Maguire

Closing In On The Cut: Crucible 2015

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Following Joe Perry’s victory at the 2015 Players Championship today, we are now just one event and one week from knowing the final seedings list for next month’s World Championship, with only one place now up for grabs at the Crucible, but the placement of the seeds in the draw to be determined.

There is also the small matter of a battle for the number one ranking, with Mark Selby needing to win matches in Beijing if he is to retain the top spot ahead of Ronnie O’Sullivan…

  • Click here to view the draw for the China Open
  • Click here to view the latest projected seedings
  • Click here to view the money tariffs for events this season
  • Click here to view the money being deducted at this revision

On 6th April 2015 following the China Open, the current seedings list will be revised for the sixth time this season and will be used to determine the seedings for the World Championship.

By the time of the revision, all prize money earned during the 2012/13 season, except the 2013 World Championship will have been deducted and replaced by that from this season’s events up to that date.

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

Note that for this season, where a player loses their first match at a tournament, irrespective of the round, they will not receive any prize money towards their official world ranking.

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 last 16 draw is currently shaping up as follows:

Selby (1) v Maguire (16)
Perry (9) v Murphy (8)

Hawkins (5) v Allen (12)
Carter (13) v Ding (4)

Robertson (3) v Higgins (14)
Fu (11) v Trump (6)

Walden (7) v Bingham (10)
Williams (15) v O’Sullivan (2)

Much can still change in China though as explained below…

Battle for Number 1

In terms of the seeding list for the World Championship, Mark Selby is assured of top spot as defending champion, while Ronnie O’Sullivan is certain to be seeded second for the tournament, with current third placed man Neil Robertson unable to catch him by the end of the China Open.

It is worth noting however that in terms of the official world ranking list, as I have explained in my latest WPBSA blog here, despite not making the trip to China, Ronnie O’Sullivan is poised to reclaim the world number one ranking for the first time since May 2010, unless Mark Selby can reach at least the semi-finals in Beijing.

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This is because as he was a finalist at the tournament back in 2013, Selby is defending £35,000 compared to nothing for O’Sullivan, who was of course completing his sabbatical before he returned to win the World Championship a month later.

As far as Neil Robertson is concerned, he was the winner of the 2013 China Open and is defending even more prize money than Selby, so cannot reclaim top spot prior to the World Championship.

Battle for 3-4

While they cannot overtake the two above them, there is a two-way battle for third and fourth places in the seedings list (and therefore top or bottom half of the Crucible draw), between Neil Robertson and Ding Junhui.

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Heading into Beijing, Robertson holds a lead of £10,593 to Ding, so to pass the Australian Ding must reach at least the semi-finals as he looks to gain some form heading into the World Championship.

Being in the same half of the draw as Ding, reaching the final would guarantee that Robertson would hold on to the number three spot, while if Ding were to lose in the semi-finals, then Robertson would ‘only’ need to make the quarter-finals.

Battle for 5-7

Currently occupying fifth position in the list is 2013 runner-up Barry Hawkins and for him the position is relatively straight-forward, with both Judd Trump and Ricky Walden needing to win the China Open if they are to potentially move above Hawkins.

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From Barry’s own perspective, a run to the final would also be enough to make certain of him retaining fifth place heading into the World Championship.

Battle for 6-12

The rest of the top 16 is hard to categorise as the players are relatively evenly spread, with all of the players able to move up a couple of places with a run in Beijing.

As it stands, Judd Trump looks relatively well placed to finish at least sixth, with Ricky Walden needing to reach at least the semi-finals in China to pass him, while in turn Walden should finish at least seventh, unless Shaun Murphy or Joe Perry can reach the final.

Trump

Around £14,000 behind Joe comes Stuart Bingham, while Marco Fu is a further £20,000 behind him and needs to at least reach the final if he is to climb any higher.

Mark Allen then follows a further £26,000 behind, while there is then a gap to John Higgins, who must win the title if he is to stand a chance of climbing any higher than 14th, taking into account Ali Carter’s protected seeding of 13.

For Mark Williams, following his defeat to Joe Perry in Thailand, he must now reach at least the semi-finals in Beijing if he is to climb any higher than 15th, while Stephen Maguire must at least win the title to potentially climb up above both Higgins and Williams to 14th.

Battle for the Top 16

Following early exits for Michael White and Robert Milkins in Thailand last week, the Players Championship proved to be a good event for Mark Williams and Stephen Maguire.

It has felt like a long journey for two-time world champion Williams, but following his run to the final in Bangkok he is now mathematically certain of being at the Crucible in April.

This means that there is just one spot now up for grabs, currently held by Scotland’s Stephen Maguire, who despite losing out to Michael Holt at the last 16 stage in Bangkok, extended his cushion to the chasing Michael White to £11,696.

Maguire

So what would have to happen for Maguire to miss out on claiming the final place at the Crucible?

Nearest man White would need to reach at least the semi-finals in Beijing, while behind Robert Milkins and Mark Davis would need to reach the final.

Further back, the remaining players who could still theoretically pass the Scot are Graeme Dott, Ryan Day, Liang Wenbo and Alan McManus, who would all need to win the tournament to displace him.

Of course if Maguire were to win matches in China then the task would only become more difficult for those chasers…

The Top 32

Though on the face of it a less significant bracket than in the past, for those who are able to finish between 17-32 ahead of the World Championship, will come the benefit that they will not have to face each other if they are to make it to the Crucible.

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At first glance, the battle looks to be wide open but on closer inspection current 32nd placed man Anthony McGill has only Matthew Stevens within a single win of him in Beijing, while aside from Mark King, any of the other potential chasers would need to reach at least the quarter-finals to threaten the Scot.

The Top 80

An unusual bracket for me to feature, the relevance at this cut-off is that those seeded 17-80 will be kept apart from those seeded 81-144 in the first round at the qualifiers.

Looking at the current standings, there are just four players outside of the top 80 who have qualified for the venue stages in China and who could overtake James Cahill, who currently holds 80th place.

Of those players, Elliot Slessor and Zhang Anda would need to reach at least the quarter-finals, while Zak Surety and Michael Leslie would need to reach the semi-finals in Beijing.

 

Stay tuned here at PSB for all of the latest updates from Beijing over the next week…