Race to the Barbican 2022

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The return of the Cazoo UK Championship is fast-approaching and there is now just one tournament remaining before the crucial seeding cut-off for the first Triple Crown Series event of the season.

With the UK Championship set to adopt an all-new tiered format, the event will see the top 16 players seeded through to the last 32 in York from 12-20 November.

The remaining professionals, in addition to WPBSA qualifiers announced earlier this week, will compete in the qualifying rounds at Ponds Forge in Sheffield from 5-10 November.

Seeding Cut-Off

The all-important seeding cut-off for the UK Championship is set to fall following this year’s BetVictor Northern Ireland Open, with ranking points earned from the 2020 Championship, up to and including the upcoming tournament in Belfast, set to decide the seedings.

The key points across the ranking list are:

  • Top 16 – seeded through to the last 32
  • Top 48 – seeded through to Round 3
  • Top 80 – seeded through to Round 2
  • All other players to begin in Round 1

For the avoidance of doubt, prize money earned at this week’s BetVictor Scottish Open qualifiers will not count towards this seeding cut-off.

Below we preview what can still change, with all forecasts made on the basis that all professionals enter the UK Championship.

The Top 16

Following the qualifying rounds for the Northern Ireland Open it can already be confirmed that the top 14 players on the latest provisional seedings list – down to and including Stuart Bingham – are already mathematically guaranteed to qualify for the final stages of the UK Championship in York.

The first player who could still miss out is 15th placed Yan Bingtao, should he lose his opening round match to Liang Wenbo and two of the following were to happen:

  • Ricky Walden to reach the final
  • One of Hossein Vafaei, David Gilbert, Anthony McGill, Jordan Brown or Jimmy Robertson to win the title

The second player currently in position to qualify, who could still miss out is recent British Open champion Ryan Day, who crucially will not be in Belfast, having already lost to Ben Woollaston in qualifying.

He would also miss out on the final qualifying spot if one of the same scenarios outlined above were to happen.

The Top 48

The second cut-off of significance is the top 48, with the players ranked 17-48 set to be seeded through to the penultimate qualifying round for the UK Championship.

Heading into the final stages at Belfast, China’s Pang Junxu is currently the player on the bubble in 48th position with a lead of £2,500 to Jamie Clarke.

In fact, there are three players within two match wins of Pang, with Joe O’Connor and Mark King also in the immediate hunt. Notably, O’Connor has yet to play his opening round match against Luca Brecel, with a last 32 run potentially enough for the Leicester player, while both Clarke and O’Connor would need to reach the last 16.

With both Mark Joyce and Robbie Williams having lost in qualifying, next placed chaser Scott Donaldson would need to reach at least the semi-finals in Belfast to threaten the top 48.

If Pang were to win at least two matches at the venue stages, players including Sam Craigie, Li Hang and Ben Woollaston could also be left to sweat on their positions.

The Top 80

The final section of the rankings to consider is the top 80, with seeds 49-80 positioned in the second round of the draw to await the Round 1 winners.

With just the final stages in Belfast to go, Louise Heathcote currently holds onto the final seeded position, level on prize money with Duane Jones, but crucially ahead on countback with Heathcote having won his opening round qualifier against Dean Young and Jones already out.

The closest threat to Heathcote is in fact 83rd place Fraser Patrick, who would overtake him with victory against Neil Robertson at the venue stages, while Si Jiahui would need to win two matches to reach the last 16 and break into the top 80.

Other players would need to reach at least the semi-finals in Belfast to overtake Heathcote.

For the latest updates during the BetVictor Northern Ireland visit wpbsa.com and wst.tv.