Snooker is among the first sports to return to the calendar in the UK following the lifting of restrictions due to COVID-19.
Luca Brecel and Mark Joyce were the two players to advance as first stage group winners as the Championship League continued at the Marshall Arena on Tuesday.
Brecel was involved in a dramatic Group 9 alongside Jack Lisowski, Oliver Lines, and Robbie Williams.
After earning a win and a draw apiece from their opening two round-robin fixtures, Brecel and Lisowski were tied on points heading into their winner-takes-all bout.
Both cueists dealt with nerves and rustiness as they scrambled to make it through to phase two of the competition next week.
When Brecel won an error-strewn third frame to lead 2-1, Lisowski required a break of 138 or higher in the last to deny the Belgian.
Brecel had earlier constructed the century break in his 3-0 whitewash of Lines, and that method is being used to determine the placings should the league standings be tied.
As it was, Lisowski won the frame but Brecel went through, as the “Dude” wasn’t able to muster the significant contribution.
It was much more straightforward for Joyce, with the Englishman safely moving forward to the last 16 courtesy of recording a hat-trick of round-robin triumphs in the empty venue.
Joyce secured 3-1 victories in each of his ties – beginning with Mark Davis before repeating the scoreline against Michael Holt and Louis Heathcote.
🗣️ “I came here with no expectations!”
Mark Joyce wasn’t expecting much but leaves today as a group winner with three straight wins as he advances into the winners’ group of the https://t.co/Z38GE5f6Il #ChampionshipLeague pic.twitter.com/dTDlGKmKNr
— Championship League (@CLSnooker) June 2, 2020
Once again, all eight players tested negative for the coronavirus before being able to participate.
Accommodation at the Marshall Arena means that players can adhere to the strict isolation measures that are being enforced for this tournament in order for it to run smoothly.
There will be two more groups on Wednesday with the likes of Kyren Wilson, Joe Perry, and Ryan Day set to participate.
The winner of each group progresses to phase two where four further groups will produce the Tournament Finals group of four on June 11th.
A champion’s cheque worth £30,000 is on offer as the snooker players return to some form of normality, albeit under rather unique circumstances.
World champion and world number one Judd Trump safely made it through his opening test on Monday.
Live coverage will be provided worldwide as the sport attempts to capitalise on what is currently a rather barren sporting calender.
ITV4 will provide blanket coverage in the UK and Ireland, Eurosport has earned the rights for the European continent, while new streaming service Matchroom.Live will bring the tournament to fans across Africa, the Americas, and parts of Asia.