Zhou Yuelong booked his place in the Championship League winners' group in March with a 3-2 win over four-times world champion John Higgins in the Group 1 final in Milton Keynes.
World number 21 Zhou had consigned Higgins to his only defeat in six group matches earlier on Tuesday boosted by a 110 break in the second frame of a 3-0 win – and emulated that success with a closing run of 131 in the deciding frame of the final.
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"John Higgins is my idol. I enjoy playing him. So it's great to play him two times. I can learn so much from him," said Zhou, who collected £6,400 for his efforts.
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“I played great over the two days. Three years ago I first played the Championship League and I won the first group then too."
Zhou takes his place in the final group on March 31-April 1, with the top four in Group 1 – Higgins, Graeme Dott, Stuart Bingham and Gary Wilson – joining Kyren Wilson, Matthew Selt and Scott Donaldson in Group Two which begins on Wednesday and concludes on Thursday.
The bottom two players in each group phase are eliminated which sees Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Michael Holt both drop out of the competition from Group 1.
Holt failed to win a match at the event as Un-Nooh prepares for his meeting with defending champion Bingham at the Masters on Monday evening.
Despite losing to Zhou, Higgins will be content with his form after rolling in breaks of 127 and 119 in a 3-1 win over fellow Scot Dott in the semi-finals.
Zhou enjoyed runs of 64, 89 and 73 in a 3-0 victory against 2015 world champion Bingham in the other semi-final.

Confirmed schedule

Group 1

January 4 - 12:30
  • John Higgins 3-2 Stuart Bingham
  • John Higgins 3-0 Gary Wilson
  • Stuart Bingham 3-2 Michael Holt
  • Michael Holt 1-3 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
  • Zhou Yuelong 2-3 Graeme Dott
  • Gary Wilson 2-3 Graeme Dott
January 4 - 18:00
  • John Higgins 3-1 Michael Holt
  • Michael Holt 1-3 Gary Wilson
  • Gary Wilson 3-2 Zhou Yuelong
  • Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 2-3 Zhou Yuelong
  • Stuart Bingham 3-0 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
  • John Higgins 3-2 Graeme Dott
January 5 - 12:30
  • Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 2-3 Graeme Dott
  • Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 3-2 Gary Wilson
  • Stuart Bingham 3-2 Gary Wilson
  • John Higgins 0-3 Zhou Yuelong
  • Stuart Bingham 2-3 Zhou Yuelong
  • Michael Holt 0-3 Zhou Yuelong
  • Michael Holt 1-3 Graeme Dott
January 5 - 18:00
  • Stuart Bingham 3-1 Graeme Dott
  • John Higgins 3-0 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Play-offs: January 5
  • John Higgins 3-1 Graeme Dott
  • Zhou Yuelong 3-0 Stuart Bingham
Final: January 5
  • Zhou Yuelong 3-2 John Higgins

Group 2

January 6-7
  • Match schedule TBC

Group 3

January 8-9
  • Match schedule TBC

Group 4

January 8-9
  • Match schedule TBC

Group 5

January 10-11
  • Match schedule TBC

Group 6

January 12-13
  • Match schedule TBC

Group 7

March 29-30
  • Match schedule TBC

Winners' group

March 31 - April 1
  • Match schedule TBC

Player list

  • John Higgins
  • Stuart Bingham
  • Mark Williams
  • Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
  • Gary Wilson
  • Zhou Yuelong
  • Graeme Dott
  • Kyren Wilson
  • David Gilbert
  • Scott Donaldson
  • Mark Selby
  • Neil Robertson
  • Barry Hawkins
  • Judd Trump
  • Yan Bingtao
  • Jack Lisowski
  • Ronnie O'Sullivan
  • Joe Perry
  • Ali Carter
  • Matthew Selt
  • Kurt Maflin
  • Michael Holt
  • Tom Ford
  • Anthony McGill
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