Wenbo Liang is the first player through to Winners’ Group of the BetVictor Championship League Snooker Invitational after the completion of Group 1 at the Morningside Arena, Leicester.
Liang overcame Jack Lisowski in the Group Final 3-1 to move safely through a group that also contained Graeme Dott, Zhou Yuelong, Ryan Day, Gary Wilson, and Tom Ford.
It was heartache for the 2006 World Champion Dott who had won all six group games following up from yesterday’s four wins with a further two against Day and Liang respectively to top the group and set up a group playoff semi-final against Lisowski. The Scotsman’s fortunes didn’t seem to roll around into the knockout phase though after finding himself stretching to make a black early in the first frame, a re-rack was called but it was Lisowski who benefitted to take the opener before the pick of the bunch from the Jackpot was a break of 65 in the second frame on his way to the group final.
Liang meanwhile had all but secured his playoff spot earlier on in the day beating Wilson for his third and final group point to finish second and set up a tie with Day for a spot in the evening final. The former English Open champion went about his business quietly until the playoffs where he turned the screw against Day with a classy break of 101 in the second frame and a winning 54 in the final frame to seal a 3-2 win.
When it came to the final, it was Liang who was in no mood for hanging around with a break of 91 in the first and 90 in the second to move one away against Lisowski. It was a heavy scoring affair as Lisowski hit back in the third frame with a clinical break of 73 to pull one back. Liang was soon back to complete the job in the final frame though with the joint highest break of the group (136) to go into Winners’ Group.
Liang said: “I think the seven players were very good. I played okay today but I think in the semi-final I nearly lost but maybe with that win I found some confidence. Jack is a good friend and I played well in the final. I just had to concentrate. I think I had to show my style and play my game. I wanted to concentrate and take my chance where I could. Just give me that one chance.”
“I haven’t done well in the last two or three years, maybe I haven’t felt confident. I have been working hard. Seeing Zhao Xintong and Yan Bingtao winning it perhaps woke me up.”
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 2022 Cazoo Champion of Champions is also on the line with each group featuring seven players with matches being held over two days.
Day and Zhou are eliminated by finishing 6th and 7th respectively whilst Wilson, Day, Dott, and Lisowski all return in Group 2 action tomorrow with Xiao Guodong, Joe Perry, and Lu Ning entering proceedings. Action gets underway from 11 am UK time. See the full match schedule here.
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