Zhao Xintong put on a masterclass to become the third player into Winners’ Group of the 2022 BetVictor Championship League Snooker Invitational, winning Group Three at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.
Zhao came into the playoffs in fine fettle, after winning all six matches in the group stage whilst only conceding four frames along the way. The 24-year-old overcame Stuart Bingham in the group semi-final with a break of 138, his highest break of the tournament so far, to secure a 3-1 win and face the winner of Mark Selby and Xiao Guodong in the final.
It was Xiao who made breaks of 70, 52, 79 and 89 in a 3-1 defeat of Selby, to set up a clash with compatriot Zhao for a spot in the Winners’ Group.
UK Champion Zhao amassed an early 2-0 buffer with 90 in the first frame and two breaks of 40 and 20 in the second. However, Xiao came back into it with two heavy scoring frames to force a decider. It was Zhao who sealed progression thanks to a run of 66 to join Liang Wenbo and Graeme Dott in the next stage.
Losing semi-finalists Selby and Bingham join Group Four tomorrow alongside Xiao, Lu Ning, Judd Trump, 2021 Championship League Snooker Invitational Winner Kyren Wilson, and 2020 Winner Scott Donaldson. Joe Perry and Ryan Day were eliminated after finishing 6th and 7th respectively.
Zhao said: “I played very well over the two days. I just wanted to play as I do in practice. I am waiting for the Masters and I want to play more. In this final, I played very well. It was perfect preparation. I will practise more now as I wait for the Masters.”
Each of the seven players faces each other once in the round-robin group stage, after which the top four players in the league table progress to Thursday evening’s play-offs. The eventual group champion advances to February’s Winners’ Group with the remaining players who finished in the top five during the league phase continuing to Group Four which begins tomorrow. when three new players join the tournament. The bottom two players in each group phase are eliminated. All matches are best of five.
The tournament carries a prize fund of £205,000 with players earning £100 per frame won with significant bonuses for their final group position and increased prize money in the Winners’ Group. A place in the 2022 Cazoo Champion of Champions is also on the line with each group featuring seven players with matches being held over two days.
Trump, Wilson, and Donaldson all enter at Group 4 tomorrow from 11 am on FreeSports in the UK and Ireland as well as networks worldwide. Table 2 is available globally on Matchroom.Live excluding the Nordic and Baltic regions.
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