Mark Allen crashed out at the first hurdle in the defence of his Dafabet Masters title after losing to Luca Brecel in a final-frame decider at Alexandra Palace.
The Northern Irishman made a significant career breakthrough a year ago when he beat Kyren Wilson 10-7 in the final to claim his first Triple Crown trophy.
However, his bid for a repeat showing this year was over almost before it had begun as Brecel avenged his 6-3 defeat to Allen on his Masters debut in last year’s first round.
The Belgian racked up four half-century breaks and a superb 140 to dispatch the defending champion in what was an entertaining start to the 2019 tournament.
The 23-year-old started with a composed break of 75 before Allen hit back with a run of 67, only for Brecel to hit 50 in the next to lead 2-1.
Brecel took the fourth frame – the only one not to feature a half-century break – to extend his lead to 3-1, but 32-year-old Allen restored parity with breaks of 96 and 136.
However, Brecel went one better with a brilliant 140 to move 4-3 ahead before the duo traded the next three with runs of 83, 88 and 99 to force a deciding 11th frame.
But Brecel held his nerve to knock in his fourth half-century to send Allen home early and set up a second-round clash with the winner between Ding Junhui and Jack Lisowski.