Zhao Xintong secured victory in Group 3 of the Championship League on Tuesday, winning all eight of his fixtures to get the new year off to the perfect start in Leicester.
The UK champion won his six round-robin fixtures to comfortably place in first place after the league phase, losing just four frames.
In the last four, the 24 year-old subsequently overcame Stuart Bingham 3-1 before holding off fellow Chinese competitor Xiao Guodong’s late rally in the final for a 3-2 success.
By winning Group 3, Zhao will now advance to the Championship League Winners’ Group that will take place next month at the Morningside Arena – joining Liang Wenbo and Graeme Dott.
Four more spots among the final seven are still available with Group 4 set to take place over the next couple of days.
Xiao, Bingham, world champion Mark Selby, and Lu Ning all get another crack at qualifying but Joe Perry and Ryan Day have been eliminated after finishing bottom of Group 3 with just one win apiece.
Former champions Judd Trump, Kyren Wilson, and Scott Donaldson all enter the fray as the newcomers to this year’s non-ranking version of the competition.
Click here for the Group 4 draw (Times: CET)
Featured photo credit: WST