Stephen Maguire was in good form in Group 3 of the Championship League as he emerged victorious at Crondon Park on Tuesday.
By beating Mark Selby 3-2 in the final, Maguire joins Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump in what is looking like a very high-quality Winners’ Group in March.
Scotland’s Maguire dominated the round-robin stage from the beginning, winning his opening three matches and losing just one in total to comfortably place in first ahead of the semi-finals.
In the last four, he whitewashed Ricky Walden with the help of a ton – to go along with previous runs of 139 and 138 in the event – to reach the final, where he narrowly edged the world no.1 in a decider.
Selby had beaten Welshman Michael White in the play-offs and the pair will have another crack at qualification in Group 4, along with Walden and Mark Williams, the latter squeezing into fifth place in the league right at the last minute.
They will be joined by newcomers Neil Robertson, Graeme Dott and Ben Woollaston as Joe Perry and Marco Fu were eliminated.