Robert Milkins got his new snooker season off to a positive start by topping Group 8 of the Championship League on Friday.
The reigning Welsh Open champion enjoyed a terrific 2022/23 campaign in which he landed a £150,000 bonus as the BetVictor Series money leader.
Milkins, who is currently ranked number 13 in the world and just shy of his career-high of number 12, went undefeated at the Morningside Arena.
A 3-0 defeat of Alex Taubman was followed by a 2-2 draw with Muhammad Asif in Leicester, leading to a crunch tie with Dominic Dale.
The latter looked to be in control of the group when he won his opening couple of fixtures and required just a point from his final tie.
But Milkins denied his fellow two-time ranking event winner with a comprehensive 3-0 win towards the end of the day’s play.
Sam Craigie, meanwhile, had a similar route through to the next phase of the competition, which represents the 2023/24 season-opening ranking event.
Craigie beat Fergal O’Brien and Ahmed Aly Elsayed with whitewash displays to move to within the brink of qualification from Group 23.
The 29 year-old Englishman needed just a point from his third round-robin match against Fan Zhengyi.
That’s exactly what he got as he won two out of the first three frames en route to a 2-2 draw with the young Chinese competitor.
Robert Milkins and Sam Craigie will feature again in Championship League Snooker in just over a week’s time when Stage Two gets under way.
Stage One continues on Saturday with two more groups and eight new players set to enter the fray.
In Group 20, Matthew Selt will be joined by James Cahill, Andres Petrov, and Sydney Wilson, while Group 25 will feature World Championship semi-finalist Si Jiahui, Mark Joyce, Mohamed Ibrahim, and Haydon Pinhey.
Stage 1 draw
|Group 1 (July 10)||Group 2 (July 11)||Group 3 (June 26)||Group 4 (July 12)|
|Michael Holt||Judd Trump||Shaun Murphy|
|Scott Donaldson||Xu Si||Tian Pengfei|
|Rod Lawler||Jimmy White||Lukas Kleckers|
|Alfie Burden||Reanne Evans||Ashley Carty||Andrew Pagett|
|Group 5 (June 29)||Group 6 (June 30)||Group 7 (July 6)||Group 8 (July 7)|
|Kyren Wilson||Mark Williams||Robert Milkins|
|Group 9 (July 14)||Group 10 (June 28)||Group 11 (June 27)||Group 12 (July 12)|
|Gary Wilson||Barry Hawkins|
|John Astley||Michael White||Zhang Anda|
|Mink Nutcharut||Martin O’Donnell||Sanderson Lam|
|Ma Hailong||Jamie O’Neill|
|Group 13 (July 13)||Group 14 (July 14)||Group 15 (July 4)||Group 16 (July 3)|
|David Gilbert||Ricky Walden|
|Yuan Sijun||David Lilley||Matthew Stevens||Ben Woollaston|
|Sean O’Sullivan||Peng Yisong|
|Ishpreet Singh||Liu Hongyu|
|Group 17 (July 5)||Group 18 (July 11)||Group 19 (July 10)||Group 20 (July 8)|
|Zhou Yuelong||Joe Perry||Noppon Saengkham||Matthew Selt|
|Jamie Clarke||Mark Davis||James Cahill|
|Andy Lee||Jenson Kendrick||Andres Petrov|
|Stuart Carrington||Ross Muir||Sydney Wilson|
|Group 21 (June 27)||Group 22 (June 28)||Group 23 (July 7)||Group 24 (July 6)|
|Chris Wakelin||Pang Junxu|
|Robbie Williams||Sam Craigie|
|Group 25 (July 8)||Group 26 (July 5)||Group 27 (June 30)||Group 28 (July 4)|
|Si Jiahui||Jak Jones||Anthony Hamilton|
|Haydon Pinhey||Barry Pinches|
|Group 29 (June 29)||Group 30 (June 26)||Group 31 (July 13)||Group 32 (July 3)|
|Thepchaiya Un-Nooh||Cao Yupeng||Xiao Guodong|
|Daniel Wells||Ian Burns|
Featured photo credit: WST