Ronnie O’Sullivan was sent packing from the Championship League on Tuesday night despite losing just one match in the competition.
The Rocket hadn’t lost a single frame going into the Winners Group, after whitewashing Kishan Hirani, Michael Georgiou and Chris Wakelin in the first phase of the event.
O’Sullivan was rated the 5-2 joint-favourite alongside Judd Trump when play got underway yesterday and the five-time World Champion looked like going some way to justifying that price when kicking-off with a 3-0 win over Harvey Chandler. Another 3-1 victory over Sam Craigie followed and it seemed like serene progress for the Chigwell potter.
O’Sullivan needed just a draw to be sure of his place in tomorrow’s finals and even a 3-1 defeat would have given the Rocket hope of progression but Stuart Bingham gazumped his rival with a 3-0 victory and topped the group.
Battle of Group B
Today’s action sets up a contest between Trump, David Gilbert, Barry Hawkins and Ryan Day in what looks a mouth-watering Winners Group B.
Trump understandably heads the section betting, given he is the current World Champion and holder of six ranking titles, and, although he won all three of his games in the first phase of this event, he can be taken on.
The Ace looked a little rusty when topping Group Two and was fairly fortunate to beat Elliot Slessor and Daniel Wells. This represents a major step up in class on those opponents and at
11/2 perhaps Hawkins is a bit of value against the Bristol potter.
The Hawk has looked in good nick, especially in a 3-0 win over Craig Steadman, and if he is able to produce anything near his best form, the former World Championship runner-up can match anyone in this field.
Day and Gilbert are not easily opposed but at the prices Hawkins looks the man to side with.
Tyneside Terror to Triumph
In today’s other section showdown, surprise package Ashley Carty joins Gary Wilson, Luca Brecel and Mark Joyce. Carty was a
16/1 shot to navigate his way past Neil Robertson, Kurt Maflin and Ken Doherty and while he has done exceptionally well to reach this stage, his heroics are unlikely to be repeated.
Wilson is one of the best break-builders in the game and he showed just why when making knocks of 60, 73, 100, 107, 125 and 134 across the ten frames he contested in the previous round of this competition. There are few cuemen who can live with the Tyneside Terror in that sort of scoring form and Wilson has little to fear from today’s second phase.
Brecel only narrowly progressed to the Winners Group having won just one of his opening three contents. The Belgian Bullet has bags of talent but can lack consistency and on what we have seen so far, it’s going to be difficult for him to compete with Wilson.
Joyce is a tough match player and looked good in the balls in the first phase of this event. The Walsall potter could prove to be the biggest threat to Wilson but at odds of
6/5 the Tyneside Terror looks worthy of support.
*All odds correct at time of writing