There are still nearly two months to run before the start of the 2017 Ladbrokes World Grand Prix, but in fact there are just two events still to be completed before the field for Preston is set, meaning that the race to qualify has already reached a critical phase.
Held last season in mid-March, this term the tournament moves to a new slot from 6-12 February, immediately following the conclusion of the German Masters. While this may seem like some time away, there are now only the Scottish Open and the venue stages in Berlin at which players can add counting prize money to their totals.
Who will qualify?
Although the event has a new venue as it switches from Llandudno to Preston, as was the case last season, 32 players will contest the Ladbrokes World Grand Prix in 2017.
Specifically, these will be the top 32 players on the one-year ranking list, which will include prize money earned from the start of the 2016 Riga Masters until the end of the German Masters on 5th February 2017. This period covers 12 events, ten of which have been completed, as well as the qualifiers for Germany.
This does not include prize money earned from maximum or high break prizes.
The state of play
Looking at the latest one-year list, which includes prize money earned at the German Masters qualifiers, the top 21 have already passed the £50,000 barrier, which in the absence of knowing exactly what the amount required will be acts as a useful guideline.
In terms of names, there are no surprises, with the majority of the higher-ranked players on the two-year official ranking list, comfortably placed on the one-year list.
But how about those who will be looking for results over the course of the next two events, to make absolutely sure of qualification?
22nd – Ryan Day – £47,362*
23rd– Mark Allen – £45,725*
24th – Jamie Jones – £43,862*
25th – Anthony Hamilton – £43,525*
26th – Zhou Yuelong – £42,550
27th – Michael White – £42,225*
28th – Dominic Dale – £41,125*
29st – Yan Bingtao – £39,100*
30th – Tom Ford – £39,025*
31st – Matthew Stevens – £37,587
32nd – Luca Brecel – £37,150
33rd – Ben Woollaston – £35,625*
34th– Kurt Maflin – £34,212
35th – Zhang Anda – £32,000
36th – Jimmy Robertson – £31,562
37th – Xiao Guodong – £31,525
38th – Andrew Higginson – £31,425
39th– Oliver Lines – £30,312
40th– Mark Davis – £30,275
*player has qualified for the German Masters
Of the players currently in the top 32 in the one-year list, seven are outside of the top 32 on the official ranking list. These include Northern Ireland Open semi-finalist Anthony Hamilton (68), and Paul Hunter Classic finalist Tom Ford (36), Welsh trio Jamie Jones (33), Dominic Dale (37) and Matthew Stevens (42), as well as Chinese prospects Zhou Yuelong (40) and Yan Bingtao (70).
As it stands, the highest ranked player currently set to miss out on Preston is Martin Gould, whose best result of the season so far is a solitary last 16 run in India, leaving him £8,600 adrift of the cut-off mark.
The furthest top 32 player who is struggling on the one-year list however is Scotland’s Alan McManus, who with just £18,900 to his name so far this term and already out of the German Masters, must reach at least the semi-finals of the Scottish Open, more likely the final if he is to qualify.
Also currently out of play and not going to be in Germany are Mark Davis, Matt Selt and Graeme Dott, while Ben Woollaston and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh will be in Berlin and so have extra opportunities to add to their tallies.
Of those either side of the top 32 cut-off point on the one-year list, Matthew Stevens (31) and Luca Brecel (32) are already out of Berlin, while 33rd placed Ben Woollaston is the only player of the immediate chasers who will be in Germany.
For some players then, next week’s Scottish Open will be the final chance for them to add to their tallies and so further updates will follow during the week, with a full run-down ahead of the decisive event in Berlin next February.