Zhao Xintong and Anthony Hamilton progressed to Winners’ Week after the second day of play at the 2022 BetVictor Championship League Snooker at the Morningside Arena, Leicester live on Matchroom.Live and networks worldwide.
Zhao started the day off in a rampant fashion as he punished Michael Holt in a 3-1 win which saw the current UK Championship titleholder rattle in his first century of the season to seal all three points (105). The Cyclone spoke of his hopes of reaching the magic World No.1 spot in his post-group interview and he did those hopes no harm dispatching Adam Duffy inside 45 minutes with another 105 along the way for good measure.
Hammad Miah was the only man that stood in Zhao’s way of reaching the next stage as the World No. 90 battled to a draw with Duffy before taking all three points off Holt with a tidy break of 57 in the opening frame to set up a group decider with Zhao to end the evening. Duffy and Holt meanwhile were left to battle for position in the group and prize money and it was the latter who took advantage. Holt, who fell off the tour at the end of last season, was cueing well and he took the first frame before Duffy came back in at 1-1. From there, Holt found a rhythm in the third frame with a break of 72 to be one away before a tight final frame went in the former Shoot Out winner’s favour to seal third place.
Zhao headed into the decider with Miah knowing a point would do it and he set about it in his typical offensive way to win the first with breaks of 56 and 18 before taking the second to do the damage needed and progress to Winners’ Group. The final frame was a non affair for both players as Zhao secured a clean sweep dropping only one frame along the way.
“This is the first match for me. I don’t want to think. too much. I just want to enjoy my matches. I had good food with my friend and I went to the shopping mall. I just want to enjoy it. I want to be better than last year. I want to do my best. In the future, I will try my best to win the matches and the tournament. It sounds good. (becoming World No.1 one day) Hopefully, I can do it.” – Zhao speaking to Phil Yates after sealing Group 4 win.
The picture in Group 31 on Table 2 was far less clear than that on Table 1. Noppon Saengkham led the charge but Anthony Hamilton celebrating his 51st birthday would have something to say about that along with Ashley Hugill and Steven Hallworth.
Saengkham started off brightly with a 3-0 win over Hallworth who came into the tournament as a top up after losing his tour card last season. The Thai cueist was held up against Hugill at the top of the evening action as the match went the distance as he ground out his second win of the day for 3-1 and a high break of 90. Hamilton meanwhile had to settle for a point against Hugill before whitewashing Hallworth meaning only a win against Saengkham would keep his tournament hopes alive.
Hallworth and Hugill were out the picture thanks to two losses and two draws respectively for the pair as they met in the penultimate contest of the day. It was a familiar story for Hugill who found himself in another draw whilst Hallworth claimed his first point of the day and was on 147 watch in the last frame only to fall short at 98 but enough to ensure at least one point in the group but not enough to avoid the wooden spoon.
Hamilton came out the blocks quickly against Saengkham with a classy clearance of 130 from the previous German Masters winner to lead 1-0 and know he was on his way towards Winners’ Week. Saengkham needing just the point got his first on the board in the second but Hamilton was in no mood to see his birthday ruined with a formidable clearance in the last of 114 to seal a win and his spot in the next stage.
2022 BetVictor Championship League Snooker continues tomorrow with previous winner Kyren Wilson in action on Table 1 in Group 6 live on FreeSports and Matchroom.Live in the UK and networks worldwide with Zhang Anda, Michael Judge, and Luke Simmonds whilst Tom Ford leads Group 26 with Chris Wakelin, Ian Burns and Anton Kazakov live on the Matchroom Multi Sport YouTube for free. See where to watch here.