Numerous big names hit a rock at the Gibraltar Open

Numerous big names hit a rock at the Gibraltar Open

John Higgins, Joe Perry and Ding Junhui bowed out as the first half of the draw staked their claim for the crown on oversees British territory.

Chris Lincoln

With half of the 128 qualifiers playing their first three matches of the Gibraltar Open campaign, the format may have been different to regular ranking events but the outcomes were still the same. Rank outsiders in Sanderson Lam and John Astley progressed to the last 16, whilst multi-ranking champions John Higgins and Ding Junhui were dumped out earlier than expected.

Allen looking strong as Ding and Higgins depart

Despite what was to occur later in the evening, there was very little noteworthy results in the 32 round one matches. Of those games, only Duane Jones, Eden Sharav and Mitchell Mann defeated higher ranked opponents, whilst George Pragnall was the maiden amateur to progress as he beat Michael Georgiou in a final frame decider.

Mark Allen impressed with a tournament high break of 138 in a whitewash of Ross Muir, before coming through two challenging ties in comfortable fashion to show his form. The Northern Irishman defeated John Higgins and David Gilbert, dropping just two frames in the process. Gilbert himself had defeated Ding Junhui in his second round match, as a period of surprise results ensued.

Allen has the highest break of the tournament and a defeat of John Higgins to his name (photo: Getty Images)
Allen has the highest break of the tournament and a defeat of John Higgins to his name | Photo: VCG via Getty Images

Lam and Astley join Trump and Robertson in last 16

Though Ryan Day, Peter Ebdon and Matthew Selt defeated mere neighbours on the rankings ladder, they seemed to reset the now traditional trend of unpredictable results. At 79 in the World, Sanderson Lam made up for 22 inferior positions to Noppon Saengkham with a solid 4-1 victory, whilst number 43 seed Jack Lisowski overcame the biggest deficit as he made a mockery of the 27 place difference between himself and Mark King.

Regular title contenders Judd Trump and Neil Robertson saw off their respective opponents, though fellow top ten player Joe Perry could not repeat the feat. He was stunned 4-1 by Jamie Jones, whilst number 66 seed John Astley saw off Ben Woollaston and Sanderson Lam progressed past Peter Ebdon with both underdogs making up over 40 places.

Whilst the first eight names into the last 16 rest on Saturday, top ten players Barry Hawkins, Liang Wenbo, Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy begin their campaigns, with the latter granted a walkover against Ken Doherty. The tournament will be granted a new Champion in the absence of 2016 winner Marco Fu who has decided to avoid the tournament along with Ronnie O'Sullivan.