News July 2nd, 2024

Three-time world champion Mark Williams and Welsh Open runner-up Martin O’Donnell advanced to Stage 3 at the BetVictor Championship League Ranking edition on Monday night at the Mattioli Arena, Leicester, with two more players set to complete the line-up from Tuesday’s action.

The pair will join Long Zehuang, Dave Gilbert, Ali Carter and Scott Donaldson in the final day of action, available to watch in the UK and Ireland on Matchroom.live.

Group D

It was a tense start in both group’s on Monday, with the first four matches in each being played to 2-2 draws. In the session opener, Mark Williams produced breaks of 90 and 87 in a tie with Stuart Carrington, before a 130 to help go two ahead of Ben Woollaston, only for the Leicester native to fight back.

Woollaston took the advantage in the group with a 3-1 win in the penultimate fixture, meaning Williams would have to win by three frames in the final group match to progress via frame difference. In pure Mark Williams style, the Welsh Potting Machine crafted a top break of 96 enroute to the 3-0 required and book passage to Wednesday’s decider.

Group H

Martin O’Donnell’s quest for a first career ranking title took a major boost as he topped Group H.

Following a similar trend of draws to Group D, O’Donnell would surrender a two-frame lead in his opener against Matthew Stevens. Brilliant breaks of 138 and 133 against World Championship runner-up Jake Jones contributed to another point taken in the second fixture as the table hung in the balance.

It came down to a crucial colours clearance in the finale frame against Ma Hailong that saw the Welsh Open finalist seize control for the first win in the group setting,

Similarly to Table 1, either Jones or Stevens would require a 3-0 victory to leapfrog O’Donnell in the group decider, but another 2-2 draw for the pair ensured the 38-year-old O’Donnell would return for a chance at glory on Wednesday.

The Championship League is the first ranking event of the new season and was won last year by Shaun Murphy. The opening tournament of the season runs until July 3rd. In the first phase, 128 players are split into 32 groups of four, with those 32 group winners going through to the next round.

The tournament takes place over three stages, starting on Monday, 10 June. Winners’ Week will run from Friday 28, June concluding with Finals Day on Wednesday, 3 July. The eventual winner will also receive an invite into the 2024 Champion of Champions this November 11 to November 17 alongside the £20,000 first-place prize.

Stage 2 culminates on Tuesday, 2nd July, with Welsh Open champion Gary Wilson taking on Ryan Day, Joe O’Connor and David Lilley live on Matchroom.live. Jackson Page, Robbie McGuigan, Alex Ursenbacher and Michael White fight for the final Stage 3 spot on Table 2.

For details on how to watch, click here.

(Photo by Zheng Zhai)

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