It was the third edition of the tournament this calendar year and the first ever to be attributed ranking points.
Kyren Wilson won the fourth ranking title of his career on Friday with a 3-1 victory over Judd Trump in the final of the Championship League in Milton Keynes.
The 28 year-old was the last man standing after a long and somewhat tedious competition that mixed a short format with round-robin play.
Wilson was among eight players who made it through to the final day of action following two earlier group victories.
The Kettering cueist’s final group included former world champion John Higgins and Ken Doherty, as well as the inaugural Championship League winner from way back in 2008, Joe Perry.
It was a tight league with Wilson, Higgins, and Doherty all having a shot at advancing to the overall final as the group winner heading into the last round of fixtures.
But Wilson, who had already won both of his first two ties, crucially added the single frame he needed against Higgins to progress on frame difference.
It left the Scot’s 3-1 triumph mostly redundant, although he did manage to conjure up a memorable moment right at the end by compiling an 11th career 147 break.
The maximum for Higgins means that he is now tied with countryman Stephen Hendry on the all-time list and four shy of Ronnie O’Sullivan’s target.
Meanwhile, Trump emerged from Group 1 with two wins and a single defeat leaving him on six points from a possible nine.
The three-time champion’s 3-0 loss to Mark Selby at the end of the day could have opened the door for Zhao Xintong, but the Chinese youngster lost his last frame to score an insufficient draw against Zhou Yuelong.
It set up an intriguing contest between Trump and Wilson, who have shared a healthy rivalry with one another over the course of the last couple of years.
Wilson inflicted the “Curse of the Crucible” on the world number one en route to the final of the World Championship in Sheffield this year, while Trump’s 4-3 success in Gibraltar gifted him a record sixth ranking title of a single campaign last term.
In fact, this was their sixth meeting in 2020 and Wilson made it all-square in that recent head-to-head battle with a 3-1 victory to etch his name onto the trophy.
A break of 64 by Wilson was followed by a century from Trump as a close finish appeared to be in store.
But the former won the third frame to move within the brink of glory and subsequently captured the top prize in the next with a run of 88.
“Lockdown has been really difficult for me and my family. My wife’s been through a bit of a hard time of it. She’s sort of the mend now. I’m obviously buzzing I can take that home to her.” 🗣️@KyrenWilson on winning the @BetVictor Championship League Snooker 🏆 pic.twitter.com/z9VuxlNgV8
— Championship League Snooker (@CLSnooker) October 30, 2020
The Kettering cueist pockets a total of £33,000 for his efforts in the Championship League and he will go to next week’s more prestigious Champion of Champions with renewed confidence.
Defeat for Trump marks the first time since 2017 that he has experienced the losing sensation in a ranking event final – ending his run of ten title-deciding victories in a row.
In general, the Championship League served its usual purpose to provide the Main Tour with more playing opportunities on the calendar.
However, the format was difficult to become fully invested in and there was an embarrassing climax for broadcaster FreeSports, which for whatever ridiculous reason failed to show the opening two frames of a best-of-five final.
Still, Kyren Wilson won’t mind too much as he adds the Championship League title to his previous ranking event wins in the Shanghai Masters, Paul Hunter Classic, and German Masters.
I think there’s been too much Championship League this year. Understand we’re in a tough situation but surely they could’ve devised a knockout event to fill the void of no Chinese action currently.
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