Both groups yesterday delivered an unexpected but fully deserving winner.
Lyu And Lu Reach Final Day
Lu Ning and Lyu Haotian won groups E & F respectively to move into the final day of the 2022 BetVictor Championship League Snooker in Leicester.
Lu came through a group of Mark Williams, Stephen Maguire, and Aaron Hill to book his spot in Friday’s final stage. Williams began the day with a rapid 3-0 win over Hill in one of the quickest matches of the tournament so far. He took just half an hour thanks to breaks of 76, 61 and 133.
Williams set the early pace with that win, but Lu responded by beating Maguire 3-1. Maguire got his own win to end the afternoon session, beating Hill 3-0 to keep the group wide open.
The picture became clear at the top of the evening session, as Lu moved up a gear against Williams. Breaks of 70, 61 and 94 gave him a 3-0 win and left him needing just a draw with Hill to go through. He did just that, sharing the frames to end 2-2 and progress.
Over on Table 2, Lyu battled with Hossein Vafaei, Jimmy Robertson, and Michael Judge to make his way into the next phase. Vafaei started with an impressive 3-0 defeat of Judge, firing in breaks of 117, 89, and 123.
Lyu came into the group as the third seed and battled to a 2-2 draw with Robertson in his opening match. The group was wide open going into the evening and Lyu made sure he would stay in the picture thanks to a 3-0 win over Vafaei.
That victory for Lyu meant he had the group in his hands, as he went head to head with Judge in the penultimate match of the group. Lyu took secured a 3-1 win to top the group.
No interview with either winner. They both played very well and, above all, stayed focussed from start to finish. Phil Yates suggested that the Chinese players doing well was to be expected as they didn’t go home and had more time for practice… I’m not sure if Lyu and Lu stayed in the UK all summer, but whatever they did, the UK based players certainly had every opportunity to practice just as much if they so wished.
Here is the table
As you can see, it’s “incomplete”: at this stage, second place earns the player ￡3000, third place ￡2000 and fourth place ￡1000. If someone from Matchroom reads this… you really need to improve your service. Yesterday, at the start of play, Matchroom.live wasn’t working, thoughout the event, there have been many mistakes and missing information in the tables. and this…
Both Mark Williams and Hossein Vafaei – the groups “leaders” – started impressively. Then both had a long break, their second match being scheduled in the evening, and I had the feeling that the “intensity” was gone.
The last match in Group E was speed snooker. Mark Williams in particular couldn’t wait to get out of there. I didn’t time it, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the last frame lasted less than 5 minutes. Cheeky Willo still “wasted” a few seconds pretending he wanted to play for snookers at the end of the last frame. To say that Maguire looked nonplussed is an understatement.
In Group F, the last match was to decide second and third places and it was contested very seriously. Hossein Vafaei is currently just outside the top 16, he’s 17th, provisionnaly 16th as, as it stands, he is set to overcome Anthony McGill. Jimmy Robertson is 25th. Both are provisionnaly inside the top 16 in the “end-of-season” projection having had a good season last term. Of course it’s very early days but, obviously, every pound will count for both of them this season, and the ￡1000 difference between second and third place mattered to both.
Today we have Group C with Stuart Bingham, Jordan Brown, Jamie Jones, and Ben Woollaston and Group H with David Gilbert, Robert Milkins, Xiao Guodong, Michael White.