Jack Lisowski and Luca Brecel secured their progress at the WST Pro Series event as the top two qualifiers from the eight-man Group N in Milton Keynes.
Lisowski, Brecel and former Welsh Open finalist Andrew Higginson finished the section on 15 points after Lisowski beat 2006 world champion Graeme Dott 2-0, Brecel defeated Zak Surety 2-0 and Higginson overcame Brandon Sargeant 2-0.
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With each man enjoying five wins from seven matches, overall frame difference and head-to-head failed to split the top three in the section, but Lisowski topped the trio with a +1 frame difference ahead of Brecel on 0 and Higginson edged out on -1.
It was a glorious return to form for world No 14 Lisowksi, who admitted his anguish at being forced to withdraw from the Masters earlier this month due to a positive Covid-19 test before his first-round match with Kyren Wilson.
“I was gutted,” said Lisowski, who enjoyed two centuries on Monday.
The feeling was 10 times worse than any game I have ever lost. To not be able to play was so confusing. And then to be told I had Covid – I was thinking about all these things.
"Luckily I was fine, but I was gutted because I had a lot of momentum and I was playing great. I fancied a good run. But it wasn’t meant to be so I had to suck it up, take ten days in isolation and then started practising for this tournament.”
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Lisowski will face Louis Heathcote in the last 32 of the German Masters on Thursday morning.
“I knew I had to win my last match 2-0 to have a chance – I did it and it feels great," said Lisowki. "I felt as if I was getting sharper as the day was going on. It’s a good warm-up for the German Masters.”
WST Pro Series last-32 qualifiers
- Jack Lisowski
- Luca Brecel
- Luo Honghao
- Zhou Yeulong
- Shaun Murphy
- Louis Heathcote
- Zhao Xintong
- Dominic Dale
- Stuart Bingham
- Sam Craigie
- Martin O'Donnell
- Lu Ning
- Kyren Wilson
- Sunny Akani
- Joe Perry
- Xiao Guodong
This will be the first edition of the WST Pro Series, which has arrived on the snooker scene for 2021.
The legendary Stephen Hendry was set to make his eagerly-anticipated comeback, but withdrew on Friday January 15 and was replaced by John Astley. Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump and Mark Selby are also in the draw.
The WST Pro Series will offer up total prize money of £420,500 and will take place at Arena MK in Milton Keynes.
What is the format?
The players have been split into 16 groups of eight for the initial round-robin phase. All matches are best-of-three frames, and the top two in each group will progress to the second group stage.
The second phase will feature 32 players split into four groups of eight, and the top two in each group will then progress.
The player who finishes top of the final group of eight players will be crowned the champion of the inaugural edition of the event.
- January 18-25: Groups 1-8
- March 9-16: Groups 9-16
- March 17-20: Second group stage
- March 21: Final group
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