Phil Haigh ✍️
Luca Brecel and Ricky Walden are the final two players into the last eight of the Championship League, with the epic tournament coming to an end on Friday.
The competition began all the way back on 28 June and a champion will finally be crowned on Friday (29 July) after two more groups are contested and the winners meet in the final.
Brecel topped his group on Thursday ahead of Daniel Wells, Chris Wakelin and Jamie Clarke. Meanwhile Walden pipped Shaun Murphy to top Group G, with Anthony Hamilton and Elliot Slessor behind the Magician.
Walden needed a win over Murphy in the last match of their group, and at 2-1 ahead it went to a deciding frame, in which the Gladiator made a break of 135 to book his spot in Friday’s action.
You would have got astronomical odds on picking the eight players who are still standing on the final day of the tournament, with a number of big names falling by the wayside.
The likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Mark Selby, Mark Williams and Jack Lisowski have all come and gone, while some lesser-known names will have a chance to win the first ranking title of the season in Leicester on Friday.
Group One will see Walden face Stuart Bingham, Lu Ning and Pang Junxu, with the two Chinese stars looking to win their first ranking title ever.
Group Two includes Zhao Xintong, Xiao Guodong, Lyu Haotian and Brecel, with Xiao and Lyu also both looking for their first ranking titles, but will have it tough against the two men who contested last season’s UK Championship final.
It has been a very impressive tournament for Chinese players so far, with five making it through to the last eight.
Ding Junhui won a very different version of this tournament back in 2012, but this would be much more significant for any of the Chinese contingent still involved this year.
The winner will talk away with a total of £33,000, which will go onto their world rankings and would represent the perfect start to the season.
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