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Championship League Snooker 2021 Preview and Order of Play – Monday August 9

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John Higgins in action (credit:ImagineChina/SIPA USA/PA Images)

Championship League 2021: Day Eight preview and order of play – Higgins eyeing third crown

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O'Sullivan last missed The Masters in 2013 (credit:John Walton/PA Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan withdraws from 2021 Championship League Snooker

Yan held his nerve to see off Selby in Milton Keynes (Photo by China Images/PA)

Stage Two of 2021 Championship League Snooker gets under way in Leicester on Monday, with Groups G and H taking centre stage.

Phase One saw 128 players start out in the season’s opening ranking event last month, now just 32 remain in the running for the £20,000 top prize.

The field has now been split into eight groups of four players, with the eight group winners progressing to the two final groups on Friday.

Six-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan had been due to feature in Group H, but has withdrawn from the competition and is replaced by Mark Joyce.

Joyce, who finished runner-up to O’Sullivan in Group 32, will be looking to make the most of his unexpected second chance and kicks off with a clash against Shoot-Out semi-finalist Craig Steadman.

Steadman topped Group 29 ahead of Thepchaiya Un-Nooh by just a single frame, with both players having finished on five points.

Group H is headed by four-time ranking finalist David Gilbert as he looks to maintain his unbeaten record in this edition of the Championship League.

Gilbert came through Group 30 with three consecutive wins, overcoming Liam Highfield, Sanderson Lam and Jamie Wilson last week for the total loss of just one frame.

Gilbert starts his Stage Two campaign against 19-year-old Chang Bingyu – who was a surprise winner of Group 31 ahead of Pang Junxu and Luca Brecel.

Chang’s best performance in a ranking event to date saw him reach the Third Round of last year’s UK Championship, meaning qualification here would see him equal that run.

Group G is led by three-time ranking event winner Barry Hawkins – who has twice reached the overall Semi-Finals of the Championship League.

Hawkins came through Group 28 with seven points, winning his opening two games 3-0 before being held to a draw by Ben Woollaston.

The Hawk faces a tough opener against former Indian Open champion Matthew Selt – winner of Group 27 and a two-time Championship League semi-finalist.

A formidable Group G also houses reigning Masters Champion Yan Bingtao, who made an emphatic start to the new season at the Morningside Arena last week.

The world number ten stormed to three straight victories in Group 25 with top breaks of 114 and 130 along the way.

His Group G opener comes against a resurgent Cao Yupeng – a player making his return to the professional tour after serving a two-year ban for match-fixing.

The two-time ranking event finalist topped Group 26 with maximum points, seeing off Steven Hallworth, Gary Wilson and James Cahill.

The action gets under way from 12pm BST, with all matches to be contested over the best of five frames and available to watch live online.


Championship League Snooker 2021 Schedule

Monday August 9

Mark Joyce v Craig Steadman (Group H)
Barry Hawkins v Matthew Selt (Group G)

David Gilbert v Chang Bingyu (Group H)
Yan Bingtao v Cao Yupeng (Group G)

David Gilbert v Craig Steadman (Group H)
Yan Bingtao v Matthew Selt (Group G)

Mark Joyce v Chang Bingyu (Group H)
Barry Hawkins v Cao Yupeng (Group G)

Chang Bingyu v Craig Steadman (Group H)
Yan Bingtao v Barry Hawkins (Group G)

Mark Joyce v David Gilbert (Group H)
Matthew Selt v Cao Yupeng (Group G)