Race to the Crucible: Two to Go

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Following Shaun Murphy’s victory at the World Grand Prix there are just two events remaining at which players will be able to add prize money to their respective rankings before the all-important seeding cut-off ahead of this season’s Betfred World Championship.

After next week’s Players Championship and the subsequent China Open, the world’s top 16 ranked players will qualify to play at the Crucible Theatre automatically, while the remaining players on tour face three qualifying matches to make it through to the final stages of snooker’s biggest event.

The numbers

At the time of writing, including all prize money earned covering the relevant period, including minimum prize money to be added by qualifying for the Ladbrokes Players Championship and China Open tournaments, the players in contention are:

  • 13) Mark Williams – 208,625
  • 14) Marco Fu – 196,241
  • 15) Michael White – 187,033
  • 16) Liang Wenbo – 178,101

  • 17) Ding Junhui – 174,925
  • 18) Kyren Wilson – 172,399
  • 19) Stephen Maguire – 170,450
  • 20) Ryan Day – 151,057
  • 21) David Gilbert – 150,433
  • 22) Robert Milkins – 149,144

Ding closing in

Prior to the start of the Welsh Open a month ago China’s Ding Junhui stood £23,025 adrift of the top 16 on the latest race to the Crucible. Following his quarter-final run in Cardiff and subsequent semi-final appearance at the World Grand Prix however, he has now closed that gap to just £3,176.

He still requires a strong performance either in Manchester or Beijing, but the task facing him now looks to be a far more manageable one than it did just a few weeks ago.

Maguire under pressure

Early exits at both the Welsh Open and World Grand Prix events have left Scotland’s Stephen Maguire in real danger of missing out on a top 16 seeding at the World Championship for the first time since 2005.

Already down to 19th position on the latest race to the Crucible and having not qualified to play in Manchester, mathematically the Scot already requires at least a quarter-final run at the China Open if he is to secure a place.

Not safe

Above of 16th placed Liang Wenbo is Welshman Michael White, who will be desperate to remain there having been unfortunate to miss out on a seeding a year ago.

With a lead of £12,108 to 17th placed Ding with just two counting events remaining, White is relatively well-placed but could find himself vulnerable should one of the chasing pack win in either Manchester or Beijing.

Ahead of White come Marco Fu and Mark Williams, both of whom will feel relatively secure but will want to win at least a couple more matches to take away any remaining doubt. For Williams this will especially be the case heading into the Ladbrokes Players Championship as he has failed to qualify for the China Open.

Long shots

Of course, the way that the world ranking system now operates, with up to £185,000 available if a player were to win both the Players Championship and China Open, players further back in the rankings can still mathematically climb into top 16 contention.

Perhaps more realistically however, while most players inside the 17-30 bracket are within reach, beyond that the majority have failed to qualify for the Ladbrokes Players Championship and so would be unable to bridge the gap even by winning the China Open.

As ever, regular updates will follow here at WPBSA.com, or you can follow me for updates on Twitter @prosnookerblog