Ranking July 6th, 2023

Jak Jones, who enjoyed a memorable run to the World Championship quarter-finals on his Crucible debut in April, made a fine start to the new season by reaching the second stage of the BetVictor Championship League ranking edition in Leicester on Wednesday.

Jones was left needing to beat his namesake and fellow Welshman Jamie Jones in the final match or better his run of 109 in the event of a draw, with the highest break in the group used to determine places if everything else is tied.

Jamie Jones looked set to take a 2-1 lead but missed a red on 64 in the third and Jak Jones eventually stole it before adding a scrappy fourth to prevail 3-1.

World no.37 Jones, who beat Ali Carter and Neil Robertson in reaching the last eight at the Crucible, therefore advances to the last 32 of the first ranking event of the new campaign.

“I feel relieved,” he said. “I won a big third frame, pinched it off him, which gave me a boost going into the last frame. It was a bit strange because it felt like a decider even though I was 2-1 up, but I was just pleased to win.

“If he had gone 2-1 up I’d have had to beat his break in the last frame. That’s what I was prepared for until he missed the red in the middle.

“What happened at the World Championship gave me a boost, some confidence and belief coming into the new season. I wanted to make sure I started this season as well as possible to make the most of what happened in Sheffield.”

Zhou Yuelong, who starts the season 27th in the world rankings, won a dramatic Group 17 with a 3-0 victory over Ashley Hugill in the last match.

After the first four matches, all four players were tied on three points. Chris Totten, a Scottish amateur and late call-up following a withdrawal last week, was set to beat Oliver Brown 3-0 in match five to put himself in pole position but went in-off the last brown and the contest ended up tied at 2-2.

That left Brown in first place in the group and relying on a draw between Zhou and Hugill to finish top, but Zhou’s victory ensured the former World Cup winner from China advanced to phase two.

The BetVictor Championship League Snooker – Ranking Edition carries a first prize of £33,000. Ali Carter, Robert Milkins and World Championship semi-finalist Si Jiahui enter the fray in the coming days while former world champions Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy are all due to play next week, with the event concluding on July 21.

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