Mark Selby booked his place in the last eight of the Championship League, but Shaun Murphy saw his hopes ended by Zhou Yuelong in Milton Keynes. Zhou topped Group B of the last-32 group stage with Selby remaining undefeated as winner of Group D on Tuesday.
Three-times world champion Selby produced two 3-0 wins over Rory McLeod and Jamie O'Neill respectively at the Marshall Arena with a closing 2-2 draw against Graeme Dott enough to clinch top spot, two points clear of Dott, who needed a victory to deny the former world number one.
2006 world champion Dott began the group decider with a run of 84 before Selby responded with knocks of 128 and 69 to secure a 2-1 lead. Dott earned a draw with a closing break of 71.
Selby had earlier compiled breaks of 118, 118, 58, 109 and 68 in his opening two group victories.
"This format. The way it is, every group is tough. Just playing four frames you can lose to anyone," said Selby, who will face world number one Judd Trump in the closing group stage. "It is the flip of a coin for me so it doesn't matter who is in the group."
- Judd Trump outguns Barry Hawkins to reach Championship League last eight
- Judd Trump strengthens position as snooker's undisputed world number one
- O'Sullivan withdraws from Championship League over bubble trouble
Murphy lost 3-1 to Dominic Dale with a 3-1 win over Matthew Selt and 2-2 draw with world number 24 Zhou not enough to see him join Selby in the final day's action on Friday.
Zhou completed a 3-1 win over Selt – including a break of 119 – and a stunning 3-0 victory against Dale that saw him hit breaks of 134, 122 and 134 as the Welshman failed to register a point before Zhou went on to earn the draw he needed against the 2005 world champion Murphy.
World Championship runner-up Kyren Wilson takes on Mark King, Scott Donaldson and David Gilbert in Group F on Wednesday with four-times world champion John Higgins meeting Jamie Clarke, Martin Gould and Tom Ford in Group G on the final day of the last-32 stage on Thursday.
The tournament concludes on Friday with the eight group winners progressing to two groups of four – ABCD and EFGH winners make up the two last-eight sections – with the winner of each group contesting the final over the best of five frames.
The prize fund is £328,000 with the tournament winner in line to collect a cheque for £33,000 and a place in the Champion of Champions if needed.
- Judd Trump 7/4
- Mark Selby 7/2
- Kyren Wilson 9/1
- John Higgins 10/1