The conclusion of the German Masters marks the fifth mid-season revision of the seeding list and although many eyes will now be on the latest provisional money list, which will determine tour places and come into force at the start of next season, there is one last, crucial cut-off to keep an eye on this year on the points list.
The final, sixth mid-season revision of 2013/14 comes at the end of March, following the Players Championship event currently scheduled to take place in Thailand and the final list following that event will be used to determine the seeding list for the 2014 World Championship at the Crucible.
While there remain five events still to be played between now and that cut-off, the new provisional list, on which all points set to drop between now and then have already been removed, throws up more than a few surprises, with Mark Williams, Matthew Stevens, Graeme Dott and Mark Allen among those who as it stands, would have to qualify to play at the Crucible this year…
- Click here to view the latest projected seedings list (race to the Crucible)
- Click here to view the seeding list after the 2014 German Masters
- Click here to view the ranking points schedule for all events this season
2014 World Championship – Draw Structure
As was the case with the Australian Goldfields Open and Shanghai Masters tournaments earlier in the season, the 2014 World Championship will not be played out under the new ‘flat’ draw system, now common to the other ranking events.
Instead, the qualifying structure is as follows:
Round 1 Last 128 Seeds 65-96 v 97-128 unseeded players
Round 2 Last 96 Seeds 33-64 v 32 qualifiers
Round 3 Last 64 Winners v each other
Round 4 Last 48 Seeds 17-32 v 16 qualifiers
As ever therefore, the first crucial point in the rankings will be the top 16, or in this year’s case, the top 15, with defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan assured of this year’s top seeding.
The top 16 seeds will be seeded straight through to play at the Crucible Theatre, while those seeded 17-32 will be put through the angst of a best of 19 qualifying match in Sheffield just days before Ronnie O’Sullivan gets his title defence underway under the famous twinkle lights.
The next bracket to keep an eye on is the top 32 (or 31 due to the ‘Ronnie factor’ outlined above), but this year this particular section takes on even greater significance than it has previously. This is because unlike last year, those seeded 33-48 will have to play not just two, but three qualifying matches if they are to make it to the Crucible.
Another difference compared to last year is that the ‘top 48’ bracket is no longer a factor, meaning that the next section to keep an eye on will be the top 64, with those inside spared from having to begin from the very first round.
Battles to watch
While it will probably come as no great surprise now to see the likes of Mark Williams, Matthew Stevens and Graeme Dott ranked provisionally outside of the top 15 on the list, no doubt it will come as a shock to see that Mark Allen’s projected ranking for Sheffield is 16th, which becomes 17th due to O’Sullivan. In other words, as it currently stands, Mark would have to qualify for the Crucible, for the first time since 2008.
Why has Mark fallen down the list? A big part of the reason is that his points from his victory at the Haikou World Open back in 2012 will be removed from his tally prior to the next cut-off, while his early exit at the Crucible to Cao Yupeng two years ago leaves him little to defend from that period.
On the plus side for Mark however, he will gain further points thanks to his qualification for the Players Championship Grand Finals which I have not yet added to my tally, while he still has tournaments in which to accumulate points.
Could Higgins have to qualify for the Crucible?
Other players who are not yet safe inside the top 15 include Robert Milkins, Joe Perry and Ricky Walden, as well as potentially four-time world champion John Higgins, who is very much among those needing results between now and April to be sure of his Crucible place.
Looking further down to the second tier, with 4,000 points separating over ten players, there is again much to play for, players like Ken Doherty (who I noticed earlier has had the worst season of any top 50 player, in points terms at least) and Michael White not yet assured of places in the final qualifying round.
With the entry date for the AT4 event coming up, as well as places up for grabs at the Players Championship Finals next month, it will be fascinating to keep an eye on the various battles over the coming weeks.
The picture will become clearer once we know who has qualified for the Players Championship Finals, however already can see that there are some potentially fascinating stories to keep an eye on…