Kyren Wilson marched into the second stage of the BetVictor Championship League in Leicester on Thursday despite falling agonisingly short of making his fifth maximum break in competition.
Wilson, the world number eight, came into the event with low expectations after injuring his leg on a recent stag-do in Portugal, but hit the ground running as a break of 111 helped him secure a quickfire 3-0 victory over amateur Josh Mulholland.
The 31 year-old five-time ranking event winner was poised to wrap up a 3-0 win against Louis Heathcote with a 147 but finished with an awkward angle on the pink and, trying to force it in to obtain position on the black, missed the pot.
The break therefore stalled at 134 but Wilson, who made a maximum in last season’s World Championship, was left requiring just one frame from his final match against Andy Hicks to win Group 5.
He clinched it with his fourth century of the day, 100, and completed victory at 3-1. “First tournament of the season, I felt quite rusty coming in but I’m delighted with how I played today. I only had three or four days practice before this so I’m chuffed,” Wilson said.
“I’m really looking forward to the season. China is back on the calendar and we’re going to be really busy. It’s exciting.”
Heathcote, who bounced back from tour relegation by coming through Q School earlier this month, had beaten Hicks 3-1 and later defeated Mulholland 3-0 to finish in second place.
Thepchaiya Un Nooh dominated Group 29, making successive clearances of 132 and 140 to beat Austria’s Florian Nuessle 3-0 in his opening match.
Un Nooh, the 2019 Shootout champion, sat out a break of 103 from Victor Sarkis – the first century the Brazilian has made on the World Snooker Tour – but compiled a run of 90 in the next and added two closer frames to win 3-1 and take control of the group. The Thai then eased to a 3-0 victory over Elliot Slessor to complete a clean sweep.
“I’m happy with my performance today. I haven’t practised much lately. I went back to Thailand for a holiday. I just wanted to enjoy it today and treat it as practice,” he said.
Nuessle enjoyed 3-0 victories over Slessor and Sarkis to finish the group in second position.
Friday’s main table action will see former world champions Mark Williams and Ken Doherty renewing their rivalry in a group which also includes Welshman Dylan Emery and Polish amateur Daniel Holoyda.
The BetVictor Championship League Snooker is the first ranking event of the season and carries total prize money of £328,000.
The eventual winner on July 21 will earn a place in the prestigious Champion of Champions event in Bolton from November 13-19.