China Championship: Home favourites stun former World champions in opening round drama

After a two month break from ranking tournaments, snooker has returned with immediate drama after the opening round of the China Championship produced a flurry of surprise results.

Li and Bingtao make up for Wenbo absence

With Liang Wenbo, Kyren Wilson and Ricky Walden all disposed of during qualification in June, an expectant Guangzhou crowd were anticipating more surprise outcomes and they were certainly not disappointed.

2010 World champion Neil Robertson came into the tournament on the back of winning the Hong Kong Masters. Yet his good form did not last for long as number 58 seed Li Hang defeated him in a final frame decider.

It was a similar outcome for 2015 World champion Stuart Bingham who struggled for consistency against Yan Bingtao. Predicted by some to be a future World number one, 17-year old Bingtao saw off Bingham 5-3.

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Stevens and O'Brien roll back the years

The unexpected results did not end there as a handful of top 20 players were dumped out of the competition. Mark Allen has looked strong over the past six months but was defeated by veteran Matthew Stevens in a final frame decider.

Fellow old stager Fergal O'Brien eased past Mark King, whilst Anthony McGill could not get close to Mark Joyce who defeated him 5-4.

Joe Perry fell foul of distractions off the table as he was thrashed 5-1 by Mike Dunn on the back of his suspended ban for gambling. Michael Holt was defeated by Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Ben Woollaston lost by the smallest of margins to Mark Davis.

Higgins continues his defence as Selby and O'Sullivan progress

Yet a number of superstars remain in the mix for the China Championship crown. World champion Mark Selby was in impressive form as he defeated Noppon Saengkham 5-1 and he was followed into the second round by defending champion John Higgins who beat Chris Wakelin 5-2.

Three-frame margins of victories were popular with the household names as Barry Hawkins, Ding Junhui, Judd Trump, Ronnie O'Sullivan and Mark Williams all recorded 5-2 victories.

Shaun Murphy and Ali Carter found life tougher as they had to rely on final frame deciders to progress. However, an intriguing set of fixtures lays in store for the last 32 with O'Sullivan against David Gilbert, Ryan Day versus Mark Williams and Stephen Maguire against young Yan Bingtao the highlights.