Ronnie O’Sullivan beat John Higgins and Jimmy White to set up a ManBetX Champion of Champions semi-final against Neil Robertson at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.
O’Sullivan has reached the final of this event every time he has played it and will now meet ‘The Thunder From Down Under’ in Friday’s best-of-11 semi-final after coming through Group 1 on Thursday.
The Rocket had survived a Whirlwind-sized scare as he came from 3-0 down against World Seniors Champion Jimmy White to win 4-3 in a match that will live long in the memory for the sold-out Ricoh Arena crowd. He then met Higgins in the group final after the Wizard of Wishaw had beaten Stuart Bingham 4-2 in his group semi-final.
The first six frames of the best-of-11 group final where shared between O’Sullivan and Higgins but from there it was dominance from the defending champion. A break of 85 took O’Sullivan ahead and he extended his lead to 5-3 in the eighth before closing out the match in the next frame.
“I didn’t play great but I don’t think John played well,” said O’Sullivan. “If John is on form I don’t like playing him, when he is on form he is your worst nightmare. I will go out there tomorrow, have a bit of fun and try and get my shot clock down to 10 seconds if I can. It is a good venue and a good table.”
Featuring tournament winners from the previous 12 months, the ManBetX Champion of Champions is broadcast live on ITV4 and has become one of snooker’s biggest tournaments since launching at Ricoh Arena in 2013. The likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Shaun Murphy have all lifted the trophy.
The tournament starts with a quartet of four-man groups played over four days from Monday, November 4 until Thursday, November 7. The winner of each group progresses to the semi-finals, with one played on Friday, November 8 and the other on Saturday, November 9. The final on Sunday, November 10 will be over 19 frames.
GROUP 1 FINAL
Ronnie O’Sullivan 6–3 John Higgins
29-92 (92), 75-27, 104-0 (104), 0-121 (89), 85-0 (77), 35-75, 85-6 (85), 90-20 (53), 74-49
Ronnie O’Sullivan 4–3 Jimmy White
6-83 (56), 0-73, 52-61, 135-0 (74), 61-19, 78-38, 76-29 (76)
John Higgins 4-2 Stuart Bingham
78-1 (78), 71-24, 56-80 (Bingham 56), 39-77, 70-22 (61), 117-1 (84)