The Dafabet Masters returns to the Alexandra Palace from 13-20 January 2019 and with six ranking events still to be completed we can see which players are safe and who will need a strong finish to 2018 to avoid missing out.
Once again this year, the top 16 on the official world ranking list following the UK Championship will qualify to play at snooker’s most prestigious invitational event. This period therefore includes all prize money earned at ranking events from the 2016 Scottish Open to the 2018 UK Championship in York this December. These points are illustrated on the latest Race to the Masters table.
The first player who can be absolutely certain of his place in London is Mark Allen, who despite his current ranking position of number 11 is of course guaranteed to be top seed after he broke his triple crown duck at this year’s event back in January. In the event that Allen were to drop outside of the top 16 on the official ranking list, he would therefore take the place of the 16th ranked player.
Below him, the likes of Mark Selby and Ronnie O’Sullivan are more than safe, with in fact everybody down to 11th placed Neil Robertson – who of course notably missed out on qualification a year ago – more than £100,000 up on the current projected cut-off of £232,025.
Not yet safe
With that amount guaranteed to rise with plenty of prize money to be won over the coming months, the likes of Luca Brecel (£283,500), Ryan Day (£276,000) and Stephen Maguire (£261,025) will be looking for further good performances to secure their positions as early as possible.
Currently occupying the penultimate place is Marco Fu (£255,000), a semi-finalist at the Alexandra Palace as recently as 2017 before a dip in form as a result of problems with his vision which culminated in laser eye surgery earlier this year. Happily, Marco has enjoyed a much-improved start to the 2018/19 season and will be looking to extend his current advantage of £22,975 to the chasing pack and confirm his place at the Masters once again.
The man currently ‘on the bubble’ is 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham (£240,500), also a recent Masters semi-finalist (2016) and an ever-present at the event since 2012. With a lead of just £8,475 over his closest challenger, Bingham will need a strong run-in to the year if he is to extend his qualification streak further.
The chasing pack
Currently leading the chasing pack in 17th position is Scotland’s Anthony McGill (£232,025) who made his debut at the Alexandra Palace a year ago, ahead of a player looking to make his Masters bow this time around in the shape of the increasingly consistent Jack Lisowski (£221,600).
Further back, the likes of Ali Carter (£218,250) and David Gilbert (£210,150) are also still within reasonable range of Bingham, while Graeme Dott (£201,000), Yan Bingtao (£195,525) and Joe Perry (£189,900) will all need at least one good run between now and the end of the year to bring themselves back into contention.
But while only the players within reasonable range of the top 16 are currently shown on the Race to the Masters, with some big money events still to be played any tour player could still vault up the list with a good run between now and the end of the year.
The next ranking event to be completed will be the Evergrande China Championship, to be staged across 24-30 September.