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Mar 17 2014

Closing In On The Cut: Crucible 2014 (Updated)

Selby

Following the conclusion of the 2014 Haikou World Open yesterday, the picture is now somewhat clearer as far as the World Championship seedings are concerned, with the identity of the top 16 players seeded through to the Crucible Theatre now confirmed.

Still, there are still changes that can occur during the upcoming Players Championship Grand Finals tournament in Preston, both to the placing of the seeds in the main draw and also the top 64 bracket…

  • Click here to view the draw for the Players Championship Grand Finals
  • Click here to view the latest projected seedings
  • Click here to view the points tariffs for events this season

On 29th March 2014 following the Players Championship Grand Finals, the seedings list will be revised for the final time this season and will be used to determine the seedings for the 2014 World Championship.

By that date, all points earned from the 2011/2 season, except those from the 2012 China Open and 2012 World Championship, will have been deducted and replaced by those from this season up to that date.

As always, I have already removed those points from the appropriate column on my latest projected seedings list, to show the situation as up to date as possible…

The Crucible Draw

For those who may not be aware, unlike other tournaments, the top 16 seeded players at the World Championship are placed in the draw in a very specific manner, 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.

That being the case, the logic for which is explained in more depth during my recent post here, the last 16 draw is currently shaping up as follows following the Haikou World Open…

O’Sullivan (1) v Perry (16)
Fu (9) v Murphy (8)

Bingham (5) v Walden (12)
Davis (13) v Ding (4)

Selby (3) v Carter (14)
Higgins (11) v Hawkins (6)

Trump (7) v Maguire (10)
Allen (15) v Robertson (2)

Though the names are now set, the placement of the seeds can still change during the Players Championship Grand finals as explained below…

Battle for Seeding 2

Despite his last 16 exit to Marco Fu on Hainan Island, Australia’s Neil Robertson is now certain to head into this season’s World Championship as world number one (and therefore second seed), as he holds a lead of 4,320 points to second placed Mark Selby, with just 2,160 points still to play for (factoring in minimum points already allocated), in Preston.

While he will not be top seed at the Crucible, he does at least have the benefit of being placed in the opposite half of the draw to defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, who of course has not lost at the venue since 2011.

Battle for Seedings 3-4

And the incentive, if it can be classed as such, for Mark Selby and Ding Junhui behind Robertson to finish ranked at number two, would be that they would be seeded third for the World Championship and therefore join the Australian in the bottom half of the draw, avoiding O’Sullivan until potentially the final.

Following his run in China this week, Selby has moved back above Ding into second and with a lead of 820 points, his fate remains in his own hands.

Selby

If Ding were to win the event in Preston, Selby must reach the final to remain above him in the rankings, while he would need to reach the semi-finals if Ding were to finish as runner-up.

Should Ding lose at the semi-final stage, a first round win against David Gilbert would be sufficient for Selby, whereas if Ding were to lose before the last four, he would not be able to pass Mark, regardless of what the Jester from Leicester does.

Battle for Seedings 5-9

With five players separated by 3,650 points between Stuart Bingham and Marco Fu, there is scope for movement in this section of the rankings, which could see Stuart, Marco, Barry Hawkins, Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy switch places in the draw.

Most immediately, Stuart has a lead of 980 points to next man Barry Hawkins, but interestingly these two are poised to meet at the last 16 stage in Preston, if they are able to come through tough opening ties against Ryan Day and Stephen Maguire respectively.

bingham

Also in their half of the draw is Judd Trump, who with a run to the semi-finals could overtake Hawkins, while he would need to win the event and hope that Bingham fails to reach the quarter-finals if he is to move up to fifth in the seeding list.

Shaun Murphy and Marco Fu would both have to win the tournament and hope that Trump loses early if they are to move up above him, while Marco must essentially progress a round further than Shaun if they are to switch places, although this would not change the fact that they are set to meet at the last 16 stage of the World Championship as things stand.

Battle for Seedings 10-11

Scottish duo Stephen Maguire and John Higgins currently hold on seedings 10-11 and there is potential for the two to swap positions, if Higgins can reach at least the final in Preston.

To make absolutely sure he stays ahead of the four-time world champion, Maguire must reach at least the last four, while an opening round win against Barry Hawkins would be enough should Higgins lose in the final.

If Higgins is unable to make the final in Preston, then the two will remain as they currently are in the draw.

Battle for Seedings 12-16

The remaining movement could occur between the final five players in the Crucible draw, with all except Ali Carter set to compete in Preston.

Arguably the spot that those in this section would like to avoid if possible is the 16th and final seeding, eg 15th place in the rankings, currently occupied by Joe Perry. This is because whoever takes this position will be set to meet two-time defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan at the last 16 stage, though the alternatives of Neil Robertson and Ding Junhui for finishing higher are hardly easy opponents either!

Perry

As the situation stands, the likelihood is that either Mark Allen or Joe Perry will take that final seeding, Perry needing at least a quarter-final run, potentially more depending on how far Allen gets in the event.

To guarantee that he will avoid being in O’Sullivan’s section, Allen would need to reach the semi-finals in Preston, which would be enough to put him above Ali Carter and up to 14th in the seedings list.

For Carter to drop down to the final seeding and poised to meet O’Sullivan for a third successive season at the Crucible, Allen would have to reach the last four, with Joe Perry winning the title.

As for Ricky Walden and Mark Davis above, effectively whoever goes the furthest in Preston will finish the higher, with Walden set to take the position should they both exit at the same stage.

The Top 32

A particularly tight section ahead of the Haikou World Open, the top 32 are now set, with Michael White gaining the win that he ultimately needed in China to finish in the bracket, while Andrew Higginson missed out by just five points.

The Top 64

With the top 48 no longer a bracket that will keep a difference as far as World Championship seedings are concerned, the next section to look at is the top 64, who will have one fewer matches to play than those ranked lower.

Having reached the last 16 stage in China, Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh ensured that he will be ranked inside the top 64 at the next cut-off, currently at the expense of Scott Donaldson, who drops to 65th.

Effectively the battle is now between Donaldson and 64th placed Gerard Greene, both of whom are qualified for Preston, while Steve Davis could be the one to drop out if both have a run at the venue. For Gerard, a victory against Ricky Walden would be enough, while Donaldson would need to cause a real shock and defeat Ronnie O’Sullivan, as well as win his next match to displace Davis.

 

So we shall see. In reality, the Players Championship Grand Finals and the significant prize money to go with it will itself prove the primary motivation for those involved in the event, but as explained above, there are a few interesting themes to keep an eye on in the background ahead of the World Championship…

  • E JONES

    can i ask? why is it such a big deal avoiding Ronnie.

    lets get him early and send him home ASAP.

    • Matt

      I know what you mean, but if I were in the draw I’d rather be away from him than not. Doubt many would admit it, but I doubt I’d be the only one.

      • E JONES

        if i was a player and in the draw id want to play Ronnie and beat him. you only improve by pitting yourself against the best players at any level if you would rather avoid him that tells me you cant really cut it at top level.

  • darren

    well in bottom half great chance to reach final in top half not much chance of getting to final

  • E JONES

    if reching finals is their ultimate ambition they might as well pack it in now

  • terry180

    jamie jones had a good run at the crucible two seasons ago since then is career has gone backwards .and the same thing has happened to fellow welsh man michael white