Scotland's John Higgins and Anthony McGill were left pondering missed opportunities as a failure to dominate less fancied teams came back to haunt them.
Unbeaten Northern Ireland join Thailand in the final eight
In the tightest group of the competition, five teams went into their final two matches exercising hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals. Nothern Ireland's Mark Allen and Joe Swail limped their way over the line with a series of slender 3-2 victories, whilst similar results for Scotland eventually allowed Thailand to leapfrog them.
Defeat to Northern Ireland effectively put Scotland out of the competition, though their failure to earn valuable extra points in victories over India and Cyprus ensured the Thailand team of Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Noppon Saengkham were granted an opportunity to progress. The duo finished the group stages in style with a 5-0 victory that left them at the helm of Group D.
Chinese teams leave it late
In Group A, the Wales team of Ryan Day and Mark Williams comfortably progressed despite a final game defeat to Brazil. It opened a thrilling finale as defending champions China 2 squeezed past Malaysia 3-2, leaving Brazil and the duo of Yan Bingtao and Zhou Yuelong level on frames and number of wins. China's 4-1 win over Brazil on Wednesday was enough to squeeze them through following a tied points situation.
China 1 found themselves in a similarly tight finish as Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo were left needing a win over Marco Fu's Hong Kong to progress. A 16-point final frame victory ensured the host nation had both sides in the knockout stages, with China joining the Belgium pairing of Luca Brecel and amateur Jeff Jacobs in Group B qualification.
Iran join England in the quarter-finals
A 5-0 victory over Pakistan ensured that England's Judd Trump and Barry Hawkins qualified with a game to spare. Yet the race to join the 1989 champions in the last eight could not have been any tighter as Iran faced off with Malta and Neil Robertson's Australia took on England with both nations equal on points.
Yet Iran's Hossein Vafaei and Soheil Vahedi followed up an impressive 4-1 victory over Australia with a 5-0 defeat of Malta, effectively making Australia's result against England redundant to earn them a surprise place in the final eight.
It leaves Saturday's quarter-finals reading as follows:
Wales vs Iran
Thailand vs China 1
Belgium vs China 2
England vs Northern Ireland