Snooker's fastest and most controversial tournament, the Coral Shoot-Out, has started in Watford with the defending champion Anthony McGill knocked out before he even potted a ball.
Five top ten seeds dismissed in the first round
Stars such as Mark Selby, Judd Trump, Ding Junhui and Ronnie O'Sullivan all opted to boycott the ranking event that divides opinion on the snooker circuit. Some see the ten-minute matches as 'random' and a case of 'luck rather than judgement' whilst supporters point to how it 'speeds up the traditional game'.
Scotland's McGill benefitted from the fast nature of the tournament last year but the unpredictability of the competition was proven with his departure showing a zero against his name on the scoresheet. It wasn't a case of McGill underperforming, more a brilliant piece of break-building by Mark Davis who recorded a 102 formulation in less than ten minutes.
Joe Perry, Allan Taylor and Elliot Slessor all record half-century breaks in the opening round, whilst five amateurs progressed into the last 64. Ross Valance's 52-32 victory over compatriot Alan McManus was the most notable of those results.
Kyren Wilson, Mark Allen and Ryan Day joined McGill on the list of top ten seeds to depart after just one game, as did Shaun Murphy who was the highest ranked player to enter the tournament. The shoot-out offers a random draw throughout and Murphy was defeated 67-0 by the second highest ranked player in the competition, Barry Hawkins, who won the 2012 competition.
Experienced heads lead the way in round two
The second round is split across two days and the first 16 matches were played on Friday evening. A series of close encounters entertained the vocal crowd as Matthew Stevens, Gerard Greene and Ricky Walden all progressed by just one point. Number 11 seed Martin Gould won by just six points, whilst veteran Nigel Bond made it through by half that cushion. Both players are previous winners of the tournament.
Tom Ford and Michael Georgiou scored the first half-century breaks of the second round but Peter Ebdon, a former World champion, and Robert Milkins, the 2011 shoot-out runner-up, were stunned by outsiders. Ebdon lost to number 107 seed Sean O'Sullivan and Milkins was defeated by the unseeded Hamza Akbar.
Hawkins completed the evening's action with victory over Alex Davies but not before he was issued a scare midway through the contest. The amateur stormed into a commanding advantage before owning up to a foul that nobody else saw. The world number eight went on to win with a break of 54.