Barry Hawkins Negotiates Group 4 in Milton Keynes

Two players advanced from stage one as the competition continued at the Marshall Arena.

Barry Hawkins and Robert Milkins both made it through the opening group phase in the Championship League on Monday.

The Englishmen require two additional mini-league victories in order to reach the final at the end of October.

Hawkins won his first two matches in the round-robin to the loss of just one frame, beating Ben Hancorn 3-0 and Jackson Page 3-1.

With six points, the former World Championship runner-up was already guaranteed his qualification from top spot, leaving his 3-0 defeat to Sam Craigie later in the day as a mostly redundant outcome.

The fate of Milkins was determined by a hat-trick of 3-0 scorelines, two of which were in his favour as he pipped Jamie Jones on frame difference.

Milkins lost to the Welshman, who is competing in a professional event for the first time since returning from his ban, but crucially the “Milkman” delivered against both Chen Zifan and Gary Wilson.

Both Barry Hawkins and Robert Milkins have a while to wait before they rejoin the tournament, with 28 first-round group stages still to be completed in Milton Keynes.

Previously always an invitational event, the third edition of the Championship League in 2020 has been opened up to every professional player and will for the first time carry ranking points.

A total of 128 players will cue up in a unique format which incorporates a round-robin as well as short encounters that will last only four frames.

Because of the vastly increased field, this edition is set to take place over three separate weeks on the snooker calendar.

The first two weeks are effectively qualifiers for the third and final stint of action in late October that will ultimately provide the champion.

There are 32 groups at the outset comprising four players in each, with the 32 winners following the mini-league phase advancing to the second stage.

The first 16 groups will be contested this week, while the remaining 16 groups from phase one will undertake their fixtures at the end of September and into October.

Tour Championship winner Stephen Maguire and Ricky Walden are among those set to enter proceedings on Tuesday.

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