While it might only be early days in the race for spots at this season’s World Grand Prix, the 16 players who recently made it through qualifying to the venue stages of next month’s Shanghai Masters gave their prospects a useful boost, each adding £6,000 to their season total.
As was the case last season, the top 32 players on a one-year list, this time starting with the Australian Goldfields Open and running through to the Gdynia Open, will qualify to play in Llandudno.
Last season, the ‘cut-off’ amount would ultimately be the £42,083 earned by Michael Holt, but this season I would expect the bar to perhaps be slightly lower, given that the previous year’s World Championship will not be included, while the absence of the Wuxi Classic will also have an effect.
That being the case, 2015 Bendigo champion John Higgins is surely already certain of his place in Llandudno on £37,500, while runner-up Martin Gould probably needs to add another £15,000 to bring himself into contention.
Beyond those two, Kaspersky Lab Riga Open champion Barry Hawkins has also left himself well-placed, while Matt Selt, Tom Ford and Jamie Jones – all of whom have booked their places in Shanghai recently, have all made a strong start to the season.
As well as stealing a march on some of their more immediate rivals, the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ding Junhui are yet to pick up their cues in competition this season and will be hoping to make up for lost time when they return to action.
It is however, very early days and Higgins apart, all is still to play for over the coming months…