Barry Hawkins was the first player to qualify for the 2015 Championship League Winners’ Group after emerging victorious from Group 1 on Tuesday.
The Englishman reached the semi-finals after finishing third following the round-robin stage, having registered four victories from his opening six encounters.
Hawkins then saw off the top two seeds Neil Robertson and Stuart Bingham with successive 3-1 triumphs.
His progress ensures that he’ll be one of seven competitors in with a chance of lifting the trophy next month in Crondon Park, with the overall winner gaining an invite into the lucrative Champion of Champions in Coventry later this year.
It was a good couple of days for the ‘Hawk’ for more reasons than just winning alone, as on Monday he compiled his second competitive 147 break en route to a 3-0 defeat of Scot Stephen Maguire.
Unfortunately for the 35 year-old, his achievement doesn’t offer any monetary value other than the 100 pounds he gets for notching an extra frame on the scoreboard.
Still, it proves that he is playing well and Hawkins will surely take that confidence into next week’s Masters at the Alexandra Palace in London.
Maguire was one of two players to exit the Championship League early after finishing last in a tight group, with Mark King – a late replacement for Shaun Murphy – joining him on the casualty list.
Defending champion Judd Trump looked to be in serious trouble when he suffered four defeats on the first day but wins over King and Bingham yesterday ensured he squeezed into the last four and offers him another bite at the cherry today.
Trump, Bingham, Robertson and Marco Fu, who finished fifth in the group, march on to Group 2 then over the next couple of days and are joined by Ali Carter, Michael Holt and Robert Milkins.
Edit: Robertson chose not to continue his CL campaign and is replaced by Matthew Selt.