Dominic Dale and Zhou Yuelong are the first players through to Stage Two Group B of BetVictor Championship League Snooker after topping their respective groups at Stadium MK on Tuesday.
Dale edged out amateur Leo Fernandez in the decisive match of Group 5 on the main table. Fernandez had earlier claimed shock 3-1 wins over Stephen Maguire and Louis Heathcote to take charge of the group.
Two-time ranking event winner Dale had beaten Heathcote 3-0 and drawn 2-2 with Maguire, setting up a dramatic match with Fernandez to determine who would advance. A point would be enough for the amateur, while Dale needed a win.
It was two-time ranking event winner Dale who took the first two frames, but Fernandez wasn’t going down without a fight and took the third to keep his hopes alive. However, Dale’s experience proved key as he won the crucial fourth frame to top the group on seven points.
“I am delighted to get through,” said Dale. “I have put some work in on the practice table. I started off in the first match with a cue action I had set myself to use for the season, but felt it wasn’t me and went back to my old one part way through the match. I was really focused, careful and diligent out there and it certainly worked today.
“I went into the last match thinking a draw was enough and as I started the first frame I realised I had to win. I couldn’t get in first in either of the first two frames and was behind in both. Finally, the fourth frame I got in first and I made a decent break and kept the pressure on.”
On table two, China’s Zhou progressed with five points having beaten Gerard Greene 3-0 and drawn 2-2 with Zhao Jianbo and Ricky Walden. Tour rookie Zhao could have taken top spot if he had won his last match against Greene, but he drew 2-2 which wasn’t enough.
BetVictor Championship League Snooker continues with Group 7 and Group 8 on Wednesday. Action on Table 1 sees Shaun Murphy, Martin O’Donnell, Jimmy White and Peter Devlin compete in Group 8. Table 2 showcases Matthew Selt, Ben Woollaston, Si Jiahui and Gao Yang. Coverage of both tables is available at Matchroom.Live.
Group fixtures, results, standings and details of how to watch can be found at http://www.championshipleaguesnooker.co.uk/.
FINAL GROUP STANDINGS
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