Champion Murphy aims to defend crown as Stage 1 draws to a close

Champion Murphy aims to defend crown as Stage 1 draws to a close

News June 27th, 2024

Defending BetVictor Championship League Snooker Ranking champion Shaun Murphy’s ambitions of regaining his title were given a major boost as the Magician finished top of  Group 3 on the final day of Stage 1. Wins over Steven Hallworth, Reanne Evans and Tian Pengfei confirmed the 2005 World Champion’s place in tomorrow action.

Murphy will be joined by 2022 winner Dave Gilbert who produced a magnificent 136 final frame to advance from Group 15 by virtue of the highest break.

Group 3

Shaun Murphy has never successfully defended one of his 12 ranking titles before. Heading into the WST season opener, the Magician’s eyes were fixed on retaining his trophy and he began in rampant style, dispatching Steven Hallworth 3-0 after contributions of 61, 100 and 93. 12-time Women’s World Champions Reanne Evans was next in line, falling 3-1 as Murphy flexed his might on Table 1 – live exclusively on

Just a point would have been enough to qualify but the Magician decided he would conjure up all three in the finale with Tian Pengfei, where breaks of 66, 75 and 72 saw him into tomorrow’s Stage 2 action.

“I’m really pleased, I didn’t know what to expect and really enjoyed the off season,” said a jubilant Murphy. “I was in North America last week visiting Canada and the States putting on shows there so I came into it feeling like my game was sharp enough, but you never really know until you get out there. But a bit like last season, I feel like I’ve started well.

“It would be lovely to tick off some more things in my career – defending a tournament would be one of those. The first job is done and we’ll see what the next stage brings.”

Hallworth bounced back from the opening defeat to beat both Pengfei and Evans, earning second place in the group.

Group 15

In one of the most bizarre groups in Championship League Snooker history, Group 15 – consisting of Dave Gilbert, Xu Si, Andrew Pagett and Duane Jones – proved to be the most competitive of the tournament so far.

Each of the matches finished in a 2-2 draw between all four men, meaning the group would ultimately be decided on the highest break of the day. Heading into the final fixture, that belonged to to Xu Si after he opened the day with a 131 against Pagett.

Si would ultimately be beaten though in the very final frame of the night, where 2022 BetVictor Championship League Snooker Ranking winner Dave Gilbert delivered a brilliant 136 and progress into the next round.

The Championship League is the first ranking event of the new season and was won last year by Shaun Murphy. The opening tournament of the season runs until July 3rd. In the first phase, 128 players are split into 32 groups of four, with those 32 group winners going through to the next round.

The tournament takes place over three stages, starting on Monday, 10 June. Winners’ Week will run from Friday 28, June concluding with Finals Day on Wednesday, 3 July. The eventual winner will also receive an invite into the 2023 Champion of Champions this November 11 to November 17 alongside the £20,000 first-place prize.

Stage 2 begins on Friday 28th June with Murphy back in action in Group C, joining Hossein Vafaei, Long Zehuang and Jamie Jones. Gilbert enters Group B alongside Stuart Bingham, He Guoqiang and Ashley Carty.

For details on how to watch, click here.

(Photo by Zheng Zhai)

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