Robert Milkins and Noppon Saengkham moved through to the final eight of the BetVictor Championship League Snooker – Ranking Edition at the Morningside Arena, Leicester live on Viaplay Xtra in the UK, Viaplay in Scandinavia, the Baltics, Netherlands, and Poland and broadcasters worldwide.
Milkins headed into Winners’ Week looking to replicate what he achieved earlier this year when he claimed the BetVictor Series bonus for the 2022/23 campaign and as the 2023/24 season continued to gather ahead of steam it was Pang Junxu, John Astley, and World Championship semi-finalist Si Jiahui who stood in his way of a spot in Friday’s final day.
Early on, Milkins found his groove to claim all three points over Astley 3-0 before a two-all draw with Si left the BetVictor Welsh Open champion on four points with Si’s win over compatriot Pang the other result from the afternoon session keeping the group wide open heading into the evening session.
Pang and Astley took a point each from their encounter to mathematically leave both players out of the picture but the former still could have some say on how things would pan out. Astley’s 3-1 win over Si meant the Gateshead cueist wouldn’t be taking the wooden spoon and it left Si pinning his hopes on a Pang win that could see him head through.
In the final encounter, Milkins took to task on ensuring it would be him progressing knowing only one frame would take him through and he delivered in the opener with a break of 60 for a 1-0 lead that was soon stretched to 2-0. Pang did battle back to take the final two frames for a draw but for Milkins it was already job done.
Milkins said: “It’s crazy when you go into the last match needing only one frame. It’s the best position but in a funny way you are trying to hold on but lucky for me, the first frame was the best I played in the match. I felt in patches, when I needed to I felt a lot sharper. I will need to be even sharper in the next phase. I felt 100 times better than I did in the opening stage. I could win another ranking event, it’s mad, isn’t it? I will have to improve a lot though.”
In Group C, Noppon Saengkham headlined with Ashley Carty, Daniel Wells, and Liu Hongyu all battling it out for their spot in Friday’s final action of the opening ranking event on the calendar. Saengkham downed tour debutant Liu 3-0 before Carty got the better of Wells 3-1 to leave it tight at the top after Saengkham and Wells played out a draw to complete the afternoon action.
Liu’s opening loss didn’t deter the teenager who bounced back with three points against Carty and a point against Wells to ensure at least third spot in the group. Those results left the picture quite clear going into the final match of the session with Saengkham requiring a point against Carty whilst the latter needed all three to progress to the next stage.
Saengkham calmly moved his way through the gears to edge the opener by nine points before a more confident display in the second frame saw the Thai star press home a 2-0 advantage, which was enough to top the group. Carty took the third but Saengkham ensured it was job complete with the final frame to seal a 3-1 win with a break of 76 to round things off.
Tomorrow sees Shaun Murphy, David Gilbert, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, and James Cahill battle it out on Table 1 live on Viaplay Xtra in the UK, whilst Zhou Yuelong, Xiao Guodong, Ben Woollaston, and Michael Holt will all be looking to progress out of Group A live on the Matchroom Multi Sport YouTube and Matchroom.Live.
Watch BetVictor Championship League Snooker – Ranking Edition on Viaplay Xtra – FreeView in the UK and Ireland. Those in Scandinavia, the Baltics, Netherlands, and Poland can watch live on Viaplay whilst Matchroom.Live is available to those without a broadcaster. See where to watch here.
The BetVictor Championship League Snooker – Ranking Edition carries a first prize of £33,000 and the winner also secures a spot in the 2023 Champion of Champions set to take place in Bolton from November 13-19 live on ITV.