Race to the Masters 2018: Live Blog

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This season’s Betway UK Championship gets underway this afternoon with the likes of Mark Selby, Judd Trump, Ding Junhui and Ronnie O’Sullivan looking to take home the biggest title of the season so far from the York Barbican.

As well as the battle to become champion however, there is of course another sub-plot to consider as the final places at January’s Dafabet Masters are also decided.

For a full preview as to who looks safe and who could still miss out, check out yesterday’s blog, while you can read below for regular updates through the UK Championship over the next 13 days as to how the situation is unfolding..

Race to the Masters

The top 16 players in the official world ranking list following the UK Championship (excluding Stuart Bingham) will qualify to play at the 2018 Dafabet Masters.

Latest Race to the Masters (09/12/2017):

14th – Anthony McGill – £283,325 (r64)
15th – Ryan Day – £279,537 (SF)
16th – Liang Wenbo – £262,650 (r32)
17th – Stephen Maguire – £257,950 (SF) – final minimum
18th – Martin Gould – £251,050 (QF) – semi-finals minimum
19th – Neil Robertson – £250,625 (r32)
20th – Mark King – £242,700 (QF) – final minimum
21st – Joe Perry – £222,850 (QF) – final minimum
22nd – Ricky Walden – £214,700 (r16) – final minimum
34th – Xiao Guodong – £140,425 (r16) – title needed
41st – Mark Joyce – £123,437 (QF) – title needed

Semi-finals blog

Saturday 9 Dec

17:02 – With defeat for Stephen Maguire to Ronnie O’Sullivan the field is now set for the Masters, Liang Wenbo now safe in the 16th and final spot.

The only outstanding issue to be resolved is as to whether Ryan Day claim a top eight seeding for the tournament, which he would do if he is able to go all the way and lift the title this weekend in York.

Quarter-finals blog

Friday 8 Dec

0:02Ryan Day has now confirmed his place at January’s Masters following his 6-5 victory against Mark Joyce. With Joyce and King now out of the reckoning, only Stephen Maguire can now overtake Day in the Masters Race, meaning that he will finish 16th at worst after this tournament.

21:35 – And then there were two – Mark King has become the latest to fall in the Masters Race as Shaun Murphy has come through their match a 6-1 winner this evening.

17:06 – And Maguire will face O’Sullivan after the five-time champion defeated Gould 6-3 in the second match to finish this session. The result means that Gould can now no longer qualify for the Masters, with just three players remaining in the hunt.

In simple terms, Ryan Day will qualify UNLESS Mark King and Stephen Maguire make it to the final, or Mark Joyce is able to defeat Maguire in the final. Liang Wenbo meanwhile will also sneak in, provided that neither Maguire or King reach the final and Joyce does not win the title.

16:28Stephen Maguire has moved to within one match of a place at the Masters with a 6-3 victory against Joe Perry this afternoon in York. The result means that Maguire moves up to 17th in the Masters Race as it stands, with either Ronnie O’Sullivan or Martin Gould standing between the Scot and a place in the final.

R16 blog

Thursday 7 Dec

17:33 – And the battle continues for Gould as he emerges victorious to seal his place in the quarter-finals, meaning that he now needs just one more victory to overtake Liang Wenbo for the final place in London. Next up will be either five-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan or Sunny Akani on Friday.

23:29 – The race for spots at the Masters has become slightly clearer this morning as Ricky Walden has fallen at the hands of Shaun Murphy at the last 16 stage. Martin Gould meanwhile is level at 3-3 with Xiao Guodong in a match that is guaranteed to elimite another of the chasing pack.

Wednesday 6 Dec

23:29Ryan Day has taken a significant step towards securing his place at the Masters this evening following a dramatic 6-5 victory against Li Hang. The result means that he not only adds £7,500 to his ranking total, but in doing so moves above Liang Wenbo to 15th in the latest Masters Race. While the Welshman is not yet 100% safe, it would now take two players below him in the list now both making it to the final this week for him to miss out.

One of those players is Joe Perry, who kept his hopes alive with a 6-4 victory against Mark Allen which means he moves to within two wins of displacing Liang.

20:58 – And also maintaining his outside shot of a place in London is Mark King, who came through a dramatic match 6-5 against three-time UK Champion John Higgins this afternoon. Like Maguire however, King must reach at least the final to threaten the top 16 after this cut-off.

16:43 – First man through to the quarter-finals is Scotland’s Stephen Maguire, a 6-2 winner against Graeme Dott to keep his bid for a Masters place on track. The Scot must however win two further matches and reach the final for a third time if he is to do so.

R32 blog

Tuesday 5 Dec

22:59 – Victory for Ricky Walden against Kyren Wilson this evening keeps his chase for a Masters spot alive also as he sets up a last 16 clash with Shaun Murphy. Again, Walden must reach at least the final if he is to qualify for London.

17:33 – And the race goes on for Gould who emerged a 6-4 winner against Vafaei to keep his Masters chase on track. Likewise Mark King also progressed a 6-3 winner agianst Luca Brecel, the former Northern Ireland Open champion needing to reach the final this week to be in with a chance of qualifying.

13:39 Martin Gould resumes his quest to secure a place at the Masters this afternoon as he takes on 23-year-old Hossein Vafaei in the third round. Gould has work to do yet if he is to threaten the top 16 by the end of this tournament, but is now the best placed player to do so following the exit of Robertson yesterday evening.

