REIGNING champion Mark Allen was knocked out of the Masters on the opening day in London.
He 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.
He 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 World number six was trailing 3-1 at the mid-session interval before levelling with a 136 break.
He then knocked in a 99 to level at 5-5, but an error in the decider saw him knock a red into a middle pocket before the cue ball cannoned off the green into the opposite pocket.
This misfortune for The Pistol allowed Brecel an opportunity to win the match.
“Luca deserved it,” the 32-year-old conceded. “I've got no complaints.”
The Antrim man won three titles last year, including his maiden Triple Crown title when he beat Kyren Wilson in last year's Masters final.
He narrowly missed the chance to win a second Triple Crown trophy in December when he was defeated by O'Sullivan in the UK Championship final.
“I didn't miss many pots but my long game just wasn't there and that's how he won,” he added.
“I was hoping for a chance in the last frame but it didn't quite come along.
“I felt like I had him in trouble in the final frame, but I think that was the story of the match.
“I don't feel I did that much wrong other than a few errors over distance.
“You get punished highly at this level and Luca has proved that he is a top-16 player.
“He played really good stuff.”