The two groups yesterday couldn’t be more different.
In group 15, every player had at least one win, with Ricky topping it with two wins. It couldn’t have been closer.
Xiao completely dominated group 32. The only other player involved in that group who managed to win a game was Rod Lawler.
Walden And Xiao Top Groups
Ricky Walden and Xiao Guodong booked their places in winners’ week of BetVictor Championship League Snooker, topping Groups 15 and 32 respectively at the Morningside Arena in Leicester
Walden opened his campaign as top seed in the group with a 3-1 victory over Andy Lee which included breaks of 71 and 60, before earning a hard fought 2-2 draw against Gerard Greene in his second match.
Young Welsh star Jackson Page was the last remaining threat to Walden’s group-topping ambitions. He could have usurped the world number 18 with victory in their deciding match. There was to be no upset however, as Walden took the two frames required to secure his place in the next stage, a clearance of 106 in the second frame was his highest break of the group as he went on to win 3-1 and remain unbeaten.
Walden said: “I played well today, your first games since last season are always tricky coming back, so I’m delighted to get through.
“I’ve not picked the cue up other than a few exhibitions, so this is the perfect event to come back and get some of that rust off.
“The game against Gerard was a tough one, I think we’d both admit we didn’t play our best, but I knew if I lost it, I was done for the day. I said to myself that if I stick in there and get a draw you never know, in the end it turned out I didn’t need a win in my last game.
“Now I’m in the winners’ group it’s great, it’s only going to set me up for a better season, if I can get to the back end of tournaments like last season then I’m going to be in a strong position.”
Xiao Guodong followed the same route as Jamie Jones yesterday, in securing his place in winners’ week with a game to spare following a pair of 3-1 victories against Rod Lawler and Mink Nutcharut.
The world number 38 saw his highest break of the day (112) coming against the reigning women’s world snooker champion Mink, who impressed on her debut outing as a professional on the World Snooker Tour, picking up her only point of the group against Scott Donaldson in her first match of the season.
A draw in the Donaldson vs Rod Lawler match meant Xiao’s final match against the Scot was simply a formality. A 3-1 victory over the former Championship League Snooker Invitational Event winner sealed a perfect win record for Xiao in Group 32 which saw the Chinese player drop just three frames all day.
This is the table:
Mink played well against Scott Donaldson who, very sportingly, applauded and congratulated her at the end of the match. Her strengths – tactical nous, determination, patience and accurate potting and positioning – showed in this match. Her weaknesses unfortunately showed as well: mainly she totally lacks power, and when forced to play with power, she loses her accuracy. Of course, she is petite, but power not mainly a matter of physical strength, is also – and maybe mainly – a matter of “timing” and that can be worked on. She will need to improve on that to stand any chance on the main tour.