Day 3 at the first ranking event of this season yielded some surprises.
With Kyren Wilson in action in Group 6, most fans probably expected him to dominate this group. Not so. Instead it was Michael Judge, the 2019 Seniors UK Champion, who booked his place into the final week. Group 26 featured three seasoned professionals and Anton Kazakov, a 17 years old rookie from Ukraine. Against all expectations, it was Anton who won the first match of the day, against the highest ranked player in the group, Tom Ford.
Judge Rules In Leicester
Michael Judge and Chris Wakelin clinched places in Winners’ Week of the 2022 BetVictor Championship League in Leicester.
Judge was up against Kyren Wilson, Zhang Anda and Luke Simmonds in group six, which was a tightly contested affair. The first three fixtures all ended in 2-2 draws.
The evening action continued in the same manner after Wilson and Judge shared the spoils, the tie ended in a 2-2 draw after Wilson squandered a 2-0 lead. That result left all four players on two points.
Irishman Judge then crucially sealed the first win of the day, a 3-1 victory, to move top of the table with what proved to be the only win of the day.
Wilson needed to beat Zhang in the final game of the day, but he failed to convert a 2-1 lead and ended level at 2-2. That result saw Judge secure his progression.
Judge said: “I felt I played quite well in patches and I am already a lot better than last year. I have been practising hard. I’ve put in a lot of hard work and I have even been swimming. I am going to give this year a proper go and show that I can still play this game like I used to. It was like coming back to a new tour. The game changed when I fell off.”
Wakelin had a much clearer path to victory in group 26, where he finished ahead of Tom Ford, Ian Burns and Anton Kazakov. In a group of Tom Ford, Ian Burns, and debutant Anton Kazakov. Morning victories against Burns and Kazakov put Wakelin into the ascendancy early on.
Ford and Burns finished 2-2 after a brilliant 131 from Burns had put him 2-0 ahead. That was short lived when Ford claimed the last two frames to end 2-2. The remaining results went Wakelin’s way and he secured his place in the next phase.
2022 BetVictor Championship League Snooker continues tomorrow with Luca Brecel in action on Table 1 in Group 10 live on FreeSports and Matchroom.Live in the UK and networks worldwide with Zhao Jianbo, Robbie Williams, and Oliver Brown whilst Lu Ning leads Group 29 with John Astley, Oliver Lines, and Chen Zifan live on the Matchroom Multi Sport YouTube for free. See where to watch here.
This is the above linked table
Despite winning the first match in Group 26, Anton eventually came last and will get nothing for his efforts. It’s very rare that a player winning a match comes last in a group but it happened yesterday and I feel something isn’t quite right here.
Barry Hearn’s motto has always been that you need to win a match to earn money and ranking points. Yesterday, in Group 6, only Michael Judge actually won a match, yet Kyren Wilson got £2000 and Zhang Anda got £1000. The day before, Ashley Hugill also earned £1000 without winning a match. Yet, Anton, who did win a match – his first as a professional actually – got nothing. As I wrote above, it doesn’t feel right.
I believe there is a case here to, maybe, “disconnect” money from ranking points in this format. Maybe something like this: win a match you get £1000 and 3 points, draw you get £200 and 1 point and so does your opponent, lose you get nothing. That would reward winning, whilst keeping the “order of merit” as it is now.