Mark Allen beat Lyu Haotian 10-2 in the world championship first round, and then paid tribute to the outgoing World Snooker Tour chairman, Barry Hearn.
The Northern Irish player has been one of Hearn’s most vociferous critics, but called Hearn “a revelation to the game” after the 72-year-old announced on Tuesday that he would be handing over the role to his son, Eddie.
“Pretty much everything he’s touched has turned to gold,” Allen said after sealing victory having led 7-2 following the morning session. “Where we were in 2010, we didn’t even feel like snooker players, and now we’re complaining we’re overworked – it’s been an amazing turnaround.”
“We’ve had a few disagreements over the years but he’s always been the first to support every single charity event I’ve ever done over the last 10 years, and he will be sadly missed,” the world No 13 added. “What they’ve done in this Covid year has been phenomenal, miles above any other sport and that’s testament to Barry and his team.”
Allen famously clashed with Hearn during the 2011 UK Championship over the decision to reduce it to a best-of-11 format. He insisted the move proved that under Hearn “the whole tradition of the game is going to pot”. Allen was fined for his outburst with Hearn retorting that the player was “a silly little boy”.
Judd Trump made an emphatic start to his quest for a second world title as he established a 7-2 overnight lead over Liam Highfield. Trump, the world No 1 with five titles to his name already this season, kicked off with a break of 116 and seldom looked back as qualifier Highfield struggled to stay in touch.
Former champion Stuart Bingham came through a titanic battle with Ding Junhui, prevailing in a final-frame shootout after the match was paused at 9-9. Bingham fired three centuries in the match but it was Ding who missed a number of chances to move clear, not least a black off its spot that enabled Bingham to go 8-7 ahead.
Ding got the first chance in the decider but missed a long red and Bingham was eager to seize his chance, compiling a break of 70 which was enough to seal a nervy victory. “I’m over the moon to get through that game, it was a classic match. I was gutted to get pulled off [the table] at 9-9, but it probably did us both a favour to chill out for a few hours.” Bingham will face fellow qualifier Jamie Jones in the last 16.
Jack Lisowski battled back from 8-6 behind to edge out Ali Carter, with two consecutive half-centuries pulling him level after Carter had moved one frame from victory. “It was a big win there. I managed to hang on with a few frames, and at 8-6 it was not looking good for me, so to have won from there it was good stuff,” Lisowski said afterwards.
On Wednesday, former winners Mark Williams, Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy begin their campaigns with first-round matches against Sam Craigie, Kurt Maflin and Mark Davis respectively.