Following Joe Perry’s victory at the Players Championship there is now just one event to go before the seeding list is set for the 2015 World Championship.
It has been a long battle over the past few months, but following the various results in Thailand, there is just one place still to be determined at next week’s China Open, with Stephen Maguire currently occupying the final spot.
Race to the Crucible
As explained within previous blogs, 16 players will qualify to play at the venue stages of the Betfred World Championship as of right, including Ali Carter, who will be seeded 13th due to the decision taken to protect his ranking for the remainder of the 2014/15 season following his treatment for cancer last year.
This means that the top 15 in the rankings after the China Open on 6th April 2015 (eg on this list), plus Carter, will not have to qualify, while everyone else will have to win three qualifying matches at Ponds Forge, Sheffield, if they are to be at the Crucible this year.
Prior to the start of the Players Championship in Thailand there were big opportunities for the likes of Michael White and Robert Milkins to push for automatic places at the Crucible next month, but with both losing their opening round matches it was instead to prove a good week for Stephen Maguire.
Indeed, although Maguire was to win just one match, falling at the last 16 stage to Michael Holt, he was nevertheless able to extend his lead to White to over £11,000, with the result that Michael must now reach at least the semi-finals of the China Open next week if he is to have any chance of overtaking the Scot.
Behind him, Robert Milkins and Mark Davis must go one step further and reach the final in Beijing, while Graeme Dott, Ryan Day, Liang Wenbo and Alan McManus must all win the tournament to stand any chance of avoiding the need to win three qualifying matches at Ponds Forge.
Although he was to lose out to Joe Perry in the final, Mark Williams’ run in Bangkok was enough to confirm his place at the Crucible in 2015, having failed to qualify for the event last year.
The Crucible Seedings Race
While the identities of all bar one of the 16 seeded players for Sheffield are now known, what is far less certain is how those names will be placed in the draw, with this set to be determined by the final seedings list published after the China Open.
If the cut-off was to fall today, the draw for the venue stages of the 2015 Betfred World Championship would be as follows:
Mark Selby (1) / Qualifier
Stephen Maguire (16) / Qualifier
Joe Perry (9) / Qualifier
Shaun Murphy (8) / Qualifier
Barry Hawkins (5) / Qualifier
Mark Allen (12) / Qualifier
Ali Carter (13) / Qualifier
Ding Junhui (4) / Qualifier
Neil Robertson (3) / Qualifier
John Higgins (14) / Qualifier
Marco Fu (11) / Qualifier
Judd Trump (6) / Qualifier
Ricky Walden (7) / Qualifier
Stuart Bingham (10) / Qualifier
Mark Williams (15) / Qualifier
Ronnie O’Sullivan (2) / Qualifier
With Joe Perry climbing from 14th to 9th place following his breakthrough victory at the Players Championship in Thailand, the knock-on effect for the Crucible draw is relatively significant with a number of players changing places in the draw.
For Perry himself, he no longer finds himself with a potential second round match against close friend Neil Robertson in Sheffield, his victory instead moving him up into the top quarter as it stands with Shaun Murphy.
He replaces Stuart Bingham, who of course he defeated in the semi-finals in Thailand and now finds himself in the bottom quarter with Ricky Walden, while Marco Fu moves up to a potential last 16 match with Judd Trump.
For Mark Allen, he now moves up into the second quarter and a potential encounter with 2013 runner-up Barry Hawkins, while John Higgins could now face Australia’s Neil Robertson at the same stage.
Still though, much can change with only Mark Selby, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ali Carter certain to remain in their current positions after Beijing, with the 2015 China Open set to get underway on Monday.