The non-ranking tournament reaches its conclusion this week.
Mark Williams completed the Championship League Winners’ Group draw after emerging from Group 7 on Wednesday in Milton Keynes.
The Welshman continued his good form in short formats of late to join the six other players who had already reached the final stage of the competition.
Williams, a winner of the WST Pro Series recently, won four out of his six round-robin fixtures to qualify for the play-offs of Group 7.
In the last four, the three-time world champion beat David Gilbert 3-1 before repeating that scoreline against Joe Perry in the final.
The 46 year-old seems to have a strong affinity with short encounters of late, triumphing in the best-of-three Pro Series and now performing well in an event that has matches lasting five frames.
In the Championship League Winners’ Group draw, Williams will be competing against Judd Trump, John Higgins, Kyren Wilson, Zhou Yuelong, Ali Carter, and Graeme Dott in what is a high-quality field.
There is a top prize of £10,000 on offer, although the competitors have already won various amounts of money for frames won and playoffs reached throughout the 2021 edition.
For Wilson, Zhou, Carter, and Dott, it also provides them with an opportunity to land silverware and gain an invitation to the lucrative Champion of Champions next season.
Dott, Zhou, and Carter have all been denied victory in the final in the past and will be hoping to go one step further on this occasion.
Wilson, meanwhile, has already won a version of the Championship League this season, albeit it was played under a different guise and it carried rankings points.
World number one Trump is a record three-time champion, while Higgins won the tournament in consecutive campaigns in 2017 and 2018.
This is the last trophy that will be won before the season-ending World Snooker Championship gets under way in April.
Championship League Winners’ Group Draw
What is Championship League Snooker?
The Championship League has been an annual event on the snooker calendar since 2008, when Joe Perry beat Mark Selby to claim the first title.
Initially, it was set up as a means for players to play more regularly during a time in the sport when there weren’t many tournaments to compete in.
Since then, it has become a permanent fixture on the schedule with important implications, such as qualification for the Champion of Champions invitational.
Most editions of the Championship League, except for two during an unusual 2020, have followed the same pattern with seven groups of seven players in each providing seven winners who all advance to the Winners’ Group draw.
Every group starts with round-robin league play and the top four players progressing to the semi-finals, before a knockout phase is incorporated to determine the winning finalist.
There are various prize-money bonuses on offer for the player – from winning frames, reaching the play-off stages of each group, and for achieving the highest break.
A difficult event to predict because of the short format, Trump is still the favourite in the online sports betting markets and is as low as 7/4 to collect a record-extending fourth Championship League title.
Dott seems to be the outsider at around 11/1 but the Scot will be as dangerous as anyone in the line-up, especially if he can get off to a good start in the final group.
He has also come in for some support, which is likely to see his odds shorten on these sports betting sites that continue to offer odds on the biggest events in sport.
After Perry won the inaugural staging, Judd Trump bagged the first of three titles in 2009 with his maiden professional crown.
The Englishman also outlasted the competition in 2014 and 2016, while the 31 year-old was runner-up the last time around to Kyren Wilson.
As mentioned, Higgins emerged victoriously in successive years while Martin Gould is the only other multiple winner – etching his name onto the trophy in both 2013 and 2019.
Marco Fu, Ding Junhui, Matthew Stevens, and Stuart Bingham were among the winners in the earlier years, with Scott Donaldson and Luca Brecel representing a couple of the more recent champions.
Featured photo credit: CLSnooker