Party Poker Premier League – Event 6,
Ding Junhui 4-2 Mark Selby
John Higgins 4-2 Stephen Lee
MALVERN turned snooker loopy last night (Thursday) as four of the world’s top players strolled into town.
Top-bill snooker returned to the grand setting of Malvern Theatres for the first time in three years as world-number-one Mark Selby took on Ding Junhui and four-times world champion John Higgins played Stephen Lee in the PartyPoker.com Premier League.
Ding and Higgins both claimed wins on the night and made significant steps towards reaching the semi-finals of the competition. As well as gaining wins both stars cashed in as well winning £4,000 in prize money during the process.
And China superstar Ding showed the Malvern crowd his world-class ability from the very start with a fluent break of 96 to take the first frame.
Ding then increased his lead winning a scrappy second frame before another hard-fought frame saw him take a 3-0 lead at the halfway mark and guarantee himself a point.
A break of 79 then sealed victory for Ding going 4-0 ahead. But The Jester From Leicester was able to take something away from his visit to Worcestershire by winning the final two frames and earning £2,000 in prize money.
But it was too little too late for Selby as far as the match was concerned as Ding moved to the top of Group A with two wins out of his first three games.
Two straight defeats for Selby in this year’s Premier League left him rooted to the bottom of the group and little chance of advancing to the semi-finals.
The event, which was also shown live in front of the Sky Sports cameras, saw the crowd give a fantastic reception for John Higgins who came to town fresh from winning the Shanghai Masters last month.
But the Scot found it tough going to start off with in his Group B match against Stephen Lee losing two of the first three frames.
Higgins then showed the crowd why he has four World Championship titles to his name with some stunning potting as breaks of 72 and 57 helped him take a 3-2 ahead of the final frame.
And the best frame was saved to last as Higgins claimed a 4-2 victory by potting the final and deciding black ball.
In a dramatic finale, Lee was trailing 56-59 and needed to pot both pink and black to draw the match. But the world-number-seven badly messed up position on the black while potting the pink and could only play safe – meaning a return to the table for Higgins.
After a mini safety exchange, Higgins then sunk in the black to seal his second consecutive win in the tournament after his opening win in mid-September.
Two wins out of two gives Higgins a great chance of reaching the Premier League semi-finals. Lee, however, has lost all three of his matches so far.
The Premier League resumes next Thursday (October 18) in Cornwall as Australian Neil Robertson takes on Stuart Bingham and Lee will hope to get a win on the board when he plays Mark Allen.