David Gilbert became the first player to book his place in the 2017 Championship League Winners’ Group, beating Ryan Day in the Group 1 final at the tournament’s new venue, the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.
Day raced to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five final but was pegged back by Gilbert, who made breaks of 121 and then 52 to level. The Tamworth potter then completed the turnaround with a 45 clearance to progress to Winners’ Group for the first time.
Welshman Day had defeated Anthony McGill 3-2 in his group semi-final, making a 135 in the opening frame to take the £500 high break prize. Gilbert had seen off Mark Davis 3-1 in his semi-final.
“I scraped through the group and Ben Woollaston could have put me out earlier today, so I was a bit lucky to get through to the play-offs,” said Gilbert.
“The table was quite tough and I hadn’t played a lot over Christmas. I lost a frame when he needed a snooker, so it was looking bad from there. I have rode my luck a bit these last two days but I am chuffed to bits to get through.
“I have never qualified for Winners’ Group before so that will be nice. Hopefully I can get a run in that because there is some good money on offer, and a place in the Champion of Champions.”
Having finished fifth on the round robin group table, Matthew Selt will return to compete in group two along with Davis, McGill and Day. They will be joined by Neil Robertson, Mark Williams and Michael White. Ben Woollaston and Robert Milkins were eliminated from the tournament.
Championship League Snooker event is a venture between Matchroom Sport and Perform where 25 of the game’s elite players compete with all matches broadcast on a host of betting websites.
Each group features seven players with each man playing the other six once in a round-robin basis. Every match is the best of five and the winner gains one point with the loser getting zero.
At the end of the league phase the top four advances to that group’s semi-finals where the two winners meet in the final and the winner advances to the Winners’ Group in March.
The losing finalist, two losing semi-finalists and player finishing fifth move into the next group where they are joined by three new players and the process is repeated.
Group Two commences tomorrow at 11.00am. Live scoring can be found at www.worldsnooker.com. Group fixtures results can be found at http://www.championshipleaguesnooker.co.uk/