World Championship Qualifiers: King and Hamilton dumped out whilst Liang falls a ball short of making history

World Championship Qualifiers: King and Hamilton dumped out whilst Liang falls a ball short of making history

Liang Wenbo missed the final black when chasing his second 147 break of the match, a feat never achieved before in a competitive contest.

Chris Lincoln

64 players moved a step closer to the World Championships at the Crucible after winning the first of three gruelling qualification rounds in Sheffield.

Liang scores big

The most impressive victory was recorded by Liang Wenbo, a firm favourite to be one of the 16 qualifiers. The World number 19 thrashed Rod Lawler 10-2 but should have created history. No player has ever recorded two maximum breaks in a competitive contest but Liang missed a relatively straightforward final black in frame 12 after making 147 just two frames before.

The shock of the round was recorded by Polish amateur Adam Stefanow. The 24-year old defeated Gary Wilson, who qualified for the main stage last year, and is the only amateur left in the competition.

Mark King still harboured hopes of breaking into the top 16 during the last event of the season but was edged out by number 90 seed Gerard Greene in a final frame decider. World number 29 Anthony Hamilton was also stunned by Martin O'Donnell in a 10-7 defeat.

Mark Joyce, Cao Yupeng and Fergal O'Brien were the only other top 50 players to depart in the opening round of qualification matches, all losing to players outside of the top 90. Robin Hull made up 71 places on number 38 seed Cao.

Fan favourite White progresses

Veteran Jimmy White kept his dreams alive of rolling back the years by defeating Sam Craigie to set up a mouthwatering second-round clash against good friend Joe Perry.

There was no such luck for female hotshots Reanne Evans and Ng On Yee. Evans challenged Dominic Dale before succumbing to a 10-7 defeat whilst Yee was thrashed 10-1 by Matthew Selt.

Alexander Ursenbacher was tipped by some as a potential outsider to qualify but did himself no favours in a 10-8 defeat to Thepchaiya Un-Nooh as he was docked a frame for returning late after a mid-session interval. Meanwhile, Zhou Yuelong, Graeme Dott, Robert Milkins, Mark Davis, Joe Perry and Tian Pengfei will all be feeling confident after matching Matthew Selt's 10-1 success. 1997 World champion Ken Doherty and 2005 victor Peter Ebdon also progressed.