Closing in on the Cut: December 2016
Following Mark King’s maiden ranking event triumph at the Northern Ireland Open yesterday, there is now just one event to go before one of the most crucial seeding revisions of the season takes place. Following the UK Championship, the final qualifiers for the 2017 Masters will be decided, as well as the final seeding list for the Scottish Open and German Masters competitions.
- Click here to view the draw for the UK Championship
- Click here to view the latest provisional seedings
- Click here to view the race to the Masters
- Click here to view the prize money schedule for events this season
On the 5th December 2016 following the UK Championship, the current seedings list will be updated for the fifth time this season and will be used to determine the seedings for the 2016 Scottish Open, 2017 Masters and 2017 German Masters.
By the time of the revision, prize money earned from the 2014 AT1, ET1, Wuxi Classic, Australian Goldfields Open, ET2, Shanghai Masters, ET3, AT2, International Championship, ET4 and UK Championship tournaments will have been deducted and replaced by that from this season’s events up to that date. This prize money has therefore already been removed from the latest provisional seedings list, to show the situation as up to date as possible.
Please note that all seeding permutations below are on the basis that all eligible players enter the relevant events.
Battle for Number 1
Although he elected to sit out last week’s Northern Ireland Open, reigning world champion Mark Selby’s lead at the top of the world rankings looks to be as secure as ever following his recent victory at the International Championship in Daqing.
Second placed Stuart Bingham could have closed the gap with victory against Selby at the semi-final stages in China, but fell victim to a superb performance from the world number one and now trails the Leicester man by over £300,000 on the latest provisional standings. Even if Bingham were to lift the UK title with Selby falling at the first hurdle, he would still trail his rival by some £141,013.
Behind Bingham are Judd Trump, Ding Junhui and John Higgins, the illustrious trio separated by just £7,190 and all within range of the second ranked player.
The Top Eight
With a record top prize of £170,000 on offer in York, players as far down as Luca Brecel in 29th can mathematically catch eighth placed Joe Perry by winning the title, while the final would be enough for those as far down as Kyren Wilson in 13th.
Closest to passing current eighth-placed man Joe Perry is Mark Allen, who would need to reach at least the quarter-finals in York to be in with a chance, while Barry Hawkins and Liang Wenbo need to reach the final.
It is worth remembering however that in respect of both the Masters and German Masters events, seedings could be affected by the fact that 2016 winners Ronnie O’Sullivan and Martin Gould are currently set to drop out of the top 16 following this cut-off. This means that as they will be automatically installed as top seeds for those events, the eighth ranked player after the UK Championship will miss out on a top eight seeding.
The Top 16
With places at the Masters up for grabs, with the exception of April’s World Championship in Sheffield, this is without doubt the most important time of the year to be a top 16 player.
Again, it is important to note that with defending Masters champion Ronnie O’Sullivan currently down in 18th position on the latest provisional seeding list, only the top 15 ranked players after the UK Championship are currently set to join him at the Alexandra Palace. This can of course change if O’Sullivan is able to progress far enough in York to regain a top 16 place.
For that reason in terms of the Masters race it is easier to refer to my ‘Race to the Masters’ table, which already has O’Sullivan locked in top spot.
Upon analysis of the list, the first player who can still mathematically miss out upon a place in London is Ali Carter, who currently sits in 13th position on the Race to the Masters. For him to do so, he would need to lose his opening match against Chris Keogan and four of the following to occur at the UK Championship:
- Kyren Wilson to reach the last 64
- Mark Williams and Marco Fu to reach the semi-finals
- Ricky Walden or Anthony McGill to reach the final
- One of the next 24 players to win the title
With Walden and Williams seeded to meet in the last 32, the likelihood of this scenario coming to pass becomes even less likely, while Carter can of course make certain by going on a run at the Barbican Centre himself.
Next up is Kyren Wilson, just £2,817 behind Carter and looking to make his Masters début next January. For him to miss out, he would need to slip up against Mitchell Mann and for three of the following to happen:
- Mark Williams to reach the quarter-finals
- Marco Fu to reach the semi-finals
- Ricky Walden or Anthony McGill to reach the final
- One of the next 30 players to win the title
Occupying 15th place on the Race to the Masters is former champion Mark Williams, who moved ahead of Marco Fu by reaching the quarter-finals in Northern Ireland but is still the first player on the list who finds himself in real danger of missing out on a return to London. He faces Jason Weston first up and if he were to suffer a shock defeat, would miss out if two of the following were to happen:
- Marco Fu reaches the last 64
- Ricky Walden reaches the quarter-finals
- Anthony McGill reaches the semi-finals
- One of seven players reaches the final
- One of a further 36 players wins the title
The man currently ‘on the bubble’ however is Marco Fu, who begins his tournament in York against Irish youngster Josh Boileau. For Fu, the position is identical to that of Williams above, except that only one of those outcomes would have to happen for him to drop out of the top 16 seeds for the Masters.
This means then that Ricky Walden, an ever-present at the Masters since 2013, needs to reach at least the quarter-finals at the UK Championship if he is to extend that run to a fifth successive year.
The Top 32
Rounding out the top 32 is Mark Davis, who leads next placed man Tom Ford by £10,550. As with Robert Milkins and Peter Ebdon behind him, Ford must reach at least the last 16 of the UK Championship if he is to pass Davis.
Jimmy Robertson, Gary Wilson and Dominic Dale need to make it to the quarter-finals to break into the top 32, while a further 26 players could do so by reaching the final.
With £170,000 up for grabs, any of the remaining players on tour could yet make it into the top 32 with a shock victory in York.
The Top 64
As we reach the midway point of the season, we are now starting to see players on the second year of their two-year tour card move within striking distance of the top 64, Alfie Burden already up to 64th provisionally.
Behind him, Chris Wakelin needs to win at least two matches in York, as must Anthony Hamilton who following his semi-final run last week in Northern Ireland, could achieve the rare feat of breaking into the top 64 during the first year of a two-year card.
Due to the way that the draw is structured at the UK Championship, all of the players just inside the top 64 mark will be facing those just outside of that group in the opening round in York in matches that could prove crucial in the battle for tour survival later in the season.
Some of these key matches to keep an eye on include:
Alfie Burden v Chris Wakelin, Ian Burns v Daniel Wells, Yu Delu v Nigel Bond, Oliver Lines v Martin O’Donnell, Joe Swail v Ross Muir, Robin Hull v Jamie Cope and Ken Doherty v Noppon Saengkham
Regular updates will follow throughout the tournament here at WPBSA.com, with the action getting underway on Tuesday 22 November 2016.