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 Cao Yupeng.
With all three of the afternoon matches ending in two all draws, it left the evening wide open with all players within a shout of moving into the next stage.
Cao sent out the first warning signs with the first win of the group against Hawkins. The 3-1 victory underlined his ambitions for the season with a fantastic plant in the second frame.
That result led the rest of the group already chasing in his trail with Yan being in the main pursuit after beating Hawkins 3-1 meaning the Hawk was out and Yan top of the group with 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 whitewash over Selt to qualify for the last eight.
Group H started with Ronnie O’Sullivan’s withdrawal, who 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 dismantling Joyce.
The Angry 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’s place was confirmed after this with Steadman unable to catch Gilbert’s frame difference whatever his result against Chang.
Gilbert: “A great day, much better than the other day. 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 a couple of total 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, it is about winning still most importantly like the other day when I wasn’t that great.”
“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 Hugil.
BetVictor Championship League Snooker is live from 12 noon (UK time) on Monday and is live on FreeSports TV (UK), DAZN, Zhibo.tv (China), and Viaplay, with Table 2 live globally at Matchroom.Live. Full broadcast details can be found at https://championshipleaguesnooker.co.uk/watch/