Aaron Davies went undefeated as he topped Group 14 of the 2022 Vinny.co.uk Ultimate Pool Champions League and qualified for the last 16 stage of the live televised event.
Davies was the seed for the group, but he faced a tricky assignment with one of the most keenly contested quartets in this opening phase which also featured fellow Ultimate Pool professionals Craig Lakin and Hiten Patel, and recent Challenger Series event winner Neil Brittain.
The evening in Newcastle-under-Lyme began with one of the matches of the tournament so far, as Lakin ousted Brittain 4-3 with just seconds to go on the clock. Lakin initially led 2-0 but a missed 8-ball in the third frame was a catalyst for Brittain in claiming three consecutive frames, before Lakin bounced back for the points.
A semi-finalist in this event last year, Davies drew 2-2 with Patel as both players picked up a point. Patel – a recent semi-finalist at Pro Series 3 in Birmingham – stayed out in the arena for the next game, although it was qualifier Brittain who took both points with a 4-1 victory.
Match Four on Monday nights is often very important, and it proved to be once again as former world junior champion Davies produced consecutive break and reverse clearances on his way to defeating Lakin 3-1 and moving to the top of the table.
Going into the final round of fixtures, only two points separated all four players in the live table, although Patel could not mathematically qualify. Former British amateur champion Lakin kept his hopes alive with 4-1 win over Patel to go top of the league on four points, however, destiny was out of his hands and the best he could hope for was a 6-red shootout.
There were several permutations in the last tie of the night – a win for Davies meant he was through; a draw would see a shootout between Davies and Lakin, and a win for Brittain would see a shootout between himself and Lakin.
With a little bit of help from his opponent who missed opportunities in frames three and four, Davies kept his cool to register a 3-1 win and finish top of the pile on five points.
Of the 14 groups completed so far, the seed player has advanced in nine of them.
In a change to the schedule – due to player availability – next week’s group (Monday 16th May) will be the first of the last 16 groups featuring Christophe Lambert, David McNamara, Declan Brennan and Dom Cooney.