The 2015 world champion was joined by Ben Woollaston in the last 16 after both emerged from their respective groups in Milton Keynes.
Stuart Bingham topped Group 1 of the Championship League, but he was made to wait after almost squandering his winning position at the Marshall Arena on Saturday.
The 2015 Championship League winner was 2-1 ahead of rival Ricky Walden and clearing the table on a break of 62 when he missed a red that would have effectively sent him through.
A few moments later the nerves were getting the better of him as he botched another chance by rattling a straightforward pink.
Walden cleared to tie the scores, finishing on five points alongside Bingham, albeit unable to surpass the world number 13 as a result of his inferior highest break of the day.
Still, Bingham was forced to sweat and watched on as Jordan Brown had the opportunity to snatch first place with a 3-0 triumph against Jamie Clarke in the group’s last clash.
A 3-0 scoreline was indeed recorded, but it was the Welshman who earned his only victory of the round-robin phase to deny Brown, and in the process allow Bingham to advance as the group winner.
Bingham will feature in the same group as Ronnie O’Sullivan when phase two of the competition gets under way next week.
Meanwhile, Ben Woollaston was the other competitor to stay alive in the tournament after claiming seven out of a possible nine points from Group 8.
Woollaston won his opening eight frames in the event, whitewashing Liam Highfield and Thor Chuan Leong before establishing an early 2-0 advantage over Jimmy Robertson in his last tie.
Robertson, who was Woollaston’s closest challenge, rallied to win the last two frames and earn a point, but by that stage it was already too late.
🥪 “We had a sandwich together earlier but were two tables apart!”@Ben_Woollaston admits it has been strange having to socially distance from his wife @tatiana_referee this week, as he moves into the Winners’ Group stage of the https://t.co/Z38GE5f6Il #ChampionshipLeague pic.twitter.com/2RG5Gs8oeP
— Championship League (@CLSnooker) June 6, 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 Sunday with World Grand Prix champion Neil Robertson, Barry Hawkins, and Ken Doherty among those set to participate.
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.
Live coverage from Milton Keynes is 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.
Click here to view the draw (Times: CET)
Featured photo credit: CLSnooker