Robert Milkins and Barry Hawkins have joined Judd Trump and Ryan Day to complete the second round Group A very strong line-up.
Barry Hawkins and Robert Milkins will join Judd Trump and Ryan Day in Group A of Stage Two of BetVictor Championship League Snooker after winning their respective groups at Stadium MK on Monday.
Hawkins’ progression was confirmed after his first two matches in Group Four thanks to wins over Ben Hancorn (3-0) and Jackson Page (3-1). He faced Sam Craigie last but lost 3-1, which meant the Newcastle potter finished undefeated in second on five points having drawn with both Hancorn and Page.
Hancorn was making his professional debut but finished bottom of the group despite notching up two draws, while Page took third by virtue of having a better frame difference.
Hawkins said: “You never know what to expect with the short format but I got off to a good start and won my first two games and can look forward to coming back for the next stage.
“It’s pleasing to top the group. It’s the first tournament of the season, so nice to get off to a good start. It would have been nice to win all the matches in the group but Sam Craigie played fantastic snooker in the last match so I have no complaints.
“It is an unbelievable job that has been done to get the calendar in place. So many people are losing their jobs so we are lucky to have some playing opportunities and a full calendar up until Christmas.”
On Table 2, Milkins opened Group 3 with a 3-0 win over Chen Zifan before Gary Wilson achieved the same scoreline against Jamie Jones. Wilson and Chen then drew 2-2 before Jones defeated Milkins 3-0. That meant Wilson could take the group if he could beat Milkins, but the Gloucestershire man scored his second 3-0 success of the day to take control and eliminate Wilson from contention.
Milkins was then left waiting for the result of Chen against Jones. If Jones could win without conceding a frame, then the Welshman would advance, but any other result would be good news for Milkins. Chen’s 76 break in the opening frame against Jones meant that Milkins was through to the next stage.
From a frame down, Jones turned things around against Chen to win 3-1 and take £2,000 for finishing second. Wilson earned £1,000 for finishing third while Chen came fourth with a solitary point.
BetVictor Championship League Snooker continues with Group 5 and Group 6 on Tuesday, with players including Stephen Maguire and Zhou Yuelong in action. Coverage of both tables is available at Matchroom.Live.
FINAL GROUP STANDINGS
P W D L FW FL +/- PTS Robert Milkins 3 2 0 1 6 3 3 6 Jamie Jones 3 2 0 1 6 4 2 6 Gary Wilson 3 1 1 1 5 5 0 4 Chen Zifan 3 0 1 2 3 8 -5 1
P W D L FW FL +/- PTS Barry Hawkins 3 2 0 1 6 4 2 6 Sam Craigie 3 1 2 0 7 4 3 5 Jackson Page 3 0 2 1 5 7 -2 2 Ben Hancorn 3 0 2 1 4 7 -3 2
Gary Wilson was the favourite in Group 3, but didn’t play well at all. I will even say that he was lucky to win a match there. His first match was the first of the group and he played Jamie Jones. For Jamie Jones, it was his first professional match since the end of his ban. Jamie is an emotional person and must have felt very nervous because he played terrible in that match. When he played Robert Milkins, in the afternoon, he settled and he was a different player entirely. Maybe the fact that him and Robert know each other very well, having both been part of Paul Mount’s stable and practicing at the SWSA, helped him. Whatever the reason, Jamie started to show his true potential. In my oponion he was the best player in the gtroup. I don’t condone Jamie Jones’ (lack of) action that lead to his ban, but IMO, he was hard done. The timing of his ban in particular had very harsh consequences.
Group 4 featured two young players and a Tour debutant. It was tough school for Ben Hancorn whose inexperience was blatant. Barry Hawkins played well and deserved to win the group, despite losing his last match by 3-0 to Sam Craigie. Sam played well there, no question, but I had the feeling that Barry, already knowing that he was through, had lost a bit of his focus and intensity.
Now about the two young players in group 4 … The match between Jackson Page and Sam Craigie demonstrated exactly why Ronnie has a point in his assesment of the young players. Both of them played some great shots, both potted a lot of great balls, but only too often, their shot selection was lacking badly. There was little reading of the table situation, little forward thinking, and this resulted in missed opportunities to develop the balls and create openings for themselves. In the professional game, contrary to the amateur game, you can’t get at the top relying on your potting excellence only. Jackson Page’s shot selection was completely stupid at times. I know that this is harsh, and I know that Jackson is only just 19, but that’s how it felt to me. On the other hand, his ability is remarkable and he showed tremendous battling qualities. Hopefully he will learn, but he needs to learn quickly, because he will be fighting for his professional status this season.