It’s day 21 and there’ll finally be a champion crowned.
The final eight contenders have been confirmed as the Championship League finally enters its last phase at the Morningside Arena in Leicester on Friday.
A damp squib of a curtain-raiser for the 2021/22 campaign, the Championship League commenced with 128 competitors all the way back on July 18th.
An entire Summer Olympic Games has been staged in the meantime, and the players have been battling it out for one of snooker’s smallest prizes.
But a ranking title remains at stake, and by the end of Friday’s play there will at last be a name on the tournament’s roll of honour.
Stage Three follows a familiar pattern to Stages One and Two, whereby the remaining players are separated into groups of four.
Reigning champion Kyren Wilson continues his bid for an unprecedented third Championship League crown on the trot in Group 1 alongside Mark Allen, Tom Ford, and Chinese amateur Bai Langning.
Group 2, meanwhile, features David Gilbert, Ali Carter, Ryan Day, and Cao Yupeng – the latter competing in his first professional tournament since returning from a match-fixing ban.
Once more, each quartet will play everyone else in the group once under the usual round-robin format, with both winners advancing from the last eight to the Championship League final.
That duo will subsequently go head-to-head for glory over a best of five frames sprint, with an overall cheque worth £33,000 up for grabs.
Wilson, Allen, Carter, and Day all have experience with triumphing in events of this status, but it could be an opportunity for any one of the other four players to join the illustrious band of ranking event winners.
For Gilbert, in particular, this could be his golden chance after several near misses in the past, while Ford and Cao both also know the feel of missing out at the last hurdle.
Bai, still only 19 and invited as a top-up player, would become the first amateur to win a full ranking title should he proceed to upset the odds.
Live coverage continues on FreeSports and Matchroom.Live.
Click here to view the full draw (Times: CET)
Featured photo credit: WST