PartyPoker Premier League – Event One
Embassy Theatre – Skegness
Group A: Ding Junhui 4-2 Shaun Murphy
Group B: Judd Trump 5-1 Stephen Lee
THE OPENING night of this year’s PartyPoker Premier League got underway in Skegness as Ding Junhui and Judd Trump began their campaigns with impressive victories.
Junhui edged out a top quality encounter against Shaun Murphy winning 4-2 in Group A of the tournament and Trump hit two century breaks in a thumping 5-1 win over Stephen Lee in the Group B match.
Despite Ding’s win it was Murphy who started the brighter of the two as a break of 81 saw him take the opening frame of this year’s competition.
Murphy looked like he was going to take a 2-0 lead but a miss on a red with the rest while on a break of 49 was to prove costly as Ding fought back and a superb clearance of 36 levelled the scores at 1-1.
Ding then led 2-1 after taking advantage from a poor safety from Murphy and hitting a frame-winning break of 82. But the China star could not hold on to his lead as the 2005 world champion levelled at 2-2 with a run of 63.
But in all-important fifth frame, it was Ding who guaranteed himself at least a point as breaks of 44 and 35 put him 3-2 ahead going into the final frame.
And last season’s Welsh Open champion managed to seal a 4-2 win with a break of 64 after getting a fortunate snooker in behind the blue at the start of the frame.
The attention then turned to tonight’s second match with ‘Ace in the Pack’ Judd Trump taking on Stephen Lee in the first Group B clash.
And it was a frustrating night for Lee who was left to consider what could have been after he missed crucial pots which could have seen him take to two of the opening three frames. Those misses were to proved very costly as Trump ended up winning by a huge margin.
A tight opening frame saw a dramatic ending with Lee only needing the final pink to take a 1-0 lead – but he surprisingly missed it down the side cushion. Trump then cleared up the two remaining colours to go ahead.
Last year’s UK Championship winner is renowned for his so-called ‘naughty’ snooker. And an extraordinary positional shot from the talented star which saw a long red sink into the pocket stunning cue power and the cueball screw back all the way to the balk area of the table for a pot on the brown to the middle pocket. That shot set up a break of 95 as Trump moved 2-0 ahead.
And the third frame saw another dramatic ending going all the way to the final black. Lee had a golden opportunity to get back into the match but missed the crucial black over the green pocket when it looked harder to miss. Trump then made no mistake to take the third frame. Lee could have won two of the first three frames but was instead 3-0 down.
The world-number 2 then sealed victory with the first century break of the competition as he fired a superb break of 121 to go a unasaillable four frames clear. Lee’s woes then continued into frame five as a bad miss on a red left Trump in again and went on to compile another century break of 113 to lead 5-0.
But the Wiltshire man, to his credit, hit a brilliant and hard-working break of 68 to avoid an embarrassing opening night whitewash defeat and end the night with one frame on the board.
The PartyPoker Premier League resumes on Thursday, September 6 in Biddulph, Staffordshire. The night will see world-number-1 Mark Selby take on Neil Robertson and Lee will hope to get back to winning ways when he faces Peter Ebdon.