The top seeds, Judd Trump and Mark Allen, won their respective group yesterday. It was the last day of the first stage of the tourmanent.
Trump And Allen Progress
Judd Trump and Mark Allen were the final two players to secure their places in the second stage of BetVictor Championship League Snooker at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.
Trump was made to work hard in his opening 3-1 win over Rod Lawler, with the pick of the frames coming in the first where a break of 64 gave him an early advantage.
The World Number One never really moved out of second gear as he overcame Lee Walker 3-1, with a break of 81 in the last. Two wins from two put Trump top of Group One by two points after Anthony Hamilton had won and drawn his opening two games against Walker and Lawler respectively.
This led to a final match winner takes all with Hamilton to finish the day on table one. Hamilton knew a win was needed, whilst a draw would take Trump through by two points.
Trump took the opener with breaks of 30 and 41, before Hamilton pegged him back to 1-1. It was at this point, the Ace in the Pack found his magic touch with breaks of 92 and 84 to seal three wins from three.
Allen’s journey to the next stage started off in the best possible way, as he dispatched Daniel Womersley 3-0 with breaks of 137, 103, and 94.
The Northern Irishman was made to battle against Mitchell Mann, as he salvaged a draw in the last frame with a clearance of 124. That draw proved to be pivotal to the rest of the day. Mann had also started his day off with a 3-0 rout against Chris Wakelin, meaning by the end of the afternoon session Allen, and Mann were level on points and frame difference.
Allen piled the pressure onto Mann in his last match as he beat Wakelin 3-0 for his second whitewashing of the day. That win took him to a frame difference of +6, meaning Mann would have to win 3-0 in his last game and topple Allen’s high break of 137.
It looked to be going close after Mann took the opening two frames off Womersley with a break of 86 in the second frame. That did leave Mann with pressure to make 137 in the third but he fell away with efforts of 32 and 23. Womersley proceeded to pinch a point from Mann and secure Allen’s route to stage two.
Stage Two action begins on Monday with Ronnie O’Sullivan headlining on Table 1 in Group H with David Gilbert, Craig Steadman, and Chang Bingyu. Meanwhile, Table 2 is Group G with Masters Champion Yan Bingtao, Barry Hawkins, Matthew Selt, and Cao Yupeng.
By Friday, only eight players will remain and only one will be crowned the winner of the BetVictor Championship League Snooker.
After a disappointing World Championship, Mark Allen had announced that he wanted to take a break from snooker, but it seems to me that he has actually been practicing seriously. He played very well yesterday, probably the best we have seen so far in this event.
Judd Trump on the other hand was far from his best and lucky to be in a relatively weak group. All his opponents were veterans who are no more as good as they once were, rarely capable of finishing frames in one visit. Rod Lawler has been struggling badly for years now. Lee Walker has recently suffered from back problems and sciatica, which is extremely painful. Anthony Hamilton had an eye surgery that didn’t yield the results he hoped for and now struggles badly under the TV lights. Despite this they all managed to take a frame off Judd.
Here is how Stage 2 looks like:
Don’t ask me why the schedule doesn’t for last two groups …
Group H is a very strong group with Ronnie and David Gilbert favourites on paper. Chang Bingyu however is an excellent young player and he shouldn’t be taken lightly. Craig Steadman on form is very reliable and scores heavily. Whoever wins this group it will be no “shock”.
If anything Group G is even stronger. Yan Bingtao and Barry Hawkins are the “big names” in there and Yan in particular looked very solid in stage 1. However Cao Yupeng may well be the strongest man in this field; he was impressive in the previous stage and it was obvious that he had pepared very well for his return to the main tour. He is hungry and determined to redeem himself after his suspension. Matt Selt is never to be discounted.
Group E is yet another strong group with Shaun Murphy and Ali Carter the two favourites. Greame Dott is an under-rated player who rarely gets the credit he deserves. He’s usually better in longer formats – he prefers long formats – but he won his group. He’s also a very determined player and when he enters “terrier” mode … nobody wants to face him.
Stuart Bingham has to be the favourite in Group F. However everyone of the other three is capable to spoil his party. Ryan Day played very well, Ashley Hugill new attacking attitude got him at the top of his stage 1 group and Alex Ursenbacker has always been good on his day but he now has added consistency as well.
Group D is the first group with a clear favourite: Kyren Wilson. Ken Doherty though could be a dark horse here.
Group C is probably the most interesting one. One could make a case for all four players involved. David Lilley is the reigning Seniors World Champion and he played with a lot of freedom in stage 1. Noppon Saengkham is very hungry and has been working hard after the disappointment to miss the World Championship because of covid-19. Dark Mavis is still extremely solid on his day. Bai Langning remarkably managed to reach Judgement Day last April, after being stuck in China for the whole season.
In can’t see past Judd Trump in Group A. This Group is played on the last day of the second stage which means that Judd has a few days to better prepare. He looked rusty yesterday but I would be surprised if that’s still the case by the end of next week.
If Mark Allen scores as heavily as he did yesterday, there is only one winner in Group B. That said Ricky Walden is also a big scorer when on form, Fergal O’Brien is capable of derailing anyone by breaking their rhythm, and Peter Lines, fresh from regaining his tour card was impressive in stage 1.