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Snooker: Championship League 5 preview

Stage two of the Championship League gets underway on Monday and there are eight spots in phase three up from grabs this week.

Group E and F get the action underway and Mark Williams and Stephen Maguire are the headline acts.

Williams cruised through to this round, winning all three of his matches, losing just two frames and knocking in a 140 break. It's no surprise to that the Welsh Potting Machine is even-money to come out on top once more.

Maguire came through a competitive section, but Mags only won one of his three games and the Scot will need more if he is to progress to the third phase.

WhatChampionship League Snooker
WhereMorningside Arena, Leicester
When12:00 Monday, 25th July 2022
How to watchFreesports & Premier League 2
OddsGroup E: Mark Williams 1/1, Stephen Maguire 15/8

How does the Championship League work?

The event started on the 28th of June and continues until the 29th July. The tournament is broken down into three rounds of round-robin groups consisting of four top cuemen.

There were 128 players competing in the opening phase of the tournament, and with one winner progressing from each group, the field has been whittled down to just 32 potters

Eight more group winners will progress into the final two pools, and at the end of all of that two players will contest a best-of-five frame final and one will be crowned Championship League champion.

Defending champion Dave Gilbert successfully navigated a path into the second group stage of the competition and the Tamworth cueman will be in action this week.

What can we expect from Group E?

Williams was in brilliant form when topping his group and it may be a case of more of the same from the Welshman. Sprog dominated the field in the previous round, winning all three matches and losing just two racks along the way.

Best-of-four frame matches don't give a great deal of time for big breaks to be made and the fact that Williams was able to crush in a 140 knock indicates what good form the Welsh Potting Machine is in.

Maguire is a capable performer and the Scot can prove a handful for anyone on his day. Mags battled his way through the opening phase of this year’s event, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see an improved showing from the 2004 UK Champion.

Aaron Hill produced the best performance of his career to make it to this round of the Championship League, but it was a pretty weak section that the Irishman progressed from and he has more on his plate in this line up.

Lu Ning completes the section and the Chinese potter is likely to be full of confidence, after winning all three of his first-phase matches.

The 28-year-old dropped just two frames and there was a nice 135 break along the way. Ning is a capable performer and he will be of betting interest when he takes on Hill.

How does Group F shape up?

Jimmy Robertson is a classy operator and the Bexhill potter made two ranking event semi-finals last season. Of course, J Rob hasn't won bags of titles, but Robertson is a supremely gifted break-builder and he can compete with the best the baize has to offer when on song.

Hossein Vafaei's results have gone to a new level since the Iranian relocated to the UK and that was highlighted when he took down the Shootout crown last year. Vafaei is a solid operator and he looks to have a strong chance in this field.

Lyu Haotian has already made a ranking event final in his young career, but this stalled a little last season.

The Chinese potter didn’t have a great campaign, but he beat the likes of Graeme Dott to reach the second phase of this event and that should be a confidence booster.

Michael Judge doesn't have a tour card anymore and the Irishman looks to have his work cut out to make it to the next stage.

Championship League 5 predictions

Williams is favourite to progress from Group E and he really does look the standout performer. Age is showing no signs of slowing down the Welsh Potting Machine, and if he shows up in the same form as in the previous round of this event, he is going to be very difficult to stop.

Group F may be more competitive. Judge looks outclassed, but the other three potters have realistic chances.

Perhaps Robertson's scoring power can see the Bexhill cueman edge out his rivals and there could be a little advantage of not playing chief rival Vafaei until his final game of the section.

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