Shaun Murphy and Xiao Guodong have made 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.
After progression last week into Stage 2, Murphy faced one of the trickiest groups on paper to progress from with former winner David Gilbert, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, and James Cahill all having something to say about who would make it into the final day.
Murphy started out strongly with a 3-1 win over Cahill thanks to breaks of 79, 64, and 51 and followed that up with 84 and 65 along the way to a 3-0 dispatch of Un-Nooh to sit in pole position going into the evening session after Gilbert could only take a point off Un-Nooh. Gilbert started the evening off with a 3-0 win over Cahill before Un-Nooh and Cahill squared off at two all.
It meant the final match of the session would have it all on the line with Murphy taking on Gilbert and the former only needing the draw whilst only a victory would do for the Angry Farmer. Murphy took the opener but Gilbert rattled in back-to-back centuries to leave it to a final frame shootout for a spot in Friday’s Group 1 alongside Chris Wakelin and Robert Milkins. Murphy got to the table after Gilbert left a red in shooting range and from there a break of 71 settled things up to see the Magician progress.
Murphy said: “I am delighted. It’s the overriding feeling. I’ve had a busy few days since being here last week. I didn’t know what to expect but quietly I was pleased with today’s work. My friend Robbie and I went out for a coffee and we came back to the news there were four centuries on the bounce on that table then David’s had two against me. You’re thinking I’ve played well here but I am going to finish second. I held it together in the last frame and I am looking forward to Friday.”
Group A live on Matchroom.Live and the Matchroom Multi Sport YouTube channel saw Zhou Yuelong, Xiao Guodong, Ben Woollaston, and Michael Holt take to battle with one of the most bizarre groups in the tournament’s history set to play out. In the ranking edition of the tournament, groups are decided on the most points first of all before net frame difference and head-to-head records but after the three afternoon matches, the table was decided on the next criteria point of highest break after Zhou drew with Holt and Woollaston whilst the latter also shared the spoils with Xiao.
The pattern continued into the evening session with Holt dropping a 2-0 lead to Xiao to leave things all tied up and Zhou top by virtue of a high break of 114 to Xiao’s 109 and Holt’s 91. Holt did notch up the first win of the day though with three points over Woollaston 3-0 with a fitting display for the Hitman who had played so well all day but without any fruits for his labour. Holt’s win left the picture clear for Xiao and Zhou with either needing a 3-0 win to secure the group with any other result seeing Holt’s passage to the final day secured.
Xiao took the opening frame with 66 against Zhoiu and followed up with the second in quick succession leaving only one more for the two-time ranking event finalist. A final break of 90 sealed Xiao’s passage and meant he would progress on the virtue of a 109 break that took him through over Holt.
Tomorrow sees Judd Trump, Joe Perry, Cao Yupeng and Matthew Stevens battle it out in Group B on Table 1 live on Viaplay Xtra in the UK, whilst Jak Jones, Zehuang Long, Sam Craigie and Michael White will all be looking to progress out of Group G 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.