Snooker's biggest stars have barely had time to breathe in Rotterdam, but that won’t stop them progressing through the current championship in anything other than ruthless style.
The hectic European Tour 2 program ensures no competitors have time to rest in a meet that produces fixtures thick and fast.
Although a confusing schedule allows some players to compete in Round 5 before others have started Round 3, the competition’s favourites all made an appearance by the end of Day 2.
Stuart Bingham’s excellent 2012/13 season saw the Englishman rise to sixth in the World Snooker Rankings, a career high for the 37-year-old who would enter this competition in Round 3.
He has shown great form in Rotterdam and strolled into Round 4 with a 4-0 win over Adam Duffy. His next encounter against Ryan Causton proved slightly more challenging, although Bingham still emerged with a 4-1 victory.
Bingham's tweet confirmed the relentlessness of such a tournament and hinted plenty of hard work remains:
Hammad Miah offered brilliant resistance against Bingham in Round 5 and threatened to cause a major upset. Bingham’s opponent is ranked No. 106 in the world and will feel proud to have lost 4-3 to the individual who now faces Martin O'Donnell in Round 6.
Such a frail victory highlights the difficulty top-level players face, as expectation continues to shroud concentration.
John Higgins doesn’t suffer with such problems. He blitzed Sam Harvey 4-0 in Round 3 and maintained terrific form to overcome Elliot Slessor 4-1 in his next match. Round 5 saw "The Hurricane" scrape past Daniel Wells, who started the 2013/14 season ranked 87th in the world.
Higgins faces a difficult task against Stephen Maguire in Round 6. He may have lost to the Scotsman in the last 16 of the 2012 German Masters, but Higgins has a decent record against one of the world's best players.
The two friends always compete fiercely against each other and often meet in important matches. Higgins overcame Maguire in the 2011 Welsh Open final and will extend his recent form to beat an opponent who recently suffered a shocking defeat to lowly Thai Dechawat Poomjaeng.
Hurricane fans will have enjoyed his impressive showing in Rotterdam and should expect a closely fought win over Maguire.
Equally as impressive was Mark Selby. "The Jester from Leicester" started brightly with a 4-1 win over 19-year-old Scott Donaldson, who will be proud to have taken one frame away from the World No. 1.
Selby reaffirmed his status as one of the Rotterdam favourites with a 4-0 thrashing of Daniel Ward. The 31-year-old Englishman—who hasn’t won a major competition since triumphing in the 2004 Baltic Cup—proved quick fodder for a player whose immovable nature sees him pose a major threat to the likes of Bingham and Higgins.
Newcomer John Astley offered decent resistance in Round 5. Ultimately, the 24-year-old's inexperience showed with a 4-2 loss to Selby, who strolled through without any trouble.
Astley has never progressed beyond the quarterfinal stage of a professional competition and never had any chance of defeating the three-time Masters winner.
Jimmy Robertson is next up for Selby in Round 6. Expect another routine win from the man who continues to regain confidence after his 2013 Wuxi Classic defeat to Andrew Pagett.
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