Three more qualifying events have now been concluded following my previous look at the battle for places at this season’s Champion of Champions at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.
Yesterday saw the (twice) already-qualified John Higgins capture his landmark 29th ranking event title at the Indian Open, while we have seen Welsh winners in the shape of Michael White and Mark Williams at the recent Paul Hunter Classic and Six Red World Championship events.
But how do those results affect the Race to the Ricoh and why is it another Welshman who was the real winner in this particular chase yesterday?
As in previous seasons, qualification for the event will be determined by the winners of professional tournaments dating back to John Higgins victory in 2016, events having been ordered in a specific line of priority.
Players currently qualified are set out below, numbered by qualification priority, not seeding:
1. 2016 Champion of Champions – John Higgins (1)
2. 2016 UK Championship – Mark Selby (2)
3. 2017 Masters – Ronnie O’Sullivan (3)
4. 2017 World Championship – Mark Selby
5. 2017 German Masters – Anthony Hamilton (4)
6. 2017 World Grand Prix – Barry Hawkins (5)
7. 2017 Championship League Snooker – John Higgins
8. 2017 Players Championship – Judd Trump (6)
9. 2017 China Open – Mark Selby
10. 2017 China Championship – Luca Brecel (7)
11. 2017 Indian Open – John Higgins
12. 2017 World Open (Sep) – tbc
13. 2017 European Masters (Oct) – tbc
14. 2017 International Championship (Nov) – tbc
15. 2016 Northern Irish Open – Mark King (8)
16. 2016 Scottish Open – Marco Fu (9)
17. 2017 Welsh Open – Stuart Bingham (10)
18. 2017 English Open (Oct) – tbc
19. 2017 Gibraltar Open – Shaun Murphy (11)
20. 2017 World Championship runner-up – John Higgins
21. 2017 Riga Masters – Ryan Day (12)
22. 2017 Paul Hunter Classic (Aug) – Michael White (13)
23. 2017 World Cup – Ding Junhui (14)
24. 2017 World Cup – Liang Wenbo (15)
25. 2017 Shoot Out – Anthony McGill (16)
26. 2017 Hong Kong Masters – Neil Robertson (17)
27. 2017 Six Red World Championship – Mark Williams (18)
Who is safe?
Victory for Higgins yesterday means that with another ‘repeat’ winner, Riga Masters champion Ryan Day is now assured of his position at the Champion of Champions in November. This is because sitting in 12th position as he is, there are now just four events still to be played that are higher than the Riga tournament in the criteria list and so at worst for Day with four new winners of those events, he would still take the 16th and final spot.
This also means that Paul Hunter Classic winner Michael White now moves a step closer to being certain of his place at the Ricoh, with one more repeat winner from the remaining four counting events enough to make him safe. Losing out as a result of White’s victory in Germany however was 2015 champion Neil Robertson, who had previously held onto the 16th and final qualifying slot following his win at the Hong Kong Masters, but now must win another of the upcoming four tournaments if he is to return to the tournament this year.
It is a similar story for last week’s Six Red World Championship winner Mark Williams, with that event being the 27th and final qualifying event on the list, already too far down with 18 counting event winners over the current qualifying period.
Next up, on Monday the World Snooker Tour heads to China for the World Open in Yushan, with the winner guaranteed a place at the Champion of Champions.