World number 120 Ben Hancorn stunningly topped Group I, with World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan bowing out, at the WST Pro Series in Milton Keynes.
English Amateur Champion Hancorn, who gained his professional status at the start of this season, lost his opening match 2-1 against Tom Ford. However, from there the 38-year-old embarked on a six-game winning streak to secure his place in the next phase.
Hancorn scored a 2-1 victory against 37-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan in his following game and added further wins over Jamie Wilson, David Lilley, Chen Zifan and Mark Joyce to seal a place in the top two heading into his final match. Hancorn faced Lyu Haotian, who was also assured of progression, winning 2-0 to secure top spot.
It was an unfruitful day for Crucible king O’Sullivan, who failed to string together the required results, only managing two wins from his seven matches. The Rocket did register an eventful win over Joyce. After falling a frame behind due to arriving late, he fired in breaks of 98, 48 and 50 to win 2-1 in a match which lasted just 13 minutes and 56 seconds.
Both Hancorn and Lyu will now join Mark Williams, Ali Carter, Louis Heathcote, James Cahill and Sunny Akani in Group 1 of the second phase on Wednesday.
Hancorn said: “It didn’t go well in my first match, I lost 2-1 and I thought here we go again. Then I played Ronnie and what can I say, I was so happy with that match and how I played. The pressure is unbelievable. I’ve never experienced anything like it. Holding it together stood me in good stead for the rest of the day. It’s amazing what one match can do, it can turn any player around.
“I started the season ok, I won a couple of matches. I thought that it would take a bit of time to bed in and get used to the situation. Then I went on a run where I was struggling to win frames, let alone matches. The format of this event suited me, it’s quick and it is only best of three. Anything can happen and I’m just glad to come out on top.”
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Phase one concludes on Tuesday from 10am with world number one Judd Trump among the players in action.
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