There are just two events to go before the field is set for this season’s Coral World Grand Prix which is set to be held at The Centaur, Cheltenham Racecourse for the first time.
Forming part of the new three-part Coral Series, the tournament will be played at 4-10 February 2019 and as in recent seasons will once again see 32 players contest the title, with a top prize of £100,000 to be won.
Although there are just under two months to go until then however, with invitational events including the Masters and Championship League dominating the month of January, there are in fact just two counting ranking events – the Scottish Open and the German Masters – still to be completed before the important cut-off date.
Mark Allen currently tops the one-year ranking list
Who will qualify?
As was the case last season, the top 32 players on the one-year ranking list will earn their places at the World Grand Prix. But how does this ranking list differ from the world’s official ranking order?
While the official world ranking list is calculated over a rolling two-year period, the one-year ranking list used to determine qualification for Cheltenham includes only prize money earned since the start of this season at the 2018 Riga Masters, through to and including the 2019 German Masters in Berlin. This covers a total of 11 counting events, nine of which have already been completed, with the Scottish Open due to start on Monday morning in Glasgow.
For the avoidance of doubt, this does not include prize money earned from maximum or high break prizes, or invitational events such as the Shanghai Masters or Champion of Champions.
The state of play
Last season saw the final qualifying place taken by Robert Milkins with £57,000 and this year’s final total looks likely to fall somewhere close to that tally.
On looking at the latest Race to the World Grand Prix standings, including prize money earned at this week’s Betway UK Championship, those either side of the crucial cut-off include:
24th – Xiao Guodong – £51,600
25th – Yan Bingtao – £51,500
26th – Marco Fu – £51,000
27th – Matthew Stevens – £48,000
28th – Yuan Sijun – £46,500
29st – Gary Wilson – £45,600
30th – Stuart Carrington – £44,500
31st – Ding Junhui – £44,000
32nd – Sunny Akani – £41,500
33rd – Zhou Yuelong – £40,000
34th– Eden Sharav – £39,100
35th – Luca Brecel – £39,000
36th – Robert Milkins – £38,600
37th – Anthony Hamilton – £38,500
38th – Peter Ebdon – £38,500
39th– Hossein Vafaei – £37,000
40th– Lyu Haotian – £36,000
41st – Scott Donaldson – £36,000
42nd– Graeme Dott – £33,000
43rd– Chris Wakelin – £32,725
44th– Thepchaiya Un-Nooh – £31,225
45th– Ricky Walden – £31,000
46th– Matt Selt – £30,100
Of the players currently ranked within the world’s top 32, ten are currently outside of the same positions on the one-year ranking list based on their prize money earned this season.
Perhaps most notable among them is former world champion Shaun Murphy (65), who despite currently being ranked inside of the world’s top ten finds himself well down the one-year list having earned just £19,500 during the first half of this season.
Other big names in danger include 13th ranked Luca Brecel (35), as well as Scottish duo Anthony McGill (68) and Graeme Dott (42), while Liang Wenbo (48) also needs a significant run at one of the two remaining events to bring himself into contention.
The others who currently stand outside of the top 32 on the one-year ranking list are Zhou Yuelong (33), Robert Milkins (36), Anthony Hamilton (37), Ricky Walden (45) and Martin Gould (57), the latter having not entered the Scottish Open.
On the rise
Among those looking to qualify for The Centaur at the expense of those above are of course Martin O’Donnell (16), some 43 places higher on the one-year list than his actual ranking following his career-best start to the season.
Also performing above their ranking are Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham (18), English Open finalist Mark Davis (19) and Tom Ford (21), who reached his first triple-crown semi-final this week in York.
Zhao Xintong (23) is also well inside the current qualification standings despite being on the first year of a two-year tour card, with Matthew Stevens (27), Yuan Sijun (28), Gary Wilson (29), Stuart Carrington (30) and Sunny Akani (32) also in the mix ahead of Scotland and Germany.
The Race to Cheltenham continues this week with its penultimate event, the BetVictor Scottish Open on Monday. Visit www.worldsnooker.com for more information.