With just two events remaining prior to the all-important cut-off for the 2016 Betfred World Championship, the seeds are now beginning to fall into place in respect of the potential draw at the Crucible.
As is tradition at the Betfred World Championship, the top 16 seeded players will be placed in the draw in a very specific manner, meaning that we can already speculate as to who could play who at the last 16 stage and beyond.
For example, the top seed is always scheduled to meet the 16th seed in the second round, the second seed is always poised to meet the 15th seed and so on.
With the final cut-off prior to the Betfred World Championship due fall after the China Open on 4th April 2016, if the draw were to be made today under the latest in-running race to the Crucible, this is how it would look:
Provisional 2016 World Championship Draw
- Stuart Bingham (1) / Qualifier
- Liang Wenbo (16) / Qualifier
- Mark Allen (9) / Qualifier
- Joe Perry (8) / Qualifier
- Ronnie O’Sullivan (5) / Qualifier
- Martin Gould (12) / Qualifier
- Mark Williams (13) / Qualifier
- Shaun Murphy (4) / Qualifier
- Neil Robertson (3) / Qualifier
- Marco Fu (14) / Qualifier
- Barry Hawkins (11) / Qualifier
- Judd Trump (6) / Qualifier
- John Higgins (7) / Qualifier
- Ricky Walden (10) / Qualifier
- Michael White (15) / Qualifier
- Mark Selby (2) / Qualifier
What can change?
Although he has a comfortable lead at the top of the world rankings at present, Mark Selby will of course not be top seeded for the Crucible in 2016, with defending champion Stuart Bingham guaranteed to head the draw.
Following Neil Robertson’s first round defeat at the recent World Grand Prix however, Selby is now guaranteed to be seeded second as he looks to win his second world title, regardless of results at the upcoming Players Championship and China Open tournaments.
In respect of their second round opponents, at the time of writing Bingham would be due to take on Liang Wenbo, while Selby would face Michael White, who of course he defeated 10-9 on his way to the title back in 2014.
With the scramble for the final places in the top 16 still very much live however, this could yet change for both players with two events remaining.
Back at the top of the list, Shaun Murphy has now closed to within £5,000 of third placed Neil Robertson and with the Australian not involved at the next tournament in Manchester, could well leapfrog him in the seeding list.
With Ronnie O’Sullivan now having completed his schedule prior to Sheffield, not participating in either Manchester or Beijing, his final seeding will now depend upon the progress of those around him in both of those events. Standing fifth at the time of writing, Judd Trump and John Higgins are the two best to nudge him further down the list if they can put a run together between now and the final balls being potted in China.
With £100,000 available for the winner of the Players Championship and £85,000 at the China Open, much can of course still change between now and early April. It is though hard not to be excited by the prospect of potential Crucible quarter-finals between the likes of Selby-Higgins, Trump-Robertson and Murphy-O’Sullivan as things currently stand.
That said, with Robertson potentially in line to face Barry Hawkins at the last 16 stage (who of course defeated the Australian last season at the Crucible), and potentially the likes of multiple ranking event winners Stephen Maguire and Ding Junhui awaiting in the opening round, nothing can be taken for granted this year in Sheffield.
Two to go…
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