The Dafabet Masters returns to the Alexandra Palace in January 2016 and with just four events to go before the field is set, the battle to secure a place at the tournament is hotting up.
Snooker’s biggest invitational event with a total prize fund of £600,000, the event will see the 16 top ranked players in the world after the 2015 Betway UK Championship qualify to play in London.
Taking a look at the world ranking list and deducting prize money that will be removed for ranking purposes by the time of the appropriate seedings revision, we can see that the following players are already likely to be sure of the chance to succeed 2015 champion Shaun Murphy as Dafabet Masters champion:
- Mark Selby – £638,232
- Stuart Bingham – £554,195
- Shaun Murphy – £445,116
- Ronnie O’Sullivan – £410,250
- Judd Trump – £407,141
- Barry Hawkins – £338,358
- Ding Junhui – £314,000
- Neil Robertson – £312,443
- Joe Perry – 286,532
- Ricky Walden – £259,627
- Mark Allen – £257,117
- John Higgins – £241,850
- Mark Williams – £210,042
In 14th place in the running for a Masters spot is Marco Fu, who will be defending runner-up prize money from the 2013 International Championship over the coming weeks. With a total of £182,441, he nevertheless holds a reasonable lead over the chasing pack, but will be hoping to score a few more wins over the coming weeks to make absolutely sure of qualification.
The two currently in most danger therefore are Michael White and Stephen Maguire, who have totals of £163,358 and £162,358 respectively with just four events remaining.
For White, although he is not currently participating in the ongoing Haining Open, he has successfully qualified for the International Championship and will also be in action at the Bulgarian Open and Betway UK Championship.
Maguire however fell to Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham in qualifying for the International Championship and having failed to enter either the Haining Open and Bulgarian Open events, has only the Betway UK Championship at which to defend his position.
The good news for the Scot is that both Robert Milkins and Mark Davis, the two players closest to edging him out of the final Masters place have not qualified for the venue stage of the International Chamionship either, while Davis will also be absent from the Bulgarian Open.
In terms of those who can mathematically pass the Scot, with £125,000 available to the winner in Daqing and a further £150,000 at the Betway UK Championship, the race remains wide open, as the likes of Kyren Wilson and Rory McLeod have shown in recent weeks with tournament victories from further down the rankings.
After this week’s Haining Open however there will be just three counting events to go and it will be interesting to see whether anybody will be able to close the gap to Stephen Maguire for the final spot before he returns to action at the Betway UK Championship.
Of course the above permutations detail who is likely to qualify to play at the event and as with all events, players may elect not to enter the tournament, as demonstrated by Ronnie O’Sullivan’s recent decision not to participate in this year’s Champion of Champions tournament.
The Box Office for the Dafabet Masters 2016 is open and tickets on sale – get your tickets today to the most prestigious invitation snooker event on the World Snooker calendar here.