Monday 4 Dec

23:27Neil Robertson’s chase of a top 16 place after this tournament is over following a 6-5 defeat to Mark Joyce in the final match of the day. The Australian now cannot finish higher than 18th in the rankings after the event, meaning that even allowing for Stuart Bingham’s suspension he will not qualify to play at the Masters in January.

The result is a significant boost to the hopes of Liang Wenbo and Ryan Day, with Martin Gould now the closest chaser and needing to reach at least the semi-finals to threaten Day.

17:34 – And another key result there as Stephen Maguire edges out Liang Wenbo in a deciding frame to keep his hopes of a Masters spot alive. While it still remains a long-shot for the Scot, who must reach at least the semi-finals this week, the result could also be significant in respect of Liang’s own hopes.

Currently 15th on the list, defeat today means that if both Ryan Day and Neil Robertson are able to reach the quarter-finals this week, they would overtake Liang and it would be the Chinese number two who would miss out.

17:13 – A huge win this afternoon for Ryan Day in the all-Welsh battle as he comes back from 4-1 down to defeat Mark Williams at the last 32 stage of the UK Championship.

The result means that he remains in 16th place in the Race to the Masters, but that Neil Robertson must now reach at least the quarter-finals (where he would potentially face Day), to stand a chance of overhauling him.

13:23 – The last match to finish of the last 64 saw Anthony McGill lose out in a deciding frame to Iran’s Hossein Vafaei, leaving his Masters fate in the hands of the chasing pack.

That said, he remains well placed with only a very unlikely scenario enough to see him displaced now.

Meanwhile in the third round, Ryan Day, Liang Wenbo and Stephen Maguire are all in action as they continue their respective quests to qualify for the Alexandra Palace.

R64 blog

Sunday 3 Dec

22:16 – A 6-2 victory for Martin Gould against Robbie Williams has kept his hopes of a place at the Masters alive, while Ricky Walden and Mark King have also progressed to the last 32 on day five.

One man who is being given a stern test meanwhile is Scotland’s Anthony McGill, currently level at 3-3 with Iran’s Hossein Vafaei as he looks to secure his Masters debut.

Saturday 2 Dec

22:09 – A good night at the office for Stephen Maguire and Liang Wenbo, through to the last 32 having dropped just one frame between them this evening.

Liang consolidates his position in 15th position, while Maguire keeps his outside hopes alive, at least a semi-final run needed if he is to threaten the top 16 by the end of the week.

16:04 – And Robertson does quickly follow Day into the next round, scoring three straight century breaks for the second round in a row at this year’s UK Championship.

The results so far today now mean that Martin Gould now must reach at least the semi-finals to stand any chance of overhauling Day, a last eight run no longer enough for the Pinner Potter

15:43 – First man through to the last 32 is Ryan Day, whose victory is a further boost to his hopes of securing the final spot at the Masters in January. The result means that Neil Robertson must now reach at least the last 16 here in York, although the two-time champion currently leads Ken Doherty 5-2 in his own match this afternoon.

R128 blog

Thursday 30 Nov

17:18 – Safe progress for Neil Robertson, a 6-1 win including three century breaks in a row against Rod Lawler keeps his bid for a Masters spot alive heading into the weekend. Next up for him will be either Gary Wilson or Ken Doherty, the Irishman 4-3 up at the time of writing.

13:07 – Today sees two of the key players involved in the battle for spots at the Masters get their UK campaigns underway and Liang Wenbo is already through to the last 64 following a 6-1 victory against Sanderson Lam this morning.

Next up this afternoon will be Neil Robertson, the triple-crown winner looking to make a strong start against Rod Lawler, needing at least two victories to threaten Ryan Day’s participation in London.

Wednesday 29 Nov

18:23 – While Neil Robertson has gained much of the attention pre-tournament, the next closest player to breaking into the top 16 in the Masters Race is Martin Gould, who got his UK campaign off to a strong start this afternoon with a 6-3 win against veteran Joe Swail.

13:51 – Also through the morning session is Anthony McGill, who would guarantee his Masters debut by reaching the third round here in York. With three centuries this morning during a 6-2 victory against Ashley Hugill, he now faces Iranian Hossein Vafaei at the weekend.

13:00 – Day two at the Barbican and Ricky Walden has progressed to the second round with a 6-1 victory against Duane Jones to keep his outside chance of a place at the Masters alive, at least a run to the final required by the former world number six.

Tuesday 28 Nov

22:53 – Stephen Maguire kept his hopes of a spot at the Masters alive this evening with a 6-1 victory againt Yuan Sijun.

17:09 – The perfect start in York for Ryan Day who has whitewashed Jamie Curtis-Barrett to progress safely to the last 64 this afternoon. Victory for the Welshman means that closest chaser Neil Robertson must win at least two matches this week to remain in the hunt.

Mark King too remains in the hunt following his own 6-0 victory, but knows that several more wins will be needed over the next week if he is to bring himself into contention.

Later this evening former Barbican champion Stephen Maguire gets his campaign underway against China’s Yuan Sijun, with a semi-final run needed if he is to challenge for a return to London.

Ryan Day at UK Championship

09:03 – The opening session of this year’s Championship sees 16th placed man Ryan Day launch his bid not only for the title, but to secure a place at this season’s Masters underway when he faces Jamie Curtis-Barrett at 2:30pm.

Also in action during the session is Mark King, who could still overtake Day with a deep run this week. He faces Thailand’s Boonyarit Keattikun.