03 april 2021 publish date

The Champion among The Winners. Final Championship League 2021

Judd Trump became the third player in snooker history to reach the landmark of 800 career centuries, during the first day of the BetVictor Championship League Winners’ Group.

Trump joins Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins in reaching the 800 milestone, having made five tons on Thursday to take his career tally to 801.

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The tournament will be played to a finish on Friday, and is wide open after the first day of play. John Higgins sits top of the table with three wins, Trump, Kyren Wilson, Graeme Dott and Ali Carter all have two points, while Zhou Yuelong has one.

Higgins, a two-time Championship League winner, beat Mark Williams, Dott and and Zhou before losing 3-1 to Trump.

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The final match of the evening on Table 1 saw Trump and Wilson go head-to-head. Both had 147 attempts during the match; Trump potted 15 reds and 15 blacks before leaving the yellow in the jaws in the opening frame. Then, in the second, Wilson made it to 81 before missing a black, while attempting to develop the remaining pack of reds.

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Wilson entered the group on 19 centuries for the tournament, three short of the record for most by one player in a single tournament, set by Neil Robertson in the 2014 Championship League. However, the Kettering man hasn’t managed to add to that tally in the three matches he has played so far.

Williams had started the day rooted to the bottom of the table having lost all three of his matches on Thursday. The Welshman, who won Group 7 on Wednesday to take the last remaining spot in Winners’ Group, turned things around completely on day two though, beating Ali Carter, Judd Trump and Zhou Yuelong to finish third in the standings.

He met Graeme Dott in the semi-finals and advanced to the final with a 3-0 win, while Wilson had beaten John Higgins by taking the last three frames of the match for a 3-2 success.

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Williams, who won the WST Pro Series two weeks ago, got off to a perfect start in the final with a 127 break. Wilson got 57 on the board in the second before he was unable to split the pack, and Williams came from his chair to steal the frame with a 79.

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Another 57 was enough for Wilson to get on the board in the third. Then, in the fourth, came a piece of snooker history.

Wilson had admitted that the century record was on his mind in the early stages of the group, but the Kettering man put that out of his mind to win his last match against Zhou to qualify for the play-offs. He made his first ton of the group in that match and then made back-to-back centuries in the semi-finals to level Robertson’s record. The first was a 135 and the second a 142 which took the £1,000 high break prize from Dott, who had made a 141 against Trump in the Group Phase.

The fourth frame of the final saw Wilson beat his own high-break of 142 with a 143 and as the 100 came up, his 23rd of this tournament, he gave a knowing tap of the table. More crucially, though, Wilson was now level in the final with one to play.

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A brilliant long red got Williams in in the final frame, but after five reds had been taken, the Welshman missed the black and the cue landed bang in the middle of the pack.

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That gave Wilson a chance, and last season’s World Championship finalist grabbed it with both hands to make a 94 clearance for the title.

Wilson won the ranking event version of this event earlier in the season and will now play the 2021 Champion of Champions having now lifted the invitational BetVictor Championship League Snooker title too.

“It’s a brilliant event to win,” said Wilson, who accumulated £29,300 in prize money throughout the tournament. “You have all the best players in the world in it and it is tough to win, so I’m delight to win two in a row.

“I like the setup, Matchroom are quality, and you are playing the best in the world. It’s fantastic preparation for the World Championship.

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“There are so many records flying about in snooker, it is hard to get your hands on one. It shows how much I have improved this season; one of my criticisms was my cue ball control so to smash that out of the park and have a new world record is awesome.

“I was putting myself under pressure all through the group because I knew I needed four to break the record. Coming into day two I hadn’t made one but at 2-0 down to Zhou I had my first. In the semis and final I had three more, so I am delighted with that.

“I am pleased to get into the Champion of Champions because it is a huge tournament and I was a frame away from getting that title in 2018, so it is great to have the chance to play in that.”

The article is based on WST.TV