John Higgins and Joe Perry won their groups yesterday to complete the last 8 line-up. The tournament is played to a finish today.
John Higgins and Joe Perry have completed the line-up for Finals Day at BetVictor Championship League Snooker, which takes place at Stadium MK on Friday, live at Matchroom.Live.
Higgins won his final match 3-0 over Tom Ford to top Group G, after Martin Gould had drawn 2-2 with Jamie Clarke despite being on the brink of a victory which would have seen him through at Higgins’ expense.
The Wizard of Wishaw opened the day’s play with a 3-0 win over Clarke, before Ford had consecutive 2-2 draws, first against Gould and then against Clarke. But when Gould beat Higgins 3-0, the group was blown wide open.
European Masters finalist Gould then drew 2-2 with Clarke, despite looking on the verge of progression at 2-1 up with 48 points on the board in the fourth and final frame.
That left the door open for both Ford and Higgins. Ford would need to win 3-0 with a high break of 70 or better, while any win would suffice for four-time World Champion Higgins, and it was the Scot who got what he needed, winning 3-0 in 45 minutes.
“Martin will be kicking himself,” admitted Higgins. “He was 2-1 in front and on a good break and if he wins that frame he is through, so Jamie did me and Tom a big favour coming back to win that frame.
“I went and played ok, missed a couple, but I am over the moon to get through. Once I lost 3-0 to Martin I was thinking that would be me out, so I am happy to be through.
“Tomorrow will be a tough group but we are through to the final day and any eight of us could win it. It would be lovely to get my third Championship League Snooker title.”
The first match of the evening session saw Davis and Tian share the spoils, meaning Perry was assured of top spot in the group. The group concluded with Perry and Davis drawing 2-2 before Tian and Li had the same result.
“I felt better today and played some decent stuff,” said Perry. “All the groups are tough in this format. It doesn’t really matter who you are playing, it helps if you are playing somebody inexperienced but with Ken Doherty, Kyren Wilson and John Higgins you can’t much more experience that than, so it is going to be tough tomorrow.
“It is hard to be too confident in this short format but I feel that I am playing alright so if I can stay focused and concentrate well then I give myself a chance.”
Finals Day begins at 12:30pm on Friday, with Judd Trump, Mark Selby, Zhou Yuelong and Zhao Xintong in Group 1, and Higgins, Perry, Wilson and Doherty in Group 2. The two group winners will then play a best-of-five final to be crowned BetVictor Championship League Snooker champion.
FINAL GROUP STANDINGS
P W D L FW FL +/- PTS John Higgins 3 2 0 1 6 3 3 6 Martin Gould 3 1 2 0 7 4 3 5 Tom Ford 3 0 2 1 4 7 -3 2 Jamie Clarke 3 0 2 1 4 7 -3 2
P W D L FW FL +/- PTS Joe Perry 3 2 1 0 8 3 5 7 Mark Davis 3 0 3 0 6 6 0 3 Tian Pengfei 3 0 2 1 5 7 -2 2 Li Hang 3 0 2 1 4 7 -3 2
I didn’t see much of the action yesterday as life came in the way of snooker in the form of a sick kitten requiring a dash to the vet… but what I saw did annoy me a bit. Jamie Clarke has so much ability and so often ruins his own chances by making questionable shot choices. Ken Doherty was in the commentary box and reflecting on what he was seeing. He said that Jamie should watch his own matches, in the aftermath of the event, and listen to the commentary because he could learn from it. This wasn’t a smear at Jamie, but rather the thoughts of a very experienced professional and lover of his sport, in the autumn of his own career, watching a very talented young player not making the most his huge ability.
Today’s action involves a quality line-up. We have four players belonging to the top 8, two very talented youngsters, and two vastly experienced “veterans”, one only just out of the top 16 and the other one, a former World Champion who at 51, and 30+ years a pro, is shrewd as ever. This line-up was produced by an alleged “lottery” format … hum?