Judd Trump is the first man into the Winners’ Group of the Championship League after a 3-2 victory over countryman Shaun Murphy in the final of Group One.
Hot off the heels of claiming his first UK Championship crown before Christmas, the Englishman has started the New Year in similar fashion and appears intent on triumphing in everything that he competes in.
The 22 year-old only squeezed into the semi-finals after finishing fourth in the Round Robin stage but saw off table-topper Mark Selby 3-1 in the last four before a deciding frame victory over Murphy.
World number one Selby had won five out of his six matches in the group stages to sit proudly atop the league standings but the joys of a Play-off system is that you are only as good as your last match.
Similarly, Mark Davis claimed second spot on the table but lost out 3-1 to Murphy in the other semi-final clash.
Never mind, as the trio advance into Group Two which commences tomorrow and concludes on Thursday.
Joining them will be defending Championship League champion Matthew Stevens who, despite defeats in his opening four bouts, concluded the league with consecutive whitewashes to pip Andrew Higginson and Ali Carter to fifth place – the last remaining slot that guarantees your status in the event.
That means that the English duo of Higginson and Carter are eliminated following the first group and will have no more chances to join Trump in the winner’s enclosure this March.
Six more groups will take place before then with each champion proceeding to the final group alongside Trump for a place in next season’s Premier League.
Of course, the Bristol baize basher should already be assured of his place in the invitational event having won in York last month but he won’t be bothered about that as long as he maintains his hot streak of form.
Indeed, the Championship League, which is streamed live on 17 bookmaker websites specifically for a gambling audience, is an excellent chance for the players to hone their skills in a competitive environment while picking up a handy amount of dosh along the way.
In that sense, with £100 up for grabs for each frame won, it is not a complete disaster if a player fails to win each group but ensures advancement to the subsequent one by finishing in the top five out of seven after the round robin stage.
Group Two, therefore, will include Murphy, Davis, Selby, Stevens with newcomers Mark Williams, Neil Robertson and Stuart Bingham.