Race to Llandudno 2016 – Two to Go

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Following Martin Gould’s victory at the 918.com German Masters a week ago, there are now just two counting events prior to the cut-off to qualify for next month’s World Grand Prix in Llandudno.

For more information about the event please read my previous blog posted prior to the action in Berlin, or alternatively continue reading for some of the key themes to follow over the next two events…

  • Click here to view the latest race to the World Grand Prix

Qualification Criteria

Similar to last season, the top 32 players on a one-year ranking list will qualify to play at the 2016 World Grand Prix.

All prize money earned from last June’s Australian Goldfields Open, up to and including the 2016 Gdynia Open which concludes on 28 February, will be included.

This means that at the time of writing, the BetVictor Welsh Open and Gdynia Open are the final two counting events towards qualification.

For the avoidance of doubt, this does not include prize money won from invitational events, for tournament high breaks, or maximum breaks.

At risk

Prior to the venue stages of the 918.com German Masters, seven of the world’s top 32 on the official two-year ranking list were poised to miss out on the action in Llandudno.

That number however has now dropped to six, with Graeme Dott’s semi-final run in Berlin enough to see him climb to 22nd in the latest race to the World Grand Prix.

Otherwise though the six to miss out remain the same, with Ronnie O’Sullivan, Ricky Walden, Robert Milkins, Mark Davis, Alan McManus and Anthony McGill having not yet done enough during 2015/16 to qualify.

For Dafabet Masters champion O’Sullivan, having not entered the Gdynia Open we already know that he must reach at least the final next week in Cardiff, more likely win the tournament (depending on other results), if he is to return to Wales next month for the World Grand Prix.

This is because with just £1,500 to his name so far this season from ranking events, he stands £28,725 behind 32nd placed Mark Joyce, with £30,000 available for reaching the BetVictor Welsh Open final, £60,000 for the title.

Of the others, Mark Davis, Robert Milkins and Alan McManus are within £10,000 and therefore a quarter-final run in Cardiff of breaking into the top 32, while Walden has earned just £20,025 this season and McGill is even further back with just £15,350.

Of those currently inside the top 32 on the World Grand Prix list, Peter Ebdon and Stephen Maguire will certainly want to avoid early exits at next week’s BetVictor Welsh Open, while Michael White, Joe Perry and Ding Junhui are inside by less than £5,000 and not yet safe either.

Breaking Through

With Graeme Dott’s rise inside the top 32 on the World Grand Prix list, Ruhr Open champion Rory McLeod has been nudged out of the qualification places as it stands.

So too has Mike Dunn, with Mark Joyce having earned £7,500 from his run to the quarter-finals of the 918.com German Masters to move above him into 32nd place.

Still set to qualify however as it stands are Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, David Grace, Tom Ford, Tian Pengfei and Jamie Jones, though not all of them are absolutely safe just yet.

The target

Of course with £60,000 on offer at next week’s BetVictor Open, not to mention the decisive event in Gdynia, there is still much to play for if somebody further down the rankings is about to emulate the likes of surprise ranking event finalists Luca Brecel, David Gilbert and Kyren Wilson so far this season.

Last season, £42,083 was enough for Michael Holt to take the final qualifying space, however with three fewer counting full-ranking events in 2015/16, it might be that a season total of closer to £35,000 by the close of play in Gdynia will be sufficient this time.

The bar is currently set at £30,225 by 32nd placed Mark Joyce.