Ronnie O’Sullivan was eliminated from the Championship League on Friday as Zhao Xintong breezed through to the final group stage.
O’Sullivan watched Yuan Sijun complete a 3-0 triumph with breaks of 74, 64, and 59 before Group A winner Pang Junxu proved too hot to handle in a 3-1 victory with breaks of 104 and 73, with the world No. 1 putting in 74 in the third frame.
The 39-time ranking event winner won 3-0 over old Essex foe Ali Carter in his final group match, aided by scores of 127 and 66, but it was only a consolation victory as he finished third in the section at the season’s opening ranking tournament in Leicester.
No. 53 in the world Pang made two 50-plus breaks in a 3-1 victory over Carter, and his victory over O’Sullivan left him needing a draw against compatriot Yuan.
He finished his task with a 65 in the third frame, earning a point, before Yuan won a point to finish second in the group with a 73.
In Group D, UK champion Zhao Xintong hit the highest break of his six-year professional career with a 145 knock in a 3-0 win over Chang Bingyu.
Further breaks of 123 and 101 helped him to a 3-0 win over Gary Wilson before a 2-2 draw with Mark Allen guaranteed he won the section by a point over Wilson.
Zhao’s hot streak continued with 101 and 87 points against Allen, who countered with 60 and 104 points of his own.
On Thursday, the penultimate day of the second stage begins, with Shaun Murphy and Luca Brecel vying for the remaining two berths in the last eight at the Morningside Arena.
Ronnie O’Sullivan has the referee laughing
In a 3-0 victory over old Essex rival Ali Carter, O’Sullivan produced breaks of 127 and 66 as well as break wind before potting the last pink.
The referee couldn’t keep his mouth shut as the world number one slotted the black to make an unforgettable exit at the season’s opening ranking tournament in Leicester.
When it comes to farting during games, O’Sullivan has a track record.
He couldn’t stop smiling after dropping one against Tom Ford in a WST Pro Series match last year and another against Matthew Stevens at the Northern Ireland Open in 2020, leaving the referee with a face redder than the pack.
It is never predictable when Rocket Ronnie takes to the table.