What happens when you hand Mark Selby a chance... | Century Clearance 💯 | 2021 Tour Championship

O’Connor Stuns The Pistol

World number 37 Joe O’Connor took full advantage of narrowly qualifying for this week’s Duelbits Players Championship by beating top seed Mark Allen 6-3 in Wolverhampton.

With the best performing 16 players of the season earning a place in this week’s elite event, O’Connor only just gained his spot by edging out three-time World Champion Mark Williams by £500.

The Leicester cueman clinched qualification with a fine run to the quarter-finals of last week’s Welsh Open. He has had the best campaign of his career so far this term, having also been runner-up to Gary Wilson at the Scottish Open before Christmas.

This evening’s win means O’Connor will now rise to a career high ranking at the end of the week. He’s guaranteed to move to at least 33rd position in the world rankings.

Meanwhile Allen will remain comfortably in first place on the one-year list and is assured of being top seed at the Duelbits Tour Championship in March. The Antrim potter has enjoyed a superb season, having racked up silverware at the Northern Ireland Open, UK Championship and Duelbits World Grand Prix.

Breaks of 63 and 64 helped O’Connor make a flying start this evening by moving 3-0 ahead. Allen showed his steel and fired in 85 to stay in touch at the mid-session, trailing 3-1.

When play resumed O’Connor re-asserted his authority and went 4-1 up. However, Allen immediately responded with a run of 91 to claw another frame back.

O’Connor moved to the verge of victory with a superb break of 132 to make it 5-2. Although Allen took the eighth, a clearance of 45 saw O’Connor steal the ninth on the colours and emerge a 6-3 victor. He now faces either Jack Lisowski or Luca Brecel in the quarter-finals.

“I’ve played a pretty solid match. I don’t think Mark was at his best, but fortunately he gave me a couple of chances I wouldn’t get when he is at his best and I managed to punish him,” said 27-year-old O’Connor.

“This is massive for me. It is my first time at the Players Championship, on the main table against the best player of the season by a mile. I’ve turned up, played some good stuff and nicked some frames.

“In practice I have been working on shots that have cost me frames and matches. That seems to have instilled a little bit of confidence knowing I have an all-round game now. My game has been at a good place for a while now and it has just been about waiting for the wins to come.”

On the other table, second seed Ryan Day scored an impressive 6-2 win over recently crowned Shoot Out champion Chris Wakelin.

Day has enjoyed a fine season thus far. It was highlighted by winning his fourth ranking title at the British Open, where he defeated Allen in the final.

The Welshman top scored with a break of 103 this evening. He progresses to the quarter-finals, where he takes on either Mark Selby or Shaun Murphy.