Ronnie O'Sullivan suffered a surprise exit at the Championship League as Zhao Xintong eased through to the final group stage on Friday.
O'Sullivan watched Yuan Sijun make breaks of 74, 64 and 59 in completing a 3-0 win before Group A winner Pang Junxu proved too hot to handle in a 3-1 success that saw him contribute 104 and 73 with the world No. 1 running in 74 in the third frame.
The 39-time ranking event winner completed a 3-0 victory over old Essex foe Ali Carter in his final group match boosted by a 127 and 66, but it was a consolation victory in finishing third in the section at the season's first ranking event in Leicester.
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World No. 53 Pang made two 50-plus breaks in a 3-1 win over Carter with his triumph against O'Sullivan leaving him needing a draw against compatriot Yuan.
He duly completed his assignment with a 65 in the third frame securing a point before Yuan earned a point to finish second in the group with a closing 73.
UK champion Zhao Xintong made the highest break of his six-year professional career with a 145 knock in a 3-0 opening win over Chang Bingyu in Group D.
Further breaks of 123 and 101 saw him complete a 3-0 win over Gary Wilson before a 2-2 draw with Mark Allen ensured he topped the section, a point clear of Wilson.
Zhao continued his heavy scoring streak with 101 and 87 against Allen, who responded with 60 and 104 of his own.
Zhao joins Lyu Haotian and Xiao Guodong in Group 2 on Friday with Pang facing Lu Ning and Stuart Bingham in Group 1. The two group winners will contest the final on Friday night.
The final day of the second stage begins on Thursday with Shaun Murphy and Luca Brecel both hoping to claim the final two spots in the last eight at the Morningside Arena.
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