YORK snooker star Ashley Hugill is into the second round of the 2023 Betfred Snooker Shootout following a 40-20 victory over Andrew Pagett at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.
The 28-year-old, ranked 85 in the world, didn’t make things easy for himself, though, with the match hanging in the balance with just two and a half minutes remaining.
But Hugill showed all his class and experience to claim victory, edging himself into a 31-20 lead, despite the table having looked extremely uninviting, before guiding a final red into the corner to put the tie beyond doubt with 40 seconds left on the clock.
The Shootout, now in its 14th edition, and second in Leicester, has proved divisive among snooker fans, with modern audiences attracted by its quick-fire format, and older fans alienated by its limited capacity.
Each frame lasts just 10 minutes, with players given 15 seconds per shot in the first half, and 10 seconds per shot in the final five minutes to stop time-wasting. A five-point penalty is applied for failing to play a shot in that time.
Players must hit a cushion with any ball or pot with any shot, with tied matches decided by a blue ball shoot-out.
Unlike the traditional format, fans are also encouraged to spur on competitors, creating an atmosphere that has been likened to Twenty20 cricket and darts.
Hugill has never progressed further than the third round of the ranking competition, but has already improved on a disappointing first-round exit last season, in which he was beaten 66-36 by Matthew Selt on his way to a place in the last 16.
He will take on Leeds' David Grace, currently ranked 68, in the last 64 of the tournament this afternoon (1:10pm), with the match streamed live on Eurosport and Discovery+.
This year’s tournament has already delivered shocks aplenty, with both defending champion Hossein Vafaei and World No. 3 Mark Allen crashing out of the tournament on Wednesday, the latter by Jack Lisowski with just one second left on the clock.