Stuart Bingham and Xiao Guodong are the latest players to make it through to Stage Two of BetVictor Championship League Snooker after topping their groups on Friday, live on Matchroom.Live.
Bingham opened the day’s play with a 3-0 win over Pang Junxu and later defeated James Cahill by the same scoreline, meaning he’d only need a frame in the final match against Yuan Sijun.
Yuan had lost his first fixture 3-1 to Cahill, but remained in contention by beating Pang by the same scoreline. He needed to beat Bingham 3-0 to advance, but in fact it was Bingham who won all three frames.
“I’ve been working hard on my game with my new coach Gary Filtness and the way it started off today, it was good,” said Bingham.
“The second match, the first frame could have gone either way but luckily for me it went my way and I carried on. To be in the next stage starts the season off with a good vibe and I’m looking forward to the next few weeks.”
On table two, China’s Xiao held his nerve to get the win he required in the group decider against Hossein Vafaei. The Iranian had impressed in beating Jak Jones and Farakh Ajaib 3-1, results which meant only a draw against Xiao was required. But the Chinese star proved his quality with breaks including 79 and 49 to win 3-0 and top the group.
BetVictor Championship League Snooker continues on Saturday with Graeme Dott, Liang Wenbo and Jack Lisowski among those in action. Coverage of both tables is available at Matchroom.Live, with UK television coverage on Freesports.
FINAL GROUP STANDINGS
P W D L FW FL +/- PTS Stuart Bingham 3 3 0 0 9 0 9 9 James Cahill 3 2 0 1 6 5 1 6 Yuan Sijun 3 1 0 2 4 7 -3 3 Pang Junxu 3 0 0 3 2 9 -7 0
P W D L FW FL +/- PTS Xiao Guodong 3 2 1 0 8 3 5 7 Hossein Vafaei 3 2 0 1 6 5 1 6 Farakh Ajaib 3 1 0 2 5 6 -1 3 Jak Jones 3 0 1 2 3 8 -5 1
Note that at the time of writing, the group 18 table, as published on the WST site, doesn’t take the last match of the day into account, a match that Farakh Ajaib won by 3-0. I have made the necessary corrections, in red, in the table above. It makes a big difference for Farakh Ajaib and Jak Jones, because Farakh is now third in the group, meaning he gets £1000 for his efforts and the matching ranking points, whilst Jak Jones gets nothing.
It’s good for Farakh Ajaib to get someting positive – a win and some money – out of his first day competing as a professional. I only saw him play a few balls yesterday, but he looked solid enough, and beating Jak Jones by 3-0 is an excellent result.
I watched Group 12, and from the very first balls, it was obvious that Stuart Bingham was in fine form. He dominated the group from start to finish.
James Cahill is a player I don’t rate that high. He’s more than capable to play brilliantly and has taken his fair share of big scalps, but he seems to rarely produce that sort of form when he’s the favourite in the match, or away from the television table. Yesterday he did win his matches against both his younger Chinese opponents, but he still didn’t convince me.
Neither Yuan Sijun, nor Pang Junxu played well yesterday. For Pang it was his first day as a pro and this can be intimidating, for Yuan it was a bad day in office for some reason. Yuan, who is currently ranked 45th in the World, can play much better than he did yesterday. I can only suppose that his preparation wasn’t ideal.