The fifth and sixth group winners booked their spots in the next phase of the competition.
Dominic Dale and Zhou Yuelong made it through to the second phase of the Championship League on Tuesday at the Marshall Arena.
After beating Louis Heathcote 3-0 and drawing 2-2 with Stephen Maguire, Dale knew that a victory over Leo Fernandez in his last round-robin fixture would see him qualify in top spot.
The latter had a 100% record following his opening two ties so needed only a point to progress, but a close battle ended with Dale taking the final frame for a 3-1 victory.
In Group 6, it was an even tighter affair as three out of the four contenders were separated by just a single point.
After the final round of matches both finished all-square, it was Zhou Yuelong who managed to survive on frame difference.
Tour rookie Zhao Jianbo missed out by a single frame, while the more experienced Ricky Walden finished in third place ahead of Gerard Greene.
Dale and Zhou have to wait several weeks before rejoining the action in this event, with the winners of several more first-stage groups yet to be determined.
👴 “I could play this game competitively till I am 80 if I was good enough!”
— Championship League Snooker (@CLSnooker) September 15, 2020
Following the decision to upgrade the Championship League to a ranking event, a total of 128 players are involved in a unique format which incorporates a round-robin as well as short encounters that will last only four frames.
Taking place over three separate weeks on the calendar, the first two weeks are effectively qualifiers for the third and final stint of action in late October that will ultimately provide the champion.
There are 32 groups at the outset comprising four players in each, with the 32 winners following the mini-league phase advancing to the second stage.
The first 16 groups are being contested this week, while the remaining 16 groups from phase one will undertake their fixtures at the end of September and into October.
World number one Judd Trump has already made it through to the next phase, having emerged from Sunday’s Group 1.
The three-time Championship League winner will be among the favourites for glory and you can check out these sites for the best snooker betting opportunities online.
Englishmen Barry Hawkins and Robert Milkins, as well as Welshman Ryan Day – who compiled a terrific maximum break to launch the new term in style – have also advanced so far from the competition.
On Wednesday, the likes of Shaun Murphy and Jimmy White are set to enter the fray.
The English pair are involved in Group 8 alongside Martin O’Donnell and Q School graduate Peter Devlin.
For the “Whirlwind”, it will represent the beginning of a 41st consecutive campaign on the Main Tour for the recent world seniors champion.
In Group 7, June’s Championship League runner-up Ben Woollaston is in action against Matthew Selt, Si Jiahui, and Gao Yang.
The Championship League is the first of numerous events on the 2020/21 snooker schedule that will be staged in Milton Keynes.
Live coverage is on FreeSports, Matchroom.Live, and various other platforms around the world.
Click here to view the full draw (Times: CET)
Featured photo credit: WST