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Championship League Winners' Group preview: Mark Selby in the mix for Leicester title

After three months of baize battles, seven top potters head to Leicester’s Mattioli Arena to slug it out for the £10,000 winners prize and a place in the Champion of Champions competition.

The group-stage matches remain the best-of-five-frame games, with the top four cuemen progressing to the first-to-three semi-finals and final.

The final phase of the tournament promises to throw up some cracking action and we take a look at what we might expect to see in Leicester.

Jester hoping to have the last laugh

Mark Selby heads the Championship League outright betting at 3/1.

The Jester topped Group 2 of the first phase of the competition, winning four matches in a section containing Kyren Wilson, Chris Wakelin, Ali Carter, Gary Wilson, Matthew Selt and Ryan Day.

That wasn’t enough for the four-time world champion to progress to the final stages, after a 3-2 final defeat to Wakelin, but the Leicester cueman made no mistake in Group 3.

Selby again won four matches in the group stage of the event, before beating Wilson and Higgins, without dropping a frame, to reach this week’s showdown.

The Championship League form is certainly good enough to give the Jester a big chance of taking down the Leicester crown, but the 40-year-old has won only two major titles in the last two seasons and that raises questions about the favourite's chances.

Selby gets his tilt at the Champions League trophy underway with a clash against O’Connor at 11am on Tuesday.

Higgins hoping for more quick-fire glory

Higgins has won four invitational stagings of the Championship League and the Wizard of Wishaw has been crowned champion in four of the last seven runnings of this event.

That’s an incredible record, and although the Scot needed three cracks to make it through to tomorrow’s showdown, Higgins twice topped a section in the first phase of the event and played some seriously good snooker.

The four-time world champion again produced some top-level potting when making the semi-finals of the Welsh Open last month and, at 7/2 , could perhaps hold the most value of those cuemen at the head of the betting.

Higgins will be looking to get off to a winning start when he takes on Stuart Bingham at midday on Tuesday.

Championship League offering welcome respite for Robertson

Robertson has been one of snooker’s top performers for well over a decade, but the Aussie has endured the worst season of his career, since he became an established professional, and it’s difficult to know how the 4/1 shot will perform in Leicester.

The Thunder from Down Under qualified from section 4 in the first phase of the event, but the 2010 world champion only won six of his 12 group-stage matches and was taken to a final frame by Wilson when eventually qualifying for Winners Group.

Robertson has a string of first-round exits from ranking events this season and the free-flowing and power-scoring Aussie has looked a shadow of his former self.

Clearly, the 23-time ranking event winner has bags of class, but there is a lot to be taken on trust in Leicester this week.

Wilson out to be best of the rest

Wilson, Bingham, Wakelin and O’Connor complete the final field and the Warrior is another cueman who has been struggling to find his best form.

The Kettering potter looked to be returning to form, when making the last four of the German Masters last month, but the Warrior has since lost in the opening round of the Welsh Open.

Wilson had plenty of practice in the first phase of the Championship League, having contested six sections, before finally qualifying for the Winners Group. However, that may not be enough to see the 4/1 chance lift the invitational crown.

Former world champion Bingham needed only one opportunity to qualifying for the final stage of the Championship League and Ballrun is 9/1 to take down the crown.

Wakelin is an 11/1 shot, and O’Connor, who squeezed through on the final day of first phase action, is available at the same price.

This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.

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