The Championship League continues at the Ricoh Arena as players fight for the right to make it through to the Winners’ Group in March.
John Higgins is the reigning two-time champion of the event having won back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018, but can he make it a third? Neil Robertson and Jack Lisowski have already qualified for the Winners’ Group finale, but who will join them?
Luca Brecel and Barry Hawkins have set the early pace on day one and our snooker betting expert previews the action over the final day and picks out his best bets for the event.
What is the Championship League format?
The format of the Championship League sees players take part in six best of five-set matches over the course of two days.
The top four then qualify for a play-off where it becomes a straight knockout competition and the winner heads to March’s Winner’s Group while the other three players head into Group 4.
The fifth placed player in the group goes through to the next group, while the bottom two are eliminated from the competition.
Group 3 packed with quality
There is plenty of top-class snooker players in this week’s group action, with former World Champions Mark Selby, Barry Hawkins and Stuart Bingham coming up against the highly-talented trio of Luca Brecel, Kyren Wilson and Judd Trump.
Picking an overall winner from those contenders is a tough one and it almost depends on who turns up at their best over the course of the two-day tournament.
If they can get a good early run of form going in their first few matches then that could set them up for a good run at winning the group, while equally if they struggle from the off, they could be staring down the wall at elimination.
If you look at the form from the opening two groups, the picks would have to be Wilson or Brecel.
They both reached the last four last week, with Brecel just edging past Wilson 3-2, before losing 3-0 to Lisowski in the final.
Luca Brecel v Barry Hawkins
Both these two won their opening three matches on day one and while they are in the box seat to qualify for the play-offs, they will still want to secure bragging rights.
From their opening three games Hawkins only lost three frames, while Brecel was one worse off so this is sure to be a tight encounter
With Brecel’s previous form in this tournament I fancy him to take this one, but it will be close and a 3-2 win for the Belgian can be backed at 7/2
Mark Selby v Judd Trump
This will be some match to round of the group stages and there is likely to be a lot at stake for both players.
Trump ended the first day in fourth place but looked to be on course for a definite play-off spot after winning his first two matches, before ending the day with 3-1 and 3-2 defeats to Hawkins and Brecel to leave him with plenty of work to do.
Selby wasn’t at his best yesterday after suffering a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Hawkins, before just seeing off the challenge of Jimmy Robertson 3-2 and ending the day with a narrow 3-2 loss at the hands of Bingham.
Irrespective of whether both players will make the play-offs, I fancy this to be another close encounter, but Selby can prevail 3-1 at odds of 3/1.
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