Ding remains in 16th place on the projected rankings but his fate is now out of his hands. Stephen Maguire and Kyren Wilson are best placed to eclipse Ding and if either reaches the semi-finals in Beijing then the Chinese ace would have to win three qualifying matches to earn a spot at the Crucible next month.
Ding looked jaded in front of his home fans, having reached the quarter-finals of last week’s Players Championship before travelling to the Far East. A break of 136 in the fourth frame was his only highlight as world number 76 Walker won the other five frames with a top break of 88, and the Welshman sealed victory in the sixth after Ding missed the final pink.
Walker said: “I played well and Ding was under a bit of pressure because of the top 16 situation and the fact that everyone expects him to do well here. I beat him in the Welsh Open last season, he’s a brilliant player but I if I play well I can beat anyone. If Ding does have to qualify for the Crucible then no one will want to play him. I’m sure he’ll be back winning tournaments soon.”
Liang Wenbo also suffered defeat, losing 5-2 to Peter Lines, and he is now out of the running for an automatic Crucible spot as he will be 17th at best when the seeding axe falls at the end of this tournament.
Liang Wenbo- will need to qualify for the Crucible
Michael White, lying 15th, lost 5-1 to Jack Lisowski and must hope that two players don’t overtake him on the list. Those results mean that Marco Fu, in 14th, and all those above him are safe.
Scotland’s Maguire boosted his hopes with 5-3 win over last year’s runner-up Gary Wilson. “Both of us were rubbish,” admitted Maguire. “I don’t take much confidence from that.”
On a day of surprise results, world number three Neil Robertson lost 5-3 to Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham. Robertson knocked in back-to-back breaks of 106 to make it 3-3 but didn’t score a point in the last two frames as Saengkham compiled runs of 70 and 80.
World Champion Stuart Bingham beat Cao Yupeng 5-0 with a top break of 128 while John Higgins saw off Zhou Yuelong 5-2.
Players Championship quarter-finalist Mike Dunn came from 4-1 down to beat Alan McManus 5-4, winning the decider with a brown to black clearance.