Luca Brecel's Best Long Pots | 2023 Cazoo World Championship

O’Sullivan Ahead / Allen On The Brink

Ronnie O’Sullivan surged into a 6-2 lead against Hossein Vafaei in the first session of their Cazoo World Championship last-16 clash, while on the other table Mark Allen moved to the verge of victory as he established a 12-4 advantage over Stuart Bingham.

Match schedule

Vafaei and O’Sullivan briefly bumped fists at the start of the contest

Vafaei intensified his rivalry with O’Sullivan with passionate words after his first round win over Ding Junhui, and the strength of his feeling was obvious today when he smashed the pack of reds in the second frame – exactly what O’Sullivan had done during a previous meeting in the 2021 German Masters qualifiers. However the Iranian did little talking on the table as defending champion O’Sullivan opened up a four-frame cushion.

They return for eight more frames on Saturday from 2.30pm, and if O’Sullivan wins seven of those then he will be through to the quarter-finals at the Crucible for the  21st time. Otherwise the contest will conclude from 10am on Sunday.

World number one O’Sullivan took the opening frame with a break of 78, then capitalised on Vafaei’s unorthodox break-off in the second to make another 78 for 2-0. Vafaei, the only player from Iran to compete at the Crucible, made a 64 in the third and eventually won it with an excellent long pot on the final pink.

O’Sullivan dominated the next three with runs of 69, 51 and 102 – the last of those was a landmark break as he became the first player to score 200 centuries at the Crucible. Frame seven came down to a safety battle on the colours, and O’Sullivan laid a snooker on the yellow, then took advantage of the chance that followed for 6-1.

In the last frame of the session, Chigwell’s O’Sullivan led 44-0 when he missed the pink to a top corner, and Vafaei capitalised with a run of 58 to reduce the deficit.

Meanwhile, Allen won seven consecutive frames today and could have finished his second round match a session early, but Bingham took the last frame of the day to give himself a glimmer of hope. They return at 10am on Saturday and Bingham must win the last nine frames.

Northern Ireland’s Allen, the player of the season so far having won three ranking titles, is looking to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2018, and if he achieves that goal then his next opponent will be Neil Robertson or Jak Jones.

Third seed Allen led 5-3 overnight and soon made it 7-3 with breaks of 53 and 75. In frame 11, Bingham had a chance to clear from 67-0 down, but ran out of position on the final black then over-cut a tough pot to a top corner. Allen slotted in the black for 8-3, then reeled off the next four frames with top runs of 65, 97 and 51 to lead 12-3.

And he had a chance to wrap up the tie in the last of the session but made only 25 and Bingham replied with 103 to stay alive.