The Cheltenham Race
There is just one event to be completed in the race to qualify for this season’s Coral World Grand Prix which will be staged at The Centaur, Cheltenham Racecourse for the first time from 4-10 February 2019.
As in previous seasons, the event will see 32 players contest the title with a top prize of £100,000 to be won and the field is now almost set for the prestigious event won last year by Ronnie O’Sullivan.
The event is the first of the new ‘Coral Series’ tournaments, also comprising this season’s Coral Players Championship and the all-new Coral Tour Championship this spring.
Who will qualify?
As was the case last season, the top 32 players on the one-year ranking list will qualify to play at the World Grand Prix.
This differs from the official two-year rolling list as the one-year ranking list includes only prize money earned since the start of this season at the 2018 Riga Masters, through to and including the German Masters.
This covers a total of 11 counting events, 10 of which have now been completed following Mark Allen’s victory at the Scottish Open before Christmas.
The state of play
A year ago, £57,000 was enough to seal qualification for the tournament, but this time 32nd placed Gary Wilson is currently poised to qualify with £48,600 heading into the final stages of the German Masters in Berlin.
However, with Wilson already having lost in the second qualifying round for that tournament, he could still be overtaken if any of up to 12 players below him on the one-year ranking list who have qualified for Germany are able to run deep at the Tempodrom.
Of the players currently ranked within the world’s top 32 on the official world ranking list, eight are set to miss out on qualification for Cheltenham as it stands, based on their prize money earned this season (current one-year positions including prize money earned at the German Masters qualifiers in brackets):
- Zhou Yuelong (33)
- Robert Milkins (34)
- Luca Brecel (37)
- Graeme Dott (39)
- Anthony Hamilton (40)
- Liang Wenbo (49)
- Martin Gould (65)
- Anthony McGill (72)
Of these players, only Zhou Yuelong and Robert Milkins have qualified for the final stages in Berlin and so can add to their tallies, each needing to win at least two matches to have any chance of qualification.
The eight lower-ranked players currently in position to qualify on the one-year list are:
- Martin O’Donnell (16)
- Noppon Saengkham (19)
- Mark Davis (21)
- Zhao Xintong (23)
- Matthew Stevens (25)
- Stuart Carrington (26)
- Yuan Sijun (28)
- Gary Wilson (32)
Of these players, almost all look well-placed to stay there, with only Gary Wilson sweating on other results as detailed above.
The Race to the World Grand Prix concludes with the start of the final stages of the 2019 German Masters on 30 January.