John Astley and Hongyu Liu secured the final two spots up for grabs at Winners’ Week of the BetVictor Championship League Snooker – Ranking Edition at the Morningside Arena, Leicester live on Viaplay Xtra in the UK, and broadcasters worldwide including Viaplay in Scandinavia, the Baltics, Poland, and the Netherlands and Table 2 live on Matchroom.Live globally.
Astley, starting his 7th season as a professional, opened his 2023/24 account with a solid 3-1 win over Thailand’s Mink Nutcharut including breaks of 128 and 79.
A hard fought 2-2 draw was to follow against Hai Long Ma – starting his career as a snooker professional, a break of 58 helping the Gateshead pro secure a crucial point in group 9.
Ma, failing to secure more than a point against Mink in his last match, meant that the North-East clash between Astley and Gary Wilson would decide the group. Wilson, needing the win, struggled to get going and was visibly frustrated at the action that was unfolding.
Astley, ranked 83rd in the world, and needing just a point against the Scottish Open champion, held his nerve to win the opening two frames to secure his place in next week’s winners’ group.
Liu, embarking on his debut season as a snooker professional, opened his campaign with a superb 3-1 against seasoned pro Ricky Walden, winning the final three frames in a row including a break of 75.
The 19-year old from China then faced off against former World Seniors Champion David Lilley. Despite the vast gap in experience, Liu rallied on to claim a 3-0 whitewash victory against Lilley including a break of 76, putting him in firm control of the group.
Liu’s final match was to be against compatriot Yisong Peng who was struggling at the bottom of group 14. The younger of the two completed a fantastic first day on the job with a 3-1 win over Peng, dropping just two frames across his three matches played.
BetVictor Championship League Snooker returns on Monday, 17th July with stage two. The Warrior Kyren Wilson headlines Group E on table one, with three-time world champion Mark Williams headlines Group F on table two.
Watch BetVictor Championship League Snooker – Ranking Edition on Viaplay Xtra – FreeView in the UK and Ireland. Those in Scandinavia, the Baltics, Netherlands, and Poland can watch live on Viaplay whilst Matchroom.Live is available to those without a broadcaster. See where to watch here.
The BetVictor Championship League Snooker – Ranking Edition carries a first prize of £33,000 and the winner also securing a spot in the 2023 Champion of Champions set to take place in Bolton from November 13-19 live on ITV.