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Championship League Snooker Groups 3, 4 & 5 preview: Kyren Wilson expected to impress

The Championship League takes centre stage on the snooker circuit this week with Groups 3, 4 and 5 taking place at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.

Stuart Bingham and Chris Wakelin landed the opening two events and, in the process, sealed their spot in the winners' group table, which takes place at the beginning of March.

There are five more groups still to be played in order to confirm the seven finalists and there are some heavy hitters in action this week, including German Masters winner Judd Trump and former world champions Neil Robertson, Mark Selby and John Higgins.

The seven players competing in Group 3 across Monday and Tuesday are confirmed and one of Robertson, Selby, Higgins, Kyren Wilson, Gary Wilson, Xiao Guodong and Tom Ford will advance to the winners group.

The next four highest finishers behind the Group 3 champion will get another shot for glory in Group 4, where Trump, Barry Hawkins and Ricky Walden are waiting on Wednesday and Thursday.

The same process applies in Group 5, with the four highest-ranked players from Group 4 stepping in to face David Gilbert, Fan Zhengyi and Joe Perry on Friday and Saturday.

Warrior could make it third time lucky

Having competed in Group 1 and Group 2, Kyren Wilson will be bidding to make it third time lucky in Group 3 and there is every chance that he can do just that.

The Warrior finished second in the Group 1 table behind Ryan Day, winning five of his six matches to advance to the semi-finals.

Wilson lost to eventual champion Bingham 3-0 in the last four which saw him advance into Group 2, where he finished runner-up yet again.

The Kettering cueman won four of his six matches to play second fiddle to Selby, losing out only on frame difference, before suffering a semi-final exit to Chris Wakelin, who triumphed 3-1.

However, it is hard to fault that consistency and nine wins from a total of 14 matches over this snappy first-to-three format is an excellent effort.

That suggests Wilson could go well again in Group 3 and he will be buoyed by his recent run to the semi-final of the German Masters, where he defeated Robertson and Zhengyi before bumping into Chinese sensation Si Jiahui.

One of Wilson’s biggest challenges may stem from Group 2 table-topper Selby, who will be happy to see the event held at the Morningside Arena which is in his home city of Leicester.

But it would be hard to ignore the claims of Higgins, who has excelled in this event having been crowned champion on four occasions including back-to-back years.

In his advancing years, these shorter matches tend to play to the Scotsman’s strengths and he is holding his form well, highlighted by his quarter-final run at the recent German Masters.

On the whole, though, it is a competitive group featuring three world champions in Selby, Higgins and Robertson, as well as a former World Championship runner-up Wilson.

Gary Wilson has made a semi-final at the Crucible and has claimed back-to-back Scottish Open titles, while Guodong and Ford have both made multiple ranking event finals.

That shows the strength in depth but the Warrior has proved himself to be comfortable under these conditions and he is in decent touch, so could take some stopping.

All eyes on terrifying Trump

Trump has been the only player that has looked like keeping tabs on Ronnie O’Sullivan this season and the Juddernaut could take some stopping in Group 4 of the Championship League, which comes from the Morningside Arena on Wednesday and Thursday.

Fresh from his German Masters success on Sunday, Trump should be oozing with confidence as he comes into what is an important stage of the campaign.

The Bristolian has now won four ranking event titles this season, following on from successes at English Open, Wuhan Open and Northern Ireland Open, while he also finished runner-up at the World Grand Prix and Champion of Champions.

Trump is a three-time Championship League winner and was runner-up to Higgins last season, so will be determined to go one better.

The 34-year-old could be difficult to dislodge and, although his competition looks set to be fierce, it would be difficult to envisage him finishing out of the top four on current form.

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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