The second day of the Championship League Snooker competition sees two more first stage groups being played out inside the bio-secure bubble in the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes as another two places in the second section of the event are up for grabs.
We saw one big name make it through to the next stage on Sunday and on Monday another one will attempt to follow his lead on the main table on what should be a decent day of snooker given some of the competitors we have.
The whole tour were invited into the tournament with it now getting ranking event status. The 128 man field have been split into 32 groups of four in the first round. Each group is a round robin with everyone playing everyone else over the best of four frames with two points for a win and one for a draw. The player who tops the group goes through to the second stage where the 32 remaining players are split into four more groups of four over the same format. Those eight winners then go into two more groups where the winner of each will battle it out in a best of five frame final for the title. Two groups will be played on each day until the final day when the Championship group and final is played. The initial stages of the tournament are live on Matchroom.live.
Day 1 Recap
It was a day where the favourites obliged in both groups and such was their dominance that they actually had their group sewn up long before they took to the table for the final time. Judd Trump powered through his section with a pair of 3-0 wins before a 2-2 draw in what was a dead rubber for him. He wasn’t in scintillating form but he did more than enough to get the job done. Ryan Day was the other man to come through. He lost his final match but having won his first two he knew he was safely through by the time that came around.
It was a decent opening day for us betting wise. We only went in with one bet which was for Fan Zhengyi to beat David Lilley without the draw in play. We probably should have kept the draw in play because the Chinese player was never in any danger at all as he cruised to a 3-0 win. Given that the bet was at odds against that sends us on our way quite nicely with plenty of snooker to come.
Robert Milkins vs Chen Zifan
Gary Wilson vs Jamie Jones
Gary Wilson vs Chen Zifan
Robert Milkins vs Jamie Jones
Gary Wilson vs Robert Milkins
Chen Zifan vs Jamie Jones
Gary Wilson is the top seed in Group 3 and he will be the favourite to join Judd Trump and Ryan Day in the next stage. He went very well in his opening group in the previous Championship League which offers encouragement that he’ll go well here too. Robert Milkins is the second seed in this group but he hasn’t been at his best for a while so he is going to need to have raised his game in the close season to come through here you would think. Chen Zifan has a chance to show his talents on a decent stage here while Jamie Jones returns to the tour in this group.
Barry Hawkins vs Ben Hancorn
Sam Craigie vs Jackson Page
Sam Craigie vs Ben Hancorn
Barry Hawkins vs Jackson Page
Jackson Page vs Ben Hancorn
Barry Hawkins vs Sam Craigie
The big name on show on Monday is the former world finalist Barry Hawkins, a player who if he is at his best could easily go very close to winning this whole thing let alone this group. He isn’t known for beginning seasons very well though so it will be interesting to see what he offers. There is a good chance that he’ll need to be somewhere near his best because Sam Craigie was brilliant in the first group in the last Championship League and if he repeats that form he’ll be a threat throughout the day. As a third seed Jackson Page isn’t the easiest draw in the world. Ben Hancorn comes with a big reputation and makes his tour debut in this group.
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I wasn’t too keen to get involved in the group betting on Sunday but I am more enticed to get stuck in on Monday and my attention sits in Group 4 where it feels right to take on Barry Hawkins. If you think back a couple of months Sam Craigie was in brilliant touch, coming through his first group with a win over Matt Selt and a draw against Ali Carter and although he went out in the second group he beat Stuart Bingham and put up a decent challenge against Ronnie O’Sullivan. I wouldn’t go as far as to say this group is a match between the main two but at the prices I do like Craigie to come through here.
In the other group it is hard to oppose Gary Wilson because he should be suited to the test. He is a pretty heavy scorer who is used to the bright lights and TV cameras and things. I’m not going to oppose him but given that Jamie Jones recently came through Q-School and by all accounts scored well while he was there, he could be a little bit of value at 3/1 but of the two bets I’m more than happy to be on Craigie.
It is in that Hawkins group where my match bet comes from although I’m going to focus on the two lower ranked players Jackson Page and Ben Hancorn. I get that Page is the man on tour and has played on TV a few times but he is little bit like Judd Trump was when he first came onto the scene. He has a big reputation and a game that might be too aggressive. When he learns the right times to go for his shots and when not to he’ll be some player but he might be worth taking on here.
Hancorn won’t have come on the tour to make up the numbers and a 4-0 win over Chen Feilong, a man who held Kyren Wilson and Ryan Day in the opening Championship League since lockdown, at Q-School shows that he is in decent touch at the minute. Whenever I looked through the Chalenge Tour results last season Hancorn was scoring very big so if Page isn’t at the races or has lost interest in the assumption that he’ll be out by the time this match takes place, the debutant could well pick up a win here which is likely to earn him a few quid for his ranking. I’ll take Hancorn without the draw.
Back S.Craigie to win Group 4 for a 3/10 stake at 3.00 with Betfred
PUSH – Back B.Hancorn to beat J.Page (DNB) for a 3/10 stake at 2.75 with Coral