John Higgins 3-0 Ding Junhui
70-20 (Higgins 65),72-54 (Higgins 66, Ding 56), 65-35
Noppon Saengkham 2-3 Ding Junhui
8-72 (Ding 67), 101-1 (Ding 85), 42-60, 94-19, 58-66
John Higgins 3-1 Stephen Maguire
50-74 (Higgins 50, Maguire 74), 47-35, 60-16, 65-0 (Higgins 65)
John Higgins is on course for his third consecutive Championship League win as he cut a swathe through Group Seven, beating Ding Junhui in the final, to reach the all-winners final which plays out on Wednesday and Thursday.
Entering the competition at the last stage, Higgins performance over the two days of Group Seven was nothing short of remarkable as he extracted maximum financial gain. Having won all six group matches for £1,800, he won the group for £4,800 and also took the £500 high break prize (130 v Michael White) to cap his earnings at £7,100.
The veteran Scotsman did the same thing in 2016 and ’17 and both times went on to win the event. He also equalled his own record, set in 2014 of conceding only two frames in the group stage. Ding, on the other hand, completed his 500th century, a 121 against Tom Ford just two days after Ronnie O’Sullivan completed his 1,000th.
Commented Higgins, “I hope it’s an omen but looking at the winners’ group, it’s a really, really tough group. It’s great to get through though and I’ll be doing my best over the next couple of days. I’ve not had a great season so hopefully I can play my way into form over the next couple of months.”
Higgins returns tomorrow (Wednesday 13th) where he will join a very strong all-winners group that features Stuart Bingham, Neil Robertson, Jack Lisowski, Mark Selby, Martin Gould and Judd Trump.
Championship League Snooker is a venture between Matchroom Sport and Perform where 25 of the game’s elite players compete with matches on a host of betting websites and on zhibo.tv, one of the biggest sports streaming platforms in China.
Each group features seven players with each man playing the other six once in a round-robin basis. Every match is the best of five and the winner gains one point with the loser getting zero.
At the end of the league phase the top four advances to that group’s semi-finals before the two winners meet in the final and the group champion advances to the Winners’ Group in March. The losing finalist, two losing semi-finalists and player finishing fifth move into the next group where they are joined by three new players and the process is repeated.