites after a whitewash against Itaro Santos.

A 139 by Mark Williams was the highest break of the opening matches and the Welshman leads a host of top 20 players into an exciting Second Round that begins on Wednesday.