Stuart Bingham has won Group 2 of the 2023 BetVictor Championship League Snooker Invitational at the Morningside Arena, Leicester to wrap up snooker for 2022.
The group final saw Bingham up against Robert Milkins for a spot in the Winners’ Group after the pair had beaten Matthew Selt and Jordan Brown respectively in the group playoffs 3-2 to meet in what promised to be a tantalising match. Milkins got off to a flyer with a break of 95 but Bingham responded with a clearance of 139 to take the group high break to leave it at 1-1 in the best of five. In the following frame, Milkins made 31 before Bingham had his chance to lead for the first time with a break of 67.
It was an up-and-down day with the group standings difficult to call. Bingham had struggled on day one but found a groove with 3-1 wins over Brown and Barry Hawkins enough to see him through on three points. Milkins meanwhile had a joyous start to the second day of play thanks to back-to-back wins against Ryan Day and Hawkins.
“I didn’t come here with a lot of confidence. I got lucky I think to stay in the first group. It didn’t look good this morning after losing to Matt 3-0. From there, sat in my chair I thought something has to change and something has to click. From there, I started to make century after century. Something has clicked. I am delighted to win Group 2. I didn’t know if I just needed to settle. The first few matches are so important. I got lucky last night against Ryan Day.”
“This is a great tournament in itself. It will give me a lot of confidence. I haven’t been at my best the last couple of months. To come here and product what I have the last few days does pick me up fo the rest of the season. I missed out on the Champion of Champions last year in the decider against John Higgins (last year’s Championship League Invitational final) – last year was the first one I missed. It hurt seeing it on TV. I am trying to pick my game up to win something and hopefully, it can be this.”
In the group stage, Hawkins suffered a quick exit with one win from six after defeat to Selt earlier in the day had sealed his fate before an evening meeting with Bingham. Day joined Hawkins in exiting after three defeats on day two after starting off well yesterday with two wins from three. Jamie Jones meanwhile will have another bite of the cherry in January after salvaging two wins against Selt and Milkins to ensure he wouldn’t suffer the same as Day and Hawkins.
Group 3 begins on Tuesday, 3 January with Mark Selby, Kyren Wilson, and Ricky Walden entering proceedings alongside, Selt, Brown, Jones, and X –
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 following evening’s 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 4 which begins on Thursday, 5 January 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.