Shaun Murphy and Xiao Guodong have made the final eight of the BetVictor Championship League Snooker – Ranking Edition at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.
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After progression last week into Stage Two, Murphy faced one of the trickiest groups on paper to progress from with former winner David Gilbert, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, and James Cahill all gunning for a place in the final day.
Murphy started out strongly with a 3-1 win over Cahill thanks to breaks of 79, 64, and 51 and followed that up with 84 and 65 on the way to a 3-0 dispatch of Un-Nooh, to sit in pole position going into the evening session. Gilbert ended his afternoon with a draw against Un-Nooh and started the evening off with a 3-0 win over Cahill.
The final match of the session had it all on the line, with Murphy taking on Gilbert in a group decider. The 2005 World Champion only needed a draw, whilst a victory was required for Gilbert. Murphy took the opener, but Gilbert rattled in back-to-back centuries to set up a final frame shootout for a spot in Friday’s Group 1 alongside Chris Wakelin and Robert Milkins. It was Murphy who stepped up with a 71 break to ensure his progression.
Murphy said: “I am delighted. It’s the overriding feeling. I’ve had a busy few days since being here last week. I didn’t know what to expect but I was quietly pleased with today’s work. My friend Robbie and I went out for a coffee and we came back to the news there were four centuries on the bounce in another game and then David’s had two against me. You’re thinking I’ve played well here, but I am going to finish second. I held it together in the last frame and I am looking forward to Friday.”
Group A saw Zhou Yuelong, Xiao Guodong, Ben Woollaston, and Michael Holt take to battle with one of the most bizarre groups in the tournament’s history set to play out. Eventually it would all come down to the highest break. The afternoon session saw Zhou drawing 2-2 against Holt and Woollaston, with the latter sharing the spoils against Xiao.
The pattern of draws continued in the evening session with Holt surrendering a two-frame advantage to draw 2-2 with Xiao. Crucially Xiao made a break of 109 in that match, but it was Zhou who was top at that stage by virtue of his high break of 114.
Holt did notch up the first win of the day with a 3-0 win over Woollaston. That result left the picture clear for Xiao and Zhou with either needing a 3-0 win to secure the group, with any other result seeing Holt’s passage to the final day secured.
Xiao did secure the whitewash 3-0 win he required to seal progression by the barest of margins. He was level on points, frames and head-to-head with Holt, but his 109 break took him through.
Tomorrow sees Judd Trump, Joe Perry, Cao Yupeng and Matthew Stevens battle it out in Group B on Table 1 live on Viaplay Xtra in the UK, whilst Jak Jones, Zehuang Long, Sam Craigie and Michael White will all be looking to progress out of Group G live on the Matchroom Multi Sport YouTube and Matchroom.Live.
Watch BetVictor Championship League Snooker – Ranking Edition on Viaplay Xtra – FreeView in the UK and Ireland. Those in Scandinavia, the Baltics, Netherlands, and Poland can watch live on Viaplay whilst Matchroom.Live is available to those without a broadcaster. See where to watch here.
The BetVictor Championship League Snooker – Ranking Edition carries a first prize of £33,000 and the winner also secures a spot in the 2023 Champion of Champions set to take place in Bolton from November 13-19 live on ITV.
Secure your tickets for the 2023 Champion of Champions from £15 here with the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Mark Allen, and Mark Selby already qualified.