John Higgins has won Group 5 of the BetVictor Championship League Snooker Invitational beating Matthew Selt in the group final at the Morningside Arena, Leicester to progress to Winners’ Group in a 3-1 win.
Selt’s early form on day one saw him unbeaten going into day two but back-to-back defeats left his hopes of making the evening playoffs in need of serious work. The former Indian Open champion has been in all five groups so far and he dug in to beat Neil Robertson at the top of the evening session to ensure another playoff berth.
Higgins meanwhile had a mixed bag on day one but came out firing on day two with an early 3-1 win over Selt to put him in the picture for a playoff spot. Despite that win, due to other results Higgins had to beat Robert Milkins to ensure his playoff spot. Milkins will return in Group 6 tomorrow after a fifth-place finish. David Gilbert and Noppon Saengkham both struggled for form as they exited after one group.
In the evening playoffs, Higgins made lightwork of Xiao Guodong in a 3-0 win despite a re-rack in the second frame. The Wizard of Wishaw showed his class to deliver his best showing of the day so far with breaks of 135, 83, and 75.
Robertson entertained against Selt in a high-quality affair in the other semi-final that saw the former steal the opener by eight. Selt responded with a brilliant 133 in the second and 85 in the third to lead 2-1 and be one away. The fourth frame was a humdinger as Robertson eventually settled it to force a decider. In the end, Selt prevailed in a scrappy final frame to meet Higgins in the group final.
Higgins, who won the ranking event version of the tournament last summer took the opener in the group final with a classy 67 to edge out Selt. In the second, Selt came back but from there Higgins ensured his spot in an event he has won on three occasions.
Speaking to Phil Yates, Higgins said: “I am pleased to get through. I thought I was lucky to get in the semi-finals if the results went the other way. It goes to show how you start the group but how you finish it. I’ve had a decent record here. It’s good to get through it. I am pleased to be in Winners’ Group. It gives me another chance. It’d be good to get another title!”
BetVictor Championship League Snooker Invitational sees each of the seven players face each other once in the round-robin group stage, after which the top four players in the league table progress to the group play-offs. The eventual group champion advances to February’s Winners’ Group with the remaining players who finished in the top five during the league phase continuing to Group Seven which begins on 27, February when three new players join the tournament. The bottom two players in each group phase are eliminated. All matches are best of five.
The tournament carries a prize fund of £205,000 with players earning £100 per frame won with significant bonuses for their final group position and increased prize money in the Winners’ Group. A place in the 2023 Champion of Champions is also on the line with each group featuring seven players with matches being held over two days.
Action continues tomorrow from 11 am with Group 6 where Joe Perry, Anthony McGill, and Zhou Yuelong enter proceedings.