Stuart Bingham beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 3-0 in the crucial match in Group C of the Matchroom.Live Championship League to book a place in the Tournament Finals.
Click here for Group Tables, Results and Fixtures and here for details of how to watch live.
O’Sullivan started the day by beating Harvey Chandler 3-0 and Sam Craigie 3-1, and at that point had won 15 of the 16 frames he had contested in the tournament, making four centuries and eight more breaks over 50.
Bingham, meanwhile, lost 3-1 to Craigie and beat Chandler 3-0, meaning that only a 3-0 win over O’Sullivan would guarantee top spot in the group. And that’s just what the Basildon cueman achieved as he beat his fellow Essex player for the first time since the 2015 World Championship.
A break of 71 gave Bingham the opening frame tonight, then in the second he came from 65-21 down to snatch it with an excellent 51 clearance. And a run of 75 in the third put Masters champion Bingham into Thursday’s concluding group.
“I knew I needed to win 3-0 to top the group,” said Bingham. “I took my chances. Who would have thought it after my first game between me and Sam? We were struggling to pot a ball between us. But I got it going when it mattered. I’m happy with the performance. I have three more games now on Thursday and I’ll have to play like that to have any chance.”
Joining him will be Ben Woollaston, who topped Group D thanks to another late turnaround. Leicester’s Woollaston lost his opening tie against Martin O’Donnell 3-1 but recovered in tremendous style by beating Tom Ford 3-0 with three consecutive centuries, 134, 101 and 127, scoring 375 points without reply.
That left him needing to win his third match against Liang Wenbo while hoping that, on the other table, O’Donnell would lose to Ford.
World number 38 Woollaston rose to the challenge by beating Liang 3-0 with a top run of 68. O’Donnell, meanwhile, lost his last two frames against Ford and his 3-1 defeat ended his hopes.
“It’s amazing,” said Woollaston. “I went into my last match thinking I would come second, so I was surprised when I came off that I was through. I went 2-0 up and knew that guaranteed me second. I thought about coming out just to look at the score but I didn’t because I didn’t want to know.
“After beating Tom I had a few messages because I’m not really known for lots of centuries, so it was quite funny to do that. Both tables have been perfect today, so if you played badly it was your own fault.”
Groups A and B will be played on Wednesday, with the two winners to make up Thursday’s final stage alongside Bingham and Woollaston.