Ricky Walden and Luca Brecel became the final names into the last day of the 2022 BetVictor Championship League Snooker at the Morningside Arena, Leicester live on FreeSports, DAZN, Viaplay, Matchroom.Live and networks worldwide.
Shaun Murphy took on Elliot Slessor in his opening match of the day having got through to second stage last week. The Magician took the first before Slessor hit back in the second to level at 1-1 before back to back century breaks from the former World Champion gave Murphy all three points.
Ricky Walden was the main man vying for top spot with Murphy but he was always up against it after a 2-2 draw with Anthony Hamilton despite leading by two frames to the good. The Walnut did go into the evening top of the group though thanks to three points against Slessor in a tight affair.
Murphy got his second match of the day underway with Hamilton with a contribution of 64 to lead 1-0. Hamilton did make 106 in the next to level before it was Murphy who hit the front and closed it out with 88 in the final frame.
Hamilton was straight back out after defeat to Murphy knowing three points over Slessor or a draw would give him third spot. He has admitted he is cueing more freely and Hamilton made 58 in the first, 50 in the second and 69 in the final to take finish on a positive note.
In the group decider, Walden took the early initiative with 64 in the first but Murphy edged the second 65-56 to level and be one away from the final day. Murphy made 62 in the third and needed one red to force Walden into needing snookers. One miss later and Walden was back in to turn the tide and get in to make it 2-1. Walden needed one more to take it. Walden in the end put in a huge winning break of 135 to win it.
“When I finished off, that’s the best frame I’ve played all day. It’s been a bit of a slog at times and I rode my luck at times. I got lucky at the end and put a good break together. I thought I was done. I was 5o odd down and I thought I had to go for something. I didn’t want to be driving home on the back of a safety shot. You get used to winning games. I didn’t play well today but luck has been with me.”
“The next one I win will be the best one I’ve won from where I’ve come from.” – Walden on if he took home the title tomorrow.
Brecel started the day out against amateur Daniel Wells in a 2-2 draw live on YouTube. Wells had taken the opener with a break of 63 before Brecel hit back with 39 and 30 in the second before 85 in the third put him 2-1 in front. In the end though, Wells took the last to share the spoils.
In the second contest of the day on Table 2, Chris Wakelin didn’t hang around as he dispatched Jamie Clarke 3-0. The man from Rugby edged the opening two before a break of 93 in the final frame wrapped up the first win of the day in Group B. Wells was proving tough to beat and he took a 2-1 lead over Wakelin but a crushing break of 108 gave him a point and onto four ahead of the evening session.
Brecel had his first taste of glory last season at the Scottish Open last year and he showed glimpses of that form as he beat Clarke 3-0 thanks to breaks of 91 and 45 in the last two frames. The Belgian bullet went from strength to strength to beat Wakelin by the same scoreline to top the group. Brecel had found his tough around the table and contributed with 114, 80, and 63 to top the group with seven points.
At the end of tomorrow, the winners of Group 1 and 2 respectively will meet in the 2022 BetVictor Championship League Snooker final in a Best of 5 to be crowned champion.
Group 2 headlines Table 1 tomorrow live on FreeSports, DAZN, Viaplay, and Matchroom.Live with Zhao Xintong, Luca Brecel, Xiao Guodong, and Lyu Haotian with Group 1 live on YouTube from midday with Stuart Bingham, Ricky Walden, Lu Ning, and Pang Junxu.