As we prepare for the start of the second round of the 2015 Betway UK Championship, it is an opportune time to take a look at the latest standings in the race for places at January’s Dafabet Masters.
The world’s top 16 ranked players immediately following the Betway UK Championship will qualify to play at the Alexandra Palace and Michael White, the man currently occupying 15th place in that race, is already out of the tournament following his 6-5 defeat to Sydney Wilson on Tuesday.
White is looking to make his debut in snooker’s biggest invitational event, but how does his defeat affect his prospects with over a week to run at the Barbican Centre?
The positions in and around the crucial top 16 cut-off in the latest Masters race are as follows, with prize money already earned at the Betway UK Championship included and money earned at the 2013 UK Championship to be deducted following this year’s event already removed:
- 15th – Michael White – £171,883
- 16th – Stephen Maguire – £166,358
- 17th – Ryan Day – £156,299
- 18th – Robert Milkins – £147,761
The chasing pack
The closest player behind White then is Scotland’s Stephen Maguire, who himself was given a real scare at the Betway UK Championship, before coming through a deciding frame against 1992 champion Jimmy White on Thursday evening.
The win sees Stephen close to within £5,525 of Michael in the Masters race, meaning that he would need to win two further matches to reach the last 16 stage in order to overtake the Welshman. Next up for Maguire is a match with former ranking event finalist Jamie Cope, with either Mark Davis or Ken Doherty awaiting in the third round if he were to win that.
Maguire’s opening round win also strengthens his position as it means that the nearest chaser to him, 17th placed Ryan Day would now have to reach at least the quarter-finals to overtake the 2004 UK champion.
Irrespective of Maguire’s position however, Michael White’s defeat leaves the Indian Open champion unable to defend his position against Day this week, with a quarter-final run from Ryan enough to see him overtake his countryman.
Ryan’s draw now sees him face Dechawat Poomjaeng, with either Mark Joyce or Sydney Wilson awaiting in the last 32. If he were able to move to within a match of a place inside the top 16, he could face former UK winner Mark Selby in a potentially decisive match.
Beyond Day, with £150,000 on offer to the winner in York, almost every player in the draw could mathematically break into the top 16 by going all the way in the tournament.
Robert Milkins, David Gilbert, Graeme Dott and Mark Davis would have to reach at least the semi-finals to do so, while those from 22nd placed Kyren Wilson to 34th placed Fergal O’Brien would need to earn £70,000 by reaching the final to stand any chance.
Beyond O’Brien, nothing less than the title would be sufficient to be able to overtake 16th placed Maguire as it stands.
The O’Sullivan factor
Of course there is a further factor to consider, as the permutations suggested above are calculated on the basis that all eligible players accept their invitation to the Dafabet Masters by the entry deadline of 1st December 2015.
There has been recent unconfirmed speculation in the media as to the participation of Ronnie O’Sullivan in particular and the potential absence of the five-time Dafabet Masters champion would of course change the position significantly.
In that eventuality, it would be effectively become a race to 17th, with Ryan Day holding onto the last qualifying place. To overhaul him at present, his closest challengers Robert Milkins, David Gilbert, Graeme Dott and Mark Davis would need to reach at least the quarter-finals.
Of course, the situation will develop further over the coming days and a further update will follow the conclusion of the last 64 stage on Sunday evening.
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