Race to the Crucible: Live Blog

  • 27th March 2017
  • The Crucible seedings race 2016: two to go

The 2017 China Open is now underway in Beijing, with the top 16 players who will automatically qualify for the venue stages of this year’s Betfred World Championship and their seeding positions to be determined by the conclusion of the tournament next Sunday.

For a summary of all of the permutations prior to the tournament up and down the ranking list, check out my comprehensive preview here, or alternatively scroll down to see how who can still break into the top 16 with a run this week and also how the main draw for the Crucible would be as the table currently stands…

Latest qualification standings as of 02/04/2017:

16th – Ryan Day – £209,087 (r128)
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17th – Mark Williams – £199,975 (F)
18th – Martin Gould – £194,975 (r32)
19th – Joe Perry – £193,700 (r64)

20th – David Gilbert – £188,650 (r64)
21s – Mark King – £188,475 (r64)
22nd – Ricky Walden – £187,400 (r32)
23rd – Michael Holt – £175,500 (r32)
24th – Stephen Maguire – £140,775 (QF)

25th – Anthony Hamilton – £134,925 (r128)
26th – Alan McManus – £132,850 (r64)

Crucible draw

The position of the seeds in the draw at the 2017 World Championship will also be determined following the conclusion of the China, in accordance with the positions of the top 16 ranked players following the China Open.

The draw currently would look like this (updated 02/04/2017):

Mark Selby (1) / Qualifier

Ryan Day (16) / Qualifier

Neil Robertson (9) / Qualifier

Marco Fu (8) / Qualifier

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Shaun Murphy (5) / Qualifier

Ronnie O’Sullivan (12) / Qualifier

Liang Wenbo (13) / Qualifier

Ding Junhui (4) / Qualifier

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Stuart Bingham (3) / Qualifier

Kyren Wilson (14) / Qualifier

Mark Allen (11) / Qualifier

John Higgins (6) / Qualifier

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Barry Hawkins (7) / Qualifier

Ali Carter (10) / Qualifier

Anthony McGill (15) / Qualifier

Judd Trump (2) / Qualifier

Sunday Blog

16:36 – Mark Williams falls narrowly short of securing an automatic seeding for the World Championship as he loses a thrilling final 10-8 to world number one Mark Selby in Beijing.

The result means that Williams will be seeded 17th for Sheffield and so must come through three qualifying matches at Ponds Forge if he is to return to the Crucible Theatre once again, while Ryan Day holds on to the 16th and final seeding position.

Saturday Blog

10:24 – With his 6-1 victory against Hossein Vafaei, double world champion Mark Williams surges from 22nd to 17th in the Race to the Crucible, knowing that victory in tomorrow’s final will see him deny Ryan Day of the final qualifying spot for Sheffield.

Victory would in fact see him climb as high as 15th, with both Day and Shoot Out winner Anthony McGill within range.

Friday Blog

15:10 – And then there was just one remaining chaser as Stephen Maguire falls 5-1 to world number one Mark Selby, meaning that the Scot will now have to come through at Pond Forge if he is to extend his run of appearances at the Crucible Theatre in 2017.

10:18 – An emphatic 5-1 victory for Mark Williams against former world champion Shaun Murphy means that the Welshman is now just wins away from dramatically claiming a place at the Crucible, not to mention lifting a 19th career-ranking event title.

Perhaps surprisingly, next up he will face Hossein Vafaei in the semi-finals, after the Iranian stunned world number two and arguably the tour’s in-form play Judd Trump this afternoon with a 5-3 win in Beijing.

Later on, Stephen Maguire faces Mark Selby as the other player remaining in the tournament who can still break into the top 16 this week.

In respect of the tour survival battle, victory for Vafaei meanwhile is a crucial one as it sees him climb up into the top 64 on the provisional seeding list at the expense of Robin Hull. The good news for Hull at least is that if he were to finish the season outside of the top 64, he would at least be strongly placed to earn a fresh two-year tour card via the one-year list:

Updated 02/04/2017

  1. Robin Hull – £32,375
  2. Akani Songsermsawad – £25,500
  3. Rhys Clark – £24,425
  4. Ross Muir – £23,000
  5. Nigel Bond – £21,500
  6. Noppon Saengkham – £20,550
  7. Allan Taylor – £20,237
  8. Rod Lawler – £19,712

Thursday Blog

10:01 – Mark Williams just about remains in the top 16 chase after he came back from 4-1 down to defeat old foe John Higgins 5-4 at the last 16 stage of the China Open this morning. The Welshman remains one of just two players who can still overtake Ryan Day by the end of the week and will face Shaun Murphy in tomorrow’s quarter-finals.

