Championship League Snooker 2020 – Groups 2 and 13

Snooker returned on our screens yesterday with groups 2 and 13 of the CLS 2020 in Milton Keines.

Here is the report by WST:

World Champion Judd Trump was off to a winning start as the Matchroom.Live Championship League got underway in Milton Keynes.

Click here for Group Tables, Results and Fixtures and here for details of how to watch live.

The return of live snooker, after an 11-week absence, saw Trump pick up where he left off in March when he won the Gibraltar Open – his sixth ranking title of the season.

The world number one was far from his best, but by beating David Grace 3-0 and Elliot Slessor 3-1 in his first two matches he did enough to top Group 2 and secure his place in the Group Winners’ stage next Wednesday.

On the other table, David Gilbert finished top of Group 13 by winning two of his matches and drawing the other.

World number 11 Gilbert opened with a 3-0 defeat of Jackson Page, firing breaks of 65, 51 and 89, then drew 2-2 with Jak Jones. In his third match he beat Stuart Carrington 3-0 with a top run of 100 to book his place in the second phase.

The action continues on Tuesday with Jack Lisowski, Michael Holt and Luca Brecel among the players on the baize.

Those are yesterday’s results:


The setup looks nice but it still feels very weird, without a crowd. I watched group 2 on Eurosport, being in Greece, and the commentary they provided was good as usual. I’m certain that ITV did a great job of it as well.

The players were all rusty, to say the least. Judd Trump was certainly far below his best. In the first match of the group he gave David Grace countless very good chances, but David was struggling really badly and missing the most basic pots.

Judd should also have lost the first frame against Elliott Slessor, who was looking like the dominant player at the table. With just one red left on the table, he trailed 21-62, hence needed two 4 points snookers to win, 6 points in penalty to tie. To make things worse for Judd, the pink was on the side cushion, on the right side of the table as we look on TV, mid-way between the top and middle pockets. Judd managed to lay a decent snooker, and in attempting to escape, Elliott hit the black first. Judd now could win by one point. He then played an excellent shot from the blue to develop the pink and won by 63-62. The ES commentator reflected that this was a frame he had “no right to win” … but he did and that changed the psychology of the match.

The thing that players seemed to struggle the most with was … to go and fetch the implements in the racks away from the table. Countless times they fetched them at their usual place under the table before realising that there was nothing there!

The lockdown also had a strange effect on Judd’s hair, morphing him into a younger version of Terry Griffiths, minus the glasses. Judd’s management vigorously refuted the idea that this was, in any way, intentional. Daniel Wells also came out sporting a new hairdo, a very short crop, in a rather bright yellow (at least that’s how it came out on my screen). I’m not sure if he asked Dominic Dale for advice on hair fashion or if it’s a Welsh thing somehow. Whatever it is, I found the result slightly disturbing.

After the matches Judd declared (**):

“I felt it was important to set an example, to come here to show my support for everyone that has tried their best to get this event on…everyone behind the scenes has done and amazing job and put us at the forefront of sport at the moment.”

Indeed. They deserve every credit. Well said Judd, and thank you for playing, despite clearly not being the best prepared.

I didn’t see anything of the Group 13 action. Going by the live scores only, it seems that Jackson Page, the lowest-ranked player in the original draw (*), made a really good fight of it, after losing his first match by 3-0.

Today we might have two closer groups. Jack Lisowski and Luca Brecel are set to face each other in Group 9, along with Robbie Williams and Oliver Lines, whilst Michael Holt is also in action in Group 3, with the experienced Mark Davis, the always dangerous Mark Joyce, and the young and very talented Louis Heathcote.

(*) Following Alex Ursenbacher withdrawal, Rory Thor is now the lowest-ranked player in the draw.

(**) source: Matt Huart on twitter



One thought on “Championship League Snooker 2020 – Groups 2 and 13

  1. A few teething problems, but things I’m sure they will address. Stephen Hendry and Neal Foulds seemed to be sitting at home for 8 hours, with hardly any chance for input. I assume they will be allowed more involvement as the tournament unfolds. Apart from the lack of rests under the table, I think players struggled with the heavy conditions.

    I would have preferred them to play the groups in series, using both tables. That would mean the seeded player would play each of his opponents successively on Table 1. Everyone would get a run of 12 frames rather than having to wait around for hours between batches of 4 frames. You’d get two decisive rounds per day, increasing excitement. All 64 players would get a game on the TV table, but with the top player always there to ensure the best quality. Alan McManus answered me to say that they wanted to keep each table separate for the 4 players in a single group, which is reasonable – they probably do a deep clean each morning. But it does mean that the main table will be showing some very mundane snooker.

    Also the group table is unnecessarily fussy: ‘3 points for a win’ just looks like something to keep football devotees happy. I’d say just play 12 frames and whoever wins most goes through.

    One significant detail I heard was that the 3pm start was because they needed time for test results to come through. If that’s true it will have implications for match scheduling going forward.

    I didn’t see anything on Table 2, but Jackson Page’s 2nd place is another small step. I’ve been watching him all season and he’s gradually improving.

    Dan Wells had a DIY haircut, and then tried to disguise it with the rinse. Terry Griffiths was actually a contact lens user until late in his career, but the comparison did allow them to talk about their favourite subject: the 1980’s.

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