With six days completed at the Betfred World Championship qualifiers we now know the 32 players who will battle it out to join the world’s top 16 at the Crucible in just four days time.
A much clearer picture is also emerging in respect of the battle for ‘Tour Survival’ and below we summarise all of the key movements and look ahead to what might still change.
The Story So Far
So what has changed during the first six days of this year’s most iconic tournament?
The Top 64
- Elliot Slessor and Liam Highfield have broken into the top 64, each winning two matches so far in Sheffield
- The pair replace Robbie Williams and Jak Jones, Williams having started the tournament provisionally ranked 58th
The One-Year List
- Both Jones and Williams have effectively taken the places of Slessor and Highfield on the one-year list in a straight swap.
- Michael White has been overtaken by Fergal O’Brien, with the Irishman progressing at least one match further in Sheffield
- Jordan Brown remains among the four set to receive a new tour card following his two wins so far
What can still change?
From an initial field of 144 to just 48 heading into the final qualifying round, there remain nine ranked outside of the top 64 who can still affect how the battle for Tour Survival will unfold.
- Fergal O’Brien
- Jordan Brown
- Sam Baird
- Ian Burns
- Ashley Carty
- Alexander Ursenbacher
- Louis Heathcote
- Jamie Clarke
- Eden Sharav
Of these, Burns, Ursenbacher, Heathcote and Sharav are currently on the first season of their two-year tour card so are not themselves in danger, however could affect other players if they were to break into the top 64 with a deep run in Sheffield.
Uniquely, the remaining five players, whether 66th placed Fergal O’Brien, or Jamie Clarke in 83rd place, all stand within one match not only of a Crucible appearance, but a renewed tour card. This is because of the change this year which will see every player who qualifies for the Crucible guaranteed a two-year tour card from the start of next season, even if they finish outside of the regular qualifying positions.
Themes to follow
The lowest ranked player inside the top 64 who would not earn a reprieve via the one-year list, Joe O’Connor must hope that no more than two players overtake him during the remainder of the tournament to stay on tour.
Defeats for Mark Joyce, Jak Jones and Ken Doherty today have strengthened his position significantly, leaving Liam Highfield, Fergal O’Brien and a more distant Jordan Brown as his closest competitors.
If O’Connor were to slip out of the top 64, it could also provide a lifeline for Welshman Michael White through the one-year list, as he currently faces relegation following his third round defeat to Noppon Saengkham.
Of those currently outside of the top 64, only Fergal O’Brien can break into that group over the next two days, with victory against Liang Wenbo on Monday enough to see him climb to as high as 60th position. This would be at the expense of Mark Joyce, who would take his place on the one-year list.
The next closest player to the top 64 is Jordan Brown, although he would need to reach the quarter-finals next month if he were to break into that bracket.
In respect of the one-year list, defeat to Liang would not see O’Brien fall outside of the top four of the one-year list over the next two days at least, with Ashley Carty his nearest challenger needing to reach the last 16 to overtake the Irishman.
Follow the latest updates via our Tour Survival blog over the coming days HERE.