China’s 23-year-old Zhao Xintong secured a place in the second stage of the Snooker Championship League after finishing his first stage group matches with two wins and one loss in Milton Keynes, England on Thursday.
Zhao defeated amateur Oliver Brown 3-0 in the group opener and went on to beat Nigel Bond 3-1. The world no. 29 secured his top position in the group despite a loss to Liam Highfield 3-0, as the other three players of his group drew with each other in their encounters.
Zhao’s compatriots Lu Ning and Xu Si both competed in the other group on Thursday as David Gilbert edged them out with an advantage of the break.
Gilbert and Lu met in the last match of the group both with one win and one draw. The world No. 11 won the final frame to draw 2-2 with Lu but advanced by claiming the highest break of 98.
“I’m very lucky to get through, I didn’t play very well,” Gilbert was quoted by the tournament’s website.
The Championship League has been expanded to a full World Snooker Tour ranking event this season, featuring 128 players, in three stages over 21 days.
Stage One involves 32 groups of four players, with the player who tops each group progressing to Stage Two.
Stage One will be played across two blocks of eight days: September 13-20 and September 28-October 5.