With two of the three qualifying rounds for the 2015 Betfred World Championship now having been completed at Ponds Forge, the picture has become clearer in respect of the long-running battle for places inside the world’s top 64 at the end of the season and indeed, places on the tour for the 2015/16 season.
Following his remarkable 10-9 victory against Dominic Dale yesterday afternoon, having at one stage trailed 9-5, Joe Swail has moved up into the world’s top 64 provisionally (that his the current ranking list with money earned at the 2013 World Championship replaced with that earned so far this week in Sheffield).
Although Joe was already in line to retain his main tour status through his position on the 2014/15 European Order of Merit, crucially now he looks set to do so by right as a member of the top 64. This means that he would retain his prize money earned over the past two seasons at the start of next term and so be better placed to climb higher still up the ranking list.
Joining him is 40-year-old Finn Robin Hull, who moved up to 64th position on the same list following victory against Betvictor Welsh Open finalist Ben Woollaston and so would retain his main tour place as it stands. Unlike Swail, Hull would not have qualified via the European list, so his rise is all the more important still for him.
Dropping out of the top 64 at their expense are Stuart Carrington, who had climbed into that bracket with victory against Peter Ebdon on Sunday, and Jamie Cope, who of course lost out on the final black to Steve Davis last Friday.
There were also defeats for other players who had been chasing a top 64 place, including Jimmy White, who like Cope, must now settle for a two-year card via the European Order of Merit.
So what can still change?
The most obvious threat to the top 64 now is Stuart Carrington, who would break into the top 64 at the expense of Robin Hull if he can defeat Li Hang over the next two days. Hull’s fate though would still be in his own hands and if he were able to join Stuart at the Crucible with victory against Igor Figueiredo, they would both make the top 64 at the expense of Nigel Bond, who would stay on through the European list.
In terms of the European Order of Merit, although the situation has been fluid throughout the week, it now looks as though it will be James Cahill who will hold on to the final spot, with Elliot Slessor narrowly missing out. For Elliot, his only realistic hope now is that Carrington is able to win tomorrow, with Hull losing out to Igor, which would give Slessor the European place currently held by Carrington.
You can view the current standings on the provisional end of season list here.