The pairing of Noppon Saengkham and Thepchaiya Un Nooh had been in a precarious position in group A after suffering a surprise defeat in their opening match against Norway. However, a strong recovery saw them win their remaining four games, culminating in a fine victory against China’s Ding Junhui and Yan Bingtao.
Only two teams progress from each group and despite today’s loss Ding and Yan go through in first position, having secured emphatic wins in their first four matches.
The teams shared the first two frames, before a century run of 133 from Saengkham gave Thailand a 2-1 advantage. Un Nooh then ensured the win with a break of 61 to make it 3-1. Yan claimed the last frame of the match by beating Saengkham to ensure it ended 3-2.
Belgium finished top of group C thanks to a 3-2 win over Scotland. Both sides were already assured of a quarter-final place, with only first position in the group left riding on today’s tie.
The Belgian team is made up of 2017 China Champion Luca Brecel and 14-year-old prospect Ben Mertens. They faced illustrious opposition in the form of four-time World Champion John Higgins and five-time ranking event winner Stephen Maguire.
Today’s meeting came down to a deciding frame between Brecel and Higgins. It was the Belgian who held his nerve, firing in a break of 64 to clinch the tie and first place in the group.
Brecel said: “It is a great win today against Scotland. The pressure was obviously off, but we still played some good stuff at times and Ben did well, so we are very happy.”
Teenager Mertens added: “I’m quite comfortable here. I have played some good shots and this tournament has been an amazing experience for me. I’ve learned a lot.”