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Snooker: Championship League back with competitive Group 6

Hot on the heels of the Masters, the Championship League swings back into action at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.

Five of the seven groups have already been completed but there are still two spots in the Winners' Group up for grabs. There is plenty of prize money on offer and there is also a place in the Champion of Champions for the winner.

There are seven groups, made up of seven players, and all matches are played over a best-of-five-frame distance. Each group is played in a round-robin format, with the top-four in each section moving onto the play-offs. The eventual victor advances to the Winners' Group and the three play-off players who failed to make the cut move into the next group.

World Snooker Rankings

1Mark Selby
2Judd Trump
3Ronnie O'Sullivan
4Neil Robertson
5Kyren Wilson
6John Higgins

There are no second chances for those finishing sixth and seventh in each section as they are eliminated from the competition.

Winners' Group taking shape

Liang Wenbo was the first cueman to book his place in the final showdown, after he defeated Jack Lisowski 3-1 to secure his spot in the next stage. The Chinese potter is 15/2 to claim the title.

Graeme Dott, who has a strong record in short-format events, was the next potter through. The Scot, rated a 13/2 chance for the title overall, made the final of this event two years ago and he still has the chance to go one better this term.

Zhao Xintong continued his good form with a commanding victory in Group 3 and he heads the title betting at 4/1. Stuart Bingham is 9/2 second-favourite after seeing off defending champion Kyren Wilson and four-time World Champion Mark Selby to book his spot in the business end of the event.

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As things stand, Scott Donaldson is the lowest-ranked player to make the Winners' Group and the Scot will be hoping for a confidence-boosting effort ahead of future ranking events.

What can we expect from Group 6?

A high-quality field has been amassed in Group 6 and it looks sure to be a competitive section. Yan Bingtao, Ding Junhui, Ricky Walden, Ali Carter, Kyren Wilson, Martin Gould and Jordan Brown are the cuemen battling it out for a spot in the Winners' Group.

Wilson is much-fancied to win Group 6, but it's an open heat with Bingtao and Ding among the others expected to do well.

Wilson looks sure to put up a good effort and he topped Group 4, before losing out to Bingham in the final. 'The Warrior' again made the playoffs in section 5, but this time it was Carter that stopped the Kettering potter from progressing.

Captain could take charge

'The Captain' made the final of this event back in 2013 and he may be a lively underdog when he takes on Bingtao, 'The Tiger' hasn't been in the best form of late and that was evident when the Chinese potter was beaten by Mark Williams in the first round of the Masters last week.

Gould may not have the flashy rankings of some in this section, but the Pinner potter has a superb record in this competition. Gould won the event in 2013 and 2019 and the 40-year-old also made the final in 2014. He could be worth a punt at 6/4 when he takes on Ricky Walden.

It's hard to know what to expect from the Chester cueman. Walden made the semi-final of the Northern Ireland Open earlier this season, but he has also lost in the first-round of the English Open and World Grand Prix.

Ding not in good shape

Ding is a superbly talented performer, but we have barely seen the Chinese sensation this season and it would require a lot of faith to support him this week. Ding has only played in two ranking events this term and he was beaten in the early stages of both of those tournaments.

Brown hasn't made the headlines this campaign, but the Antrim ace has been performing a little better than his results suggest. It's hard to forget Brown's excellent Welsh Open win last season and a return to that sort of form would certainly give him a chance of making the playoffs.

One thing is certain, it's a fiercely competitive section.

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