The Englishman is bidding to go far in the event in his home city.
Tom Ford left it late but finally qualified for the next phase of Championship League Snooker on Thursday at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.
After only accumulating two points from his opening couple of fixtures, the 37 year-old needed a win from his last round-robin match against Simon Lichtenberg to top the mini league standings.
Lichtenberg, who had earlier beaten amateur Simon Blackwell and drawn with women’s world champion Reanne Evans, led with four points and only needed to tie his game with Ford to advance.
At 1-1 in their contest, it looked as though the German was going to seal the pivotal frame that he required but missed a tricky red along the top cushion.
Ford pounced, and following a tense finale won the remaining two frames for a 3-1 victory and a passage through to Stage Two of the competition.
In Group 10, China’s Bai Langning qualified with a string of strong performances that included consecutive 3-0 triumphs against David Grace and Ben Fortey.
Bai is competing as an amateur this season having dropped off the tour at the end of the last campaign, but the 19 year-old’s status is quite misleading considering he missed the majority of the 2020/21 term as a result of issues surrounding the pandemic.
On Friday, two more players will be attempting to join Bai Langning and Tom Ford in Stage Two of this season’s Championship League Snooker.
A competitive looking Group 12 sees Anthony McGill go up against Mark Davis, Yuan Sijun, and amateur Billy Castle, while Group 31 involves former champion Luca Brecel, Chinese duo Pang Junxu and Chang Bingyu, and tour rookie Dean Young.
“To be honest, I’ve been absolutely dreadful. I don’t deserve to go through!”
Tom Ford didn’t hold back on his performance today 😳
— BetVictor Championship League Snooker (@CLSnooker) July 22, 2021
What is the Championship League?
The Championship League has been on the calendar in some way, shape, or form since 2008, but it’s only in the last couple of years that it has been intermittently staged as a ranking event.
On this occasion, there are three stages to the month-long competition with 128 players initially split into 32 round-robin groups comprising four players in each.
The 32 group winners advance to Stage Two, before the next eight group winners determine the competitors who feature in Stage Three, with all matches lasting just four frames.
The two players who win their third and final groups will subsequently contest the outright final, with the winner set to earn £33,000 from the total prize fund.
Where to Watch the Championship League
There will be two tables available to watch on each day of the group stages, with the snooker available across Ireland and the UK on FreeSports in addition to the Matchroom.Live’s snooker streaming service.
There are various other TV broadcast options around the world, which you can view by clicking here.
Click here to view the full draw (Times: CET)
Featured photo credit: WST