Closing In On The Cut: February 2016

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Tomorrow sees the return of ranking event snooker to our television screens and with the conclusion of the venue stages of the German Masters in Berlin comes the sixth seedings revision of the 2015/16 season.

  • Click here to view the draw for the German Masters
  • Click here to view the latest projected seedings
  • Click here to view the money tariffs for events this season

On 8 February 2016 following the German Masters, the current seedings list will be revised for the sixth time this season and will be used to determine the seedings for the 2016 Welsh and China Open events.

By the time of the revision, prize money earned from the 2013 AT1-AT3, 2013 Wuxi Classic, 2013 Australian Goldfields Open, 2013 ET1-ET5, 2013 Shanghai Masters, 2013 Indian Open, 2013 International Championship, 2013 UK Championship and 2014 German Masters will have been deducted and replaced by that from this season’s events up to that date.

As always, I have already removed the points to be deducted from the appropriate column on my latest projected seedings list, to show the situation as up to date as possible.

Note that for this season, where a player loses their first match at a tournament, irrespective of the round, they will not receive any prize money towards their official world ranking.

Also note that all seeding permutations below are on the basis that all eligible players enter the relevant events.

Battle for Number 1

With a lead of over £100,000 over his nearest challenger, defending German Masters champion Mark Selby is guaranteed to remain at the top of the world rankings, regardless of results this week in Berlin.

The tournament will in fact see Selby complete a full calendar year at the head of the list, having claimed the number one spot following his victory at the event in 2015.

Behind him, Stuart Bingham is also guaranteed to remain in second place, while Shaun Murphy could climb to third position above Neil Robertson and equal his career-high ranking to date by reaching the semi-finals this weekend.

It would in fact represent the first time since the 2009/10 season that Murphy would have held a top three ranking.

The Top Eight

Often one of the most competitive areas in the rankings race, at this revision the battle for the top eight seedings at the China Open is relatively clear cut, with Barry Hawkins and Mark Allen the two battling over the final spot.

Simply put, Allen would need to win the tournament and hope that Hawkins falls before the semi-finals, otherwise Hawkins will retain a top eight seeding for Beijing.

On the other hand, if one of the current top eight were not to enter the China Open, then Allen would be guaranteed to claim a top eight seeding for the event, with the likes of his nearest challengers Joe Perry, Ricky Walden and Ding Junhui already out of the German Masters.

It is worth noting that having been ranked as high as third following September’s Shanghai Masters, 2014 Berlin winner Ding is now already guaranteed to fall to his lowest ranking since the 2009/10 season, by dropping to 12th after the tournament. This is because the prize money that he earned by winning this tournament back in 2014 will now be removed from his ranking following the conclusion of the event.

The Top 16

At first glance the battle for places inside the top 16 looks to be relatively open, but upon closer inspection of the draw we can see that the top 14 players are already guaranteed to remain there following the German Masters.

The first man then who could be knocked out is China’s Liang Wenbo, who currently holds a career-high ranking of 15th position and has qualified for the final stages in Berlin.

As it stands, a combination of a semi-final run from Stephen Maguire and a title victory by one of Martin Gould, Kyren Wilson, Graeme Dott, Ryan Day or Alan McManus would be enough to nudge him out.

A quarter-final run from Liang in Germany would leave him safe from shock tournament victory for McManus, while a semi-final appearance would all but confirm his retained top 16 status.

In more danger is current 16th placed man Michael White, who will not be able to add to his total in Berlin having lost in qualifying back in December.

The same permutations as described above in respect of Liang apply equally to White, except that only one of those results needs to happen, not two.

The Top 32

The current 32nd placed man in the projected seedings list is Welshman Jamie Jones, who was amongst those to lose out in Wigan before Christmas and so will not be in action this week.

His closest challenger still in the tournament is Irishman Fergal O’Brien, who would require a semi-final run to reclaim a top 32 place.

Further back, Luca Brecel and Mark King would need to reach the final, while Mark Joyce, Ken Doherty, Kurt Maflin, Rory McLeod and Tian Pengfei would need to win the title to nudge Jones out of the 32.

The Top 64

Finally comes the battle for places on the top 64, which in recent seasons has developed into one of the most important brackets, with those inside guaranteed to avoid the highest ranked players in their opening round matches.

Currently holding on to the 64th and final spot is Sam Baird, with Ian Burns and Zhang Anda the two players who would knock him out with semi-final runs in Berlin.

Alternatively, Alfie Burden and Steven Hallworth could also mathematically do so, but would each need to win the tournament to do so.

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