Robbie McGuigan through to second stage of BetVictor Championship League on ranking tournament debut

His Antrim club-mate Jordan Brown suffered an agonising exit

Robbie McGuigan
Robbie McGuigan has enjoyed a good start to his pro career (TAI_CHENGZHE)

ROBBIE McGuigan made a flying start to his rookie season as he topped Group Seven at the BetVictor Championship League in Leicester to qualify for the second stage of the season’s opening ranking event.

The promising 19-year-old from Antrim earned a place on the tour by winning the European Championship in March of this year and hopes to make an impact among the pro ranks.

Top seed Tom Ford withdrew from the group, leaving only three players in contention. McGuigan started with a 3-0 win over Sanderson Lam, and though he lost his second match 3-1 to Barry Pinches, he did enough to top the group on frame difference and also pocket at least £3,000 in prize money.

Jordan Brown could not have come much closer to joining his club-mate in the second stage, missing out by a single point.

He needed to win the fourth frame of his match against World Championship runner-up Jak Jones, competing as a top-16 player for the first time, by beating Jones’ top break of 88. He did win the frame to level the match at 2-2 but could only manage a break of 87, missing the second-last red

The pair had earlier had identical results against the group’s other two players – 2-2 with Antoni Kowalski and a 3-1 win over Bulcsu Revesz.

Cork’s Aaron Hill was also edged out on the high-break rule. He beat Oliver Lines and drew with Joe O’Connor and Harvey Chandler, but O’Connor’s 130 break was enough to see him top the standings, with Hill’s highest 74.

McGuigan will now be one of 32 group winners who will go into eight groups of four and play under the same rules between June 28 and July 1. Two of his opponents are already known – Welsh duo Jackson Page and Michael White – while the fourth member of the group will come from Group 26 of stage one, which will be played on Wednesday. The players in that group are Matthew Selt, Florian Nuble, Graeme Dott and Alexander Ursenbacher.

The eight group winners from stage two will be drawn into two groups of four for stage three on July 3 and the two winners of those groups will then contest the final on the same day.