Defending champion Kyren Wilson and Graeme Dott moved through to the next stage of BetVictor Championship League Snooker at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.
Wilson is the current holder of both the BetVictor Championship League Snooker ranking title and invitational and he wasn’t so keen on letting go of that just yet.
The Kettering man looked comfortable in his opener against Dylan Emery defeating him 3-1 in his only action of the afternoon. The heat was soon applied though with Sam Craigie stepping past both Ben Hancorn and Emery 3-0 each to sit at the top going into the evening action.
Wilson skirted a scare in his second match of the day against Hancorn after the 2020 English Amateur Champion took the opening frame and left the second frame with Wilson requiring two snookers.
What happened next indicated just why Wilson has the nickname of Warrior sealing the two snookers he required before stealing it after Hancorn fouled on the black. A point could’ve dashed the hopes of Wilson of defending his title, but he powered through from there on to defeat Hancorn 3-1.
Craigie knew a draw would see him through whilst Wilson knew it was a win it all costs in the final match between the pair. The experience of Wilson shone through in the end though as he convincingly took a 3-0 win to top the group. The highlight coming in the second where the shackles seemed to come off in a break of 47.
Wilson: “It was a bit of a struggle all day to be honest, the first tournament back. It’s been a long break since the World Championships. Just trying to blow away the cobwebs. Delighted to get through that one.”
“I don’t know why; I just quite enjoy the atmosphere of these tournaments. Matchroom does a wonderful job and feed us nicely. It’s just one of those, it’s a laid-back atmosphere, and enjoy the snooker really. We’re lucky to have these tournaments on.”
Dott’s passage to the second stage was a lot clear than Wilson after the Scotsman won both of his afternoon matches 3-1 against Si Jiahui and Iulian Boiko. It meant he was already three points clear ahead of the evening session on Table 2.
A 3-0 win for Si against Robbie Williams meant Dott maintained his three-point cushion going into his final game against Williams where only a point would be required to top the group.
The 2006 World Champion looked untroubled until his cue tip came off just before his final match against Williams. Emery stepped in though after hearing of Dott’s troubles to help fix up the Scotsman’s tip ahead of his final match.
Despite the incident, Dott swiftly moved into a 2-0 lead which secured top status in the group with Williams taking the resulting two frames meaning they shared a point apiece. The point being enough for Williams to take second in the group and £2,000.
Tomorrow sees Stuart Bingham enter as the top seed in Group 21 alongside Elliot Slessor, Yang Gao, and Michael White whilst current Shoot-Out champion Ryan Day is the main act in Group 22 with Hossein Vaefai, Jackson Page, and Barry Pinches.
Coverage of Table 1 begins at 12 noon (UK time) and is live on FreeSports (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/