Bingham Joins Selby in Coventry Semi-Finals

Two days into the 2013 Champions of Champions event and the line-up for the first of Saturday’s semi-finals is now known, with Stuart Bingham today joining yesterday’s qualifier Mark Selby in winning his two ‘group’ matches to progress.

Click below for a few thoughts on the event so far…

  • Click here to view all of the results from the Champion of Champions

While the increase in tournaments, such as the 128 man European Tour events over the course of the last few years has been a positive development for the professional snooker tour, there is nothing quite like the ‘big’ events and already, the Champion of Champions event in Coventry has the feel of one of those.

With the peerless Clive Everton back where he belongs in the commentary box, ably supported by the also excellent Neal Foulds and Alan McManus, ITV look to have successfully built upon their popular return to snooker last season at the Haikou World Open.

Again, their coverage so far of this event looks to have been well-received in the main, with the only exception being the somewhat awkward fact that the post-match loser (in tonight’s case Judd Trump), is required to sit in the TV studio, next to their victorious opponent.

While the coverage may be more basic than that of the BBC, the stripped back feel of it, focusing on actual analysis of the snooker, rather than other ‘off the wall’ features, continues to impress. For me it is important for there to be another snooker tournament on terrestrial television and I hope that the viewing figures at the end of the tournament will bear that out.

At the venue itself, crowd levels look to be relatively good, certainly nothing to rival the crowds that we have seen in cities such as Berlin and Antwerp, but healthy enough all the same. The arena as you can see above is excellent and the surprise tweak to the dress code, requiring players to wear long ties rather than bow ties, is an interesting, if for me ultimately inconsequential twist.

As for the snooker itself, I was impressed by Mark Selby’s performances yesterday to defeat both Shaun Murphy and Stephen Maguire, particularly coming so close after his European Tour success in Antwerp under 48 hours previously. A player who I had somehow not seen so far this season prior to this tournament, Maguire looked to be in relatively good shape and like Selby, looks to be warming up for one of the most important months of the snooker calendar.

Today, Stuart Bingham for long periods looked like the player who last year won the forerunner of this event, the Premier League, in such style as he defeated Ricky Walden and Judd Trump for the loss of just two frames. In particular, during the opening three frames of his match with Trump he played some fine snooker, stealing what would prove to be a crucial first frame, when Trump missed a frame ball red on 60.

Mark and Stuart will now meet in the first of Saturday’s semi-finals, while tomorrow will see Neil Robertson, Mark Allen, Martin Gould and Ali Carter battle it out to join them.

Are you enjoying the event? Let me know on Twitter: @prosnookerblog