Ricky Walden edged Judd Trump 3-2 in the final of the first group in the 2014 Championship League.
The victory means that the Chester cueist is the first man through to the Winners Group that will take place in March.
This is the seventh year of the annual invitational event, with the inaugural staging having taken place in Crondon Park in 2008.
Not much has changed with the format since its inception, with the competition offering several of the top players the opportunity to earn some extra dosh.
At first, the Championship League was devised in order to help fill the spacious gaps between regular ranking tournaments on the calendar.
This was prior to the Barry Hearn era when an influx of new initiatives helped revitalise the sport in so many different ways.
While many argue that there is no need for the tournament now that each season is chock-a-block with other, arguably more important, events, as long as it doesn’t impede with said ventures the CL does still have its rightful place.
After all, it is a handy little way for those at the top of the tree to gain precious match practice and potentially earn a tidy sum by the end as well.
Some critics will again testify that this is going against the grain of where the sport should be going in opening its doors to a wider professional playing community.
Yet, large strides have already been made to level the playing field and, to be fair, the top players have earned their right to compete in these invitation events – like the Masters or Champion of Champions – as they have achieved their success by their own right.
Speaking of, the overall winner of the Championship League will gain a lucrative invite to the Champion of Champions in Coventry, having replaced the tired Premier League last year.
Anyway, for those not in the know, the format of the Championship League is relatively simple.
There are seven groups with seven players in each group. The seven who emerge victorious in these groups go forward to the Winners Group – where an overall champion will be crowned.
The groups start off as a round-robin system with every player playing each other once. The top four go through to the semi-finals, with the final then determining the winner.
Finally, the two players who finish at the bottom of each group will be eliminated for the next group, being replaced by two fresh faces, while a third competitor will take the place of the winner.
Group 1 consisted of Ricky Walden, Judd Trump, Ali Carter, Mark Davis, Shaun Murphy, Robert Milkins and Stuart Bingham.
For reaching the semi-finals, Trump, Carter and Davis move onto Group 2, as does Murphy for finishing fifth in the group.
Walden goes through to the Winners Group, while Milkins and Bingham are out for finishing last and second last respectively.
This trio will be replaced by former champion Joe Perry, World Championship runner-up Barry Hawkins and world no.1 Neil Robertson for the second group, which starts today.
Understand? See, simple…
There’s a lot of money to be made in this tournament so the matches tend to be competitive enough, despite being played at a venue that doesn’t offer any seats for the viewing public.
For every frame a players wins in the group stage, he wins £100 while a frame won in the semis or final offers £300 reward.
There are also bonuses for getting out of the initial phases and making the Winners Group.
Walden will be pleased to have already booked his place in the finale so soon, but, on the other hand, his earning potential has now considerably diminished.
With the likes of Trump going through to the next group, he can earn more and gain invaluable match practice – something which the Bristol potter arguably needs having endured a difficult campaign so far.
So an interesting event then, one which is designed for the Bookies market, and all the matches can be viewed live if you have an account with any of the major online bookmakers.
The results of Group 1 can be viewed here.