Ricky Walden and Luca Brecel claimed the final spots for the last day of the BetVictor Championship League in Leicester.
Shaun Murphy took on Elliot Slessor in his opening match of the day. The Magician took the first, before Slessor hit back in the second to level at 1-1. Back to back century breaks from 2005 World Champion Murphy then gave him all three points thanks to a 3-1 win.
Walden was the main man vying for top spot with Murphy, but he was always up against it after a 2-2 draw with Anthony Hamilton despite leading 2-0. Walden did go into the evening top of the group though, thanks to a 3-0 win over Slessor.
Murphy then defeated Hamilton 3-1, before the Sheriff of Pottingham recovered to end his day on a positive note thanks to a 3-0 defeat of Slessor.
In the group decider, Walden took the early initiative with 64 in the first, but Murphy edged the second 65-56 to level and be one away from the final day. Murphy made 62 in the third and needed one red to force Walden into needing snookers. He missed his chance and Walden stole the frame before taking the third to lead 2-1. Walden needed one more to top the group and he fired in a huge winning break of 135 to seal his progression.
Walden said: “When I finished off, that’s the best frame I’ve played all day. It’s been a bit of a slog at times and I rode my luck. I was fortunate at the end and put a good break together. I thought I was done. I didn’t want to be driving home on the back of a safety shot. You get used to winning games. I didn’t play well today but luck has been with me.”
Brecel started the day out against amateur Daniel Wells with a 2-2 draw. In the second contest of the day on Table 2, Chris Wakelin didn’t hang around, as he dispatched Jamie Clarke 3-0. The man from Rugby edged the opening two, before a break of 93 in the final frame wrapped up the victory. Wells was proving tough to beat and he took a 2-1 lead over Wakelin, but a crushing break of 108 restored parity to see the match end 2-2.
When the evening session got underway, Brecel whitewashed Clarke 3-0 thanks to breaks of 91 and 45 in the last two frames. The Belgian Bullet went from strength to strength to beat Wakelin by the same scoreline and top the group.
At the end of tomorrow, the winners of Group 1 and 2 respectively will meet in the 2022 BetVictor Championship League Snooker final in a Best of 5 to be crowned champion.
Group 2 headlines Table 1 tomorrow live on FreeSports, DAZN, Viaplay, and Matchroom.Live with Zhao Xintong, Luca Brecel, Xiao Guodong, and Lyu Haotian with Group 1 live on YouTube from midday with Stuart Bingham, Ricky Walden, Lu Ning, and Pang Junxu.
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