Pro Challenge Series 2009/10: Milkins makes his mark with Event Three triumph

Heading into the final day of action at the third event of the 2009/10 Pro Challenge Series at the Willie Thorne Snooker Club in Leicester, it’s unlikely many people would have correctly predicted the way things panned out. It was all meant to be about 2008 Shanghai Masters winner Ricky Walden and recent Premier League headline-grabber Judd Trump, but world number 55 Robert Milkins and tour wildcard Joe Jogia hadn’t read the script. Click below to see how the unfancied duo turned the form guide on its head, and how Milkins took the honours in the battle of the underdogs…

Having lost just three frames in his four matches to date, racking up six century breaks on the way (four of those in yesterday’s remarkable quarter-final win over Jamie Cope), Ricky Walden was a hot favourite to mark his 27th birthday with presents in the form of the Event Three silverware and the £5000 winners cheque, not least because his semi-final opponent was the unheralded Joe Jogia.

Winner of the 08/09 PIOS, Jogia has had a decent start to the season, winning his first match in every ranking tournament so far and having particularly good runs in qualifying for Shanghai and the Masters (where he picked up a notable win over Joe Swail), but was still given little chance against Walden, who represented a big step up in quality from previous opponents. Nonetheless, the confidence acquired from four wins over the first two days clearly paid major dividends for the local pro, who stunned his more illustrious opponent with a 5-0 mauling.

The result of the other semi-final was perhaps a little less surprising, with Judd Trump having not had the best of starts to the season (Premier League win over Ronnie O’Sullivan aside) and Robert Milkins having shown some impressive form in the early stages of the campaign – he sits 26th in the latest one-year rankings, a sizeable improvement on his current official ranking of 55, and reached the last eight at the recent Grand Prix. That said, Trump is still rightly regarded as one of the sport’s brightest young talents and was very much the favourite to reach the final, so Milkins edging it in a final frame decider was still very much a turn-up for the books.

So that set up a thoroughly unlikely final: Milkins vs Jogia, for the right to join Stephen Maguire and Ken Doherty on the Pro Challenge Series Roll of Honour for 2009/10. Milkins set the tone for what was to be a relatively high-scoring final with a terrific 137 break in the opening frame, just falling short of Walden’s tournament best of 140, but was pegged back by Jogia, which was to become something of a recurring theme. Milkins established leads of 2-1 and 3-2 before his gritty opponent fought back to level things up, a run of 69 in frame six the Leicester man’s highest break of the final.

Milkins ahead edged ahead in the seventh frame, his second century of the match earning what was to finally be a decisive lead. While Jogia made a brave effort to regain parity in a scrappy frame eight, it was Milkins who took it to get himself over the line and secure what he would later describe as the best tournament victory of his career.

“I was a fool to myself for a while because I didn’t work hard enough, but everything is turning around now,” the champ told “Considering the field, this is definitely the best tournament I’ve won. These Pro Challenge Events are brilliant, they are great match practice and give extra chances to the players to earn money.”

His vanquished opponent was happy enough with how his week had gone and echoed his fellow finalist’s views on the Pro Challenge Series: “I just missed one or two balls today but I’ve enjoyed the whole week and I played well. I think these Pro Challenge Events are fantastic and a lot of the players I’ve spoken to agree with that.”

So it’s Milkins who takes the £5000 winner’s cheque, as well as a further boost to his swelling confidence, while Jogia takes him £2500 as runner-up. Beaten semi-finalists Trump and Walden each get £1500 for their efforts, with the latter topping up his winnings with the £500 high break prize for the 140 he knocked in against Mike Dunn in the first round.

The Pro Challenge Series continues with event four running from January 4th-6th at a venue yet to be decided – news of that here as and when it’s made known.


F – Joe Jogia 3-5 Robert Milkins


SF1 – Ricky Walden 0-5 Joe Jogia

SF2 – Judd Trump 4-5 Robert Milkins