Four-times world champion John Higgins lost 3-0 to an unbeaten Martin Gould in Championship League Group G, but still did enough to edge out the former German Masters winner for a final group spot.
Gould needed a win over Jamie Clarke to secure his progress after drawing 2-2 with Tom Ford earlier on Thursday and made knocks of 61 and 50 on his way to a 2-1 lead over the world number 98.
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But he broke down on a run of 48 as Clarke then rolled in a 54 to earn a 2-2 draw – and open the door for Higgins or Ford.
Higgins took full advantage as rapid efforts of 52 and 51 helped him to complete a 3-0 win over Ford in only 45 minutes. With six points, he finished one ahead of ‘Pinner Potter’ Gould.
“Martin will be kicking himself,” said Higgins. “He was 2-1 in front and on a good break and if he wins that frame he is through, so Jamie did me and Tom a big favour coming back to win that frame.
“I went and played ok, missed a couple, but I am over the moon to get through. Once I lost 3-0 to Martin I was thinking that would be me out, so I am happy to be through.
“Any eight of us could win it. It would be lovely to get my third Championship League title.”
Former Masters finalist Joe Perry completed a 3-1 win over Tian Pengfei 3-1 and a 3-0 victory over Li Hang respectively before a closing break of 138 was enough to earn a 2-2 draw against Mark Davis and see him top Group H on seven points.
The final day action begins at 12.30pm (GMT) on Friday with world number one Judd Trump, Mark Selby, Zhou Yuelong and Zhao Xintong in Group 1. Higgins, Perry, Kyren Wilson and Ken Doherty are in Group 2.
The two group winners will contest a best-of-five frame final to decide the Championship League winner, the third ranking event of the season.
The prize fund is £328,000 with the tournament winner in line to collect a cheque for £33,000 and a place in the Champion of Champions next week if needed.
- Judd Trump 2/1
- Mark Selby 7/2
- Kyren Wilson 5/1
- John Higgins 5/1
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