Following back-to-back qualifiers held at the Preston Guild Hall for the Indian Open, European Masters and World Open tournaments over the past week, the 2018 Race to the Dafabet Masters has now been updated.
As during previous seasons, the top 16 players on the official world ranking list following December’s Betway UK Championship will qualify to play at the 2018 Dafabet Masters, snooker’s most prestigious and long-standing invitational event.
The Race to the Masters is easiest way to see who is currently best placed to qualify, with all prize money that will no longer count by the cut-off date already removed and guaranteed prize money from events yet to be completed already included.
So what is the latest state of play following the action in Preston?
One man not in action throughout the week’s qualifiers was Ronnie O’Sullivan, but as defending champion at the Masters, he is already guaranteed to return to the event as defending champion and so has been moved to the top of the Race.
It is a different story however for the man who he defeated 10-7 in this year’s final Joe Perry, as the Gentleman currently languishes down in 21st position having fallen outside of the world’s top 16 in recent months. Just shy of £35,000 behind 16th placed Mark Williams, Perry needs a deep run or two if he is to close the gap but importantly was able to win all three of his qualifying matches this week at Preston to keep himself in the mix.
Also winning each of his qualifying matches was 18th placed Mark King, who only £12,275 shy of the top 16 remains well in contention to return to the Masters for what would be the first time since 2011.
Just above him in 17th position is Australia’s Neil Robertson, winner of the event in 2012 and twice a runner-up since then in 2013 and 2015. The former world number one is set to drop down the ranking list following the removal of his prize money for winning the UK Championship back in 2015 and despite a relatively poor 2016/17 season by his standards, would be a shock absentee if he were to miss out on a return to the Alexandra Palace.
If the likes or Robertson and King are to break into the top 16, who could miss out? Mark Williams currently finds himself in the most immediate danger, but has enjoyed a strong start to the season having reached the semi-finals in Riga and has so far qualified for all of the events that he has entered this season.
Similarly 15th placed Anthony McGill is yet to slip up in qualifying, but perhaps Kyren Wilson will have half an eye on the results of those behind him at next week’s China Championship, as the Warrior is one of only three players ranked inside the world’s top 32 who will not be in action at the venue stages of that competition.
Liang Wenbo is yet to earn any prize money this season, but like a football team with games in hand, has had his opening round matches at both the China Championship and World Open tournaments held over to the venue and so still has opportunities to improve.
Keep checking back at WPBSA.com for updates on the latest standings…