Judd Trump has won group four of the BetVictor Championship League Snooker Invitational, beating John Higgins 3-1 in a high scoring final.
Trump comfortably booked his spot in the play-offs by winning four of his six group matches, most of his work done on day one with three superb wins.
His play-off match against Mark Selby proved to be an absorbing one, with both players scoring heavy in the opening two frames. Trump with the best clearance coming in the opener with a 122 break.
Selby looked to be taking control of the match in a tight fourth frame before playing a poor safety on the brown. Trump knocked it in before clearing up the colours to win it on the black.
In the decider a break of 50 proved enough for Trump to book his spot in the group final, setting up a mouth-watering clash against group high-flyer John Higgins.
Much like earlier in the group, Trump flew out the blocks against Higgins, scoring back-to-back centuries in the opening two frames. Amongst the balls in the third, Trump looked on course for a third consecutive century before breaking down on 53. Higgins showed his class in clearing up with a break of 77 to cut Trump’s lead to one.
The fourth and final frame saw luck work against Higgins and for Trump – Higgins unfortunate to see a red drop after potting a tricky pink before Trump pulled off a double plant that sent him on his way to a third century break (102) of the game, completing a 3-1 win over Higgins.
Speaking afterwards, Trump said: “I started well this week, I kind of knew I was through after day one which made it hard to approach my remaining group games with the same intensity. I gave people a few chances I probably shouldn’t have.
“I think it’s fair to say Mark let me off the hook in the semi final, he probably should’ve won 3-1. I got through it though and played really well in the final.
“It’s great practice especially before the Masters next week, there was some good snooker in there and I did feel really relaxed out there. I didn’t have any pressure on myself this week and really felt back to myself so hopefully it’s a good omen for 2023.
“That double plant I potted in the final frame, I’m becoming a bit well-known for these strange shots that I’m pulling off. Regardless, it’s always a privilege to play John Higgins in any final and I’m obviously delighted to be in the next stage of this event.”
BetVictor Championship League Snooker Invitational sees each of the seven players faces 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 Six which begins on February 7th 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.