Mark Selby beat Barry Hawkins 3-1 in the final to win Group 2 of the Championship League on Friday.
The world champion won only three of his round-robin fixtures but scraped into the semi-finals thanks to a marginally superior frame difference.
In the last four, Selby compiled breaks of 101, 71, and 60 in beating 2017 runner-up Ryan Day 3-0 before adding a 103 century – the 500th ton of his career – in coming from behind to beat Hawkins.
The latter had topped the league stage with a 100% record before beating Kyren Wilson 3-1 in the semi-finals but eventually ran out of steam against the world number one.
Selby advances to the Winners’ Group in March, joining China’s Zhou Yuelong who emerged successfully from Group 1 earlier this week.
Australia’s Neil Robertson had been on course to make the playoffs but was forced to pull out late in the event due to personal reasons.
Robertson and Stephen Maguire, who only managed a brace of victories from his six ties, are eliminated from the competition.
Hawkins, Wilson, Day, and fifth placed Anthony Hamilton will gain another crack at qualification for the Winners’ Group next week when they compete in Group 3 alongside newcomers Ali Carter, Mark Allen, and Anthony McGill.
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