Carter in a League of His Own

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Ali Carter got his 2024/25 campaign off to the perfect start by beating Jackson Page 3-1 in the final of the season-opening the BetVictor Championship League in Leicester.

Carter, age 44, has shown excellent form over the past two seasons, winning the 2023 German Masters as well as reaching two other finals, and now takes his career tally of ranking titles to six, level with Ken Doherty, Stephen Maguire, Stuart Bingham and Kyren Wilson on the all-time list.

World number ten Carter banks £33,000 and earns a place in the Champion of Champions in November. It’s a fitting victory for the Essex cueman as he is the only player to have competed in all 23 editions of the Championship League since it was first staged in 2008, and he now holds the trophy for the first time.

Welshman Page was playing in his first final and the 22-year-old missed the chance to become the youngest ranking event winner since a 21-year-old Fan Zhengyi took the European Masters in 2022.

Page had first chance in the opening frame but made just 11 before missing a red to a top corner and Carter punished him with a break of 116. Back came Page with an 83 to level at 1-1, but Carter enjoyed a fluked red at the start of frame three to initiate a run of 96, and he then dominated frame four with a top break of 50 to seal the title.

Carter said: “I’m delighted, it’s a great start to the season. I felt very comfortable in the final and played well with a lot at stake. I have been working hard and I feel I am playing the best stuff of my career. I am trying to control my temperament, and getting better at it. Jackson is one of the young guns and has loads of potential.”

Carter dedicated his win to Mike Diggins, his friend and flying instructor who has had serious health problems.

Earlier in the group stage, Page opened with a 3-0 win over David Lilley, then drew 2-2 with Long Zehuang. In the last game of the group, he needed to avoid defeat against David Gilbert, and battled to a 2-2 draw to top the table.

In the other group, Carter came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Martin O’Donnell in his opening tie, making a break of 118 in the last frame, before beating Scott Donaldson 3-0. He still needed to beat Mark Williams in his last match, and fell 1-0 down but battled back for a 3-1 victory.