Wednesday Blog

12:39 – Ryan Day’s hopes of hanging on to the final automatic spot at the Crucible were handed a significant boost today after closest chaser Martin Gould suffered a 5-3 defeat to Tian Pengfei at the last 32 stage in China.

Coupled with defeat for Michael Holt to Mark Williams in the same session, the result means that there are now just three players remaining in the draw who can still break into the top 16 this week, the closest being Ricky Walden who must reach the final, while Williams and Stephen Maguire would need to win the title.

Further down the list, defeat for Mark Davis was another boost to Tom Ford’s prospects of retaining a top 32 spot (important for Sheffield as he would be guaranteed to avoid the remaining players in the 17-32 bracket in the final qualifying round).

16:21 – Another big result this session in the Race to the Crucible as despite having lead 3-0 and 4-1, Ricky Walden has lost 5-4 on the black to Andrew Higginson, meaning that he now cannot break into the world’s top 16 prior to the cut-off for the World Championship.

Victory for Stephen Maguire against Fergal O’Brien on the other hand means that both he and Mark Williams are the final two players who can spoil things for Ryan Day, each needing the title in order to do so.

Tuesday Blog

14:29 – Day two in Beijing and with a 5-0 whitewash of Gareth Allen, five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan has moved back above Liang Wenbo into 12th position in the Crucible seedings race. In fact, Liang suffered a surprising defeat at the hands of Rory McLeod, meaning that he cannot now improve upon his current position of 13th, with Kyren Wilson still able to overtake him with a deep run this week.

Elsewhere, Martin Gould kept his hopes alive of a seeding for Sheffield with a 5-1 win against wildcard Fan Zhengyi, the Pinner Potter needing to reach the semi-finals this week if he is to avoid the need to come through the qualifying rounds at Ponds Forge.

Michael Holt was another to maintain his outside chance of qualification with a win against Jimmy White today, while Alan McManus exited the race with defeat in Beijing.

Meanwhile, a number of people have been asking for the latest position on the one-year list, in respect of the battle for tour survival which will ultimately be decided next month in Sheffield. The latest standings, including players not forecast to finish inside of the top 64 on the two-year ranking list and not on the first year of a tour card is:

Updated 29/03/2017

  1. Hossein Vafaei – £27,000
  2. Akani Songsermsawad – £25,500
  3. Rhys Clark – £24,425
  4. Ross Muir – £23,000
  5. Nigel Bond – £21,500
  6. Noppon Saengkham – £20,550
  7. Allan Taylor – £20,237
  8. Rod Lawler – £19,712

The closest chasers include:

  • Eden Sharav – £19,525
  • Jimmy White – £19,525
  • Duane Jones – £16,837
  • Andy Hicks (A) – £16,050
  • Peter Lines (A) – £14,712
  • Paul Davison – £14,500
  • Jamie Cope – £14,025
  • Joe Swail – £13,362
  • Fraser Patrick – £12,550
  • Sanderson Lam – £12,250
  • Igor Figueiredo – £11,725
  • Zhang Yong – £11,550
  • Darren Morgan (A) – £11,250
  • Ken Doherty – £10,750
  • James Cahill – £10,425

17:51 – Ricky Walden kept himself in the running for that final spot at the Crucible with a 5-1 win against Niu Zhuang this evening, but David Gilbert will now definitely have to qualify after he fell to a 5-3 defeat at the hands of Andrew Higginson.

Scotland’s Stephen Maguire kept his hopes of a return to the Crucible alive with victory against Fergal O’Brien, but knows that only the title will do if he is to do so.

Monday Blog

12:19 – Only two sessions played so far in Beijing and already a significant result as victory for Hossein Vafaei against Joe Perry means that for the first time since 2013, Perry will now have to qualify if he is to appear at the Crucible for a 15th time.

For Vafaei incidentally, the win is also a significant one as it boosts his position on the one-year ranking list, on which he is currently in line to earn a fresh two-year tour card from. There was also an important victory for Eden Sharav in the battle for tour survival this morning and a full update will follow later in the week setting out who needs to do what during the World Championship qualifiers at Ponds Forge in order to retain their professional status.

17:18 – Victory for Liang Wenbo this evening sees him climb one place in the latest provisional seedings list to 12th, meaning that he swaps places with Ronnie O’Sullivan in the provisional World Championship draw as things stand.