Championship League Snooker 2020 (!) – Groups 1 and 2

The Championship League Snooker usually starts early January. This season, due to the congested schedule at the start of next year, it started this week. Groups 1 and 2 were played in Leicester from last Monday, till yesterday.

Neil Robertson won Group 1 (Worldsnooker)

Neil Robertson fought back from 2-0 down to defeat Ryan Day 3-2 in the Group One final of BetVictor Championship League Snooker and become the first player to make it through to Winners’ Group.

BetVictor Championship League Snooker is broadcast on a host of betting websites and on zhibo.tv, one of the biggest sports streaming platforms in China.

Day raced to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five final at Morningside Arena in Leicester, making a break of 126 in the second frame. Robertson hit back with a 79 and capitalised in the fourth to draw level after Day had missed opportunities to see out the match. Robertson then made a decisive 56 break to take the fifth frame 80-1.

“It wasn’t going too well for me yesterday and I lost my first two group matches,” said Robertson, who won £6,100 during the group. “From that point on you’re trying to scrape through and maybe take fifth but today I played much better. If I’d lost to Mark Selby yesterday I’d probably have been out but that gave me a chance and I played much better today.

“I am really pleased to get through. Ryan was looking good at 2-0 up and cruising but he missed a tough black and I was able to capitalise.”

Having earned £4,800 during Group 1, Day has now won over £100,000 from Championship League Snooker since its inception in 2008.

Barry Hawkins had topped the group table having won all six of his league phase matches, but lost 3-0 in the semi-finals to Day, who had scraped into the final four having won one frame more than Jack Lisowski. Robertson beat Mark Selby in the deciding frame of their best-of-five semi-final. Selby took the group high break prize of £500 for his 131 against Neil Robertson in the group phase.

Having finished fifth in the round-robin group table, Lisowski will return to compete in Group Two tomorrow, along with Day, Hawkins and Selby. They are joined by three new players; Stuart Bingham, Gary Wilson and Kyren Wilson.

BetVictor Championship League Snooker is a venture between Matchroom Sport and Perform where 25 of the game’s elite players compete for their share of a total prize pot of up to £205,000.

Group Two continues at 11am on Wednesday. For live scores click here and for group fixtures and results go to http://www.championshipleaguesnooker.co.uk

Semi-Finals
Barry Hawkins 0-3 Ryan Day
17-75, 1-68 (Day 68), 25-71

Neil Robertson 3-2 Mark Selby
15-81 (Selby 77), 111-0 (Robertson 111), 88-4 (Robertson 59), 64-75 (Selby 52), 69-9 (Robertson 50)

Group Final
Ryan Day 2–3 Neil Robertson
63-24, 126-8 (Day 126), 49-85 (Robertson 79), 38-50, 1-80 (Robertson 56)

Here are the full GR1 results on snooker.org

Stuart Bingham won Group 2 (Worldsnooker)

Stuart Bingham defeated Mark Selby 3-1 in the Group Two final to join Neil Robertson in the Winners’ Group of BetVictor Championship League Snooker.

The Essex potter came third in the round-robin group phase with four wins from his six matches to set-up a semi-final clash with tournament debutant Gary Wilson, who he then defeated 3-0 with breaks of 96, 108 and 118.

Bingham, who won Championship League in 2015 before going on to win the World Championship later that season, met Selby in the group final after the Leicester man defeated Kyren Wilson 3-1 in his semi-final.

‘Ball-Run’ Bingham took the first frame of the final but was pegged back by Selby. However, the Essex man took the subsequent two frames to secure victory and a place in March’s big-money Winners’ Group.

“Something clicked today,” said Bingham, who now heads to Crawley to defend his 19.com English Open title. “My manager said ‘whatever you had for dinner, put it on the menu and we’ll have it all the time’ because after dinner I hardly missed a ball.

“I got through to the Winners’ Group last year and have won the tournament before, so it’s nice now to be able to look forward to coming back for the final group.

“I feel like I have been playing pretty well recently. There have been a couple of bad results here and there but all-in-all beating the likes of Gary Wilson and Mark in the final shows that my game is there.”

Staged at Morningside Arena, Leicester, BetVictor Championship League Snooker is broadcast on a host of betting websites and on zhibo.tv, one of the biggest sports streaming platforms in China.

Selby, Gary Wilson, Kyren Wilson and Barry Hawkins, who finished fifth on the group table, will now return for Group Three later this month, where they will be joined by Ali Carter, Graeme Dott and David Gilbert. Having finished sixth and seventh respectively in Group Two, Ryan Day and Jack Lisowski are eliminated from the competition.

BetVictor Championship League Snooker is a venture between Matchroom Sport and Perform where 25 of the game’s elite players compete for their share of a total prize pot of up to £205,000.

Semi-Finals
Mark Selby 3
-1 Kyren Wilson
95-0 (94), 133-0 (133), 8-96 (58), 65-56 (Selby 54)

 Stuart Bingham 3-0 Gary Wilson
104-36 (96), 109-19 (108), 126-1 (118)

Final
Stuart Bingham 3-
1 Mark Selby
68-28, 1-70 (61), 74-51, 92-0 (92)

Here are the full GR2 results on snooker.org

I have very mixed feelings about this competition. This is a tournament tailor made for the bookies and only shown on bookies websites. It’s also a tournament where players can earn more money by losing cleverly, and playing in successive groups, than by winning. On the other hand, because of the nature of the competition and it’s “elite” field, it often produced very entertaining matches where players really go for their shots and show the full extend of their skills. It also used to have good commentary by the likes od David Hendon and Clive Everton. Unfortunately, this time, I was not able to see a single ball of it.

Are the results an indication of the players form ahead of the English Open next week? I’m not sure. In 2010, Ronnie and Mark Selby played in Group 2, the week before the Masters. They finished at the two last places after the round-robin phase and were relegated. The next week, the two played each other in the Final of the Masters

Nevertheless, clearly Stuart Bingham and Neil Robertson are in good form. But what do we make of Ryan Day, reaching the final in Group 1 and being relegated in Group 2? Or of Barry Hawkins, not losing a round-robin match in Group 1 and just avoiding relegation in Group 2?