Cao And Gilbert Into Final Stage
Cao Yupeng and David Gilbert booked their places in the final eight of BetVictor Championship League Snooker at the Morningside Arena, Leicester on day one of Stage Two.
Group G was hotly contested with plenty of winning pedigree in action; Yan Bingtao, Barry Hawkins, Matthew Selt, and China’s Cao.
With all three of the afternoon matches ending in 2-2 draws, it left the evening wide open with all players within a shout of moving into the next stage.
Cao sent out warning signs with the first win of the group against Hawkins; a 3-1 victory. Yan also beat Hawkins 3-1, and made the high break of the day (129).
Cao’s job was simple in his last match against Selt, a win would see him through by two points or a high break would settle things. The former Scottish Open finalist did just what was needed, securing a flawless 3-0 whitewash over Selt to qualify for the last eight.
Group H started with Ronnie O’Sullivan’s withdrawal, he was replaced with the runner-up from O’Sullivan’s Group 32 first stage, Mark Joyce.
Gilbert’s day was comprehensive not dropping a single frame, first with a 3-0 rout against Chang Bingyu that included a clearance of 131 in the opening frame. The good form continued for Gilbert against Craig Steadman, but this time setting the highest break of the tournament so far (143). He became only the second player to win all three games without dropping a frame by dismantling Joyce.
The Farmer’s passage to Finals’ Day was confirmed midway through the evening session after a draw between Chang and Joyce meant they were both out the mix.
Gilbert said: “It was a great day, much better than my first group. It’s nice to find a bit of form going into the last day, I’m obviously going to have to play well if I want to win it.
“In these short matches, you need to start well, and I managed to knock in a couple of big breaks in the first frames, they obviously settle you down. I do take pride in the way I play, sometimes I do get a bit down on myself.
“My name is in the hat for the last day, I see the trophy over there, I’d love to take it home. It’d be a great start to the season and obviously, the bonus of the Cazoo Champion of Champions place too.”
Cao and Gilbert will compete on Friday in Finals’ Day of the BetVictor Championship League Snooker.
Day Two from the second stage of BetVictor Championship League Snooker sees Shaun Murphy, Ali Carter, Graeme Dott, and Gerard Greene in action on Table 1, Group E. Table 2 will be Group F contested between Stuart Bingham, Ryan Day, Alexander Ursenbacher, and Ashley Hugill.
So far my preview has been reasonably correct.
With Ronnie withdrawal because of ill health, David Gilbert totally dominated Group H. I was glad to see Chang Bingyu coming second. The young lad got off to a bad start, and was 2-0 down against Mark Joyce, his long potting apparently forgotten somewhere in his room. But a couple of errors from Mark allowed Chang to settle and to salvage a draw. Beating someone of Steadman’s experience is a really encouraging sign at the start of this new season.
Chang was interviewed by WST
It’s a lovely interview and it’s really good to hear more from the young Chinese players.
I wrote that Cao Yupeng could well be the strongest man in Group G and so it proved to be. The key match in this group was Cao’s 3-1 win over Barry Hawkins. Barry had won the first frame with a break of 70, Cao replied with breaks of 72, 117 and 84.
Regarding rankings, we will see how WST handels the situation. What I expect is that, Ronnie having to withdraw because of ill health, will get the 3000 points for winning his group, but not the “minimum” 1000 points allocated for competing in stage 2. Mark Joyce should get the 2000 points he earned for coming second in his stage 1 group plus the “minimum” 1000 points for playing in stage 2.