The UK Seedings Race

While the International Championship continues apace, following exits for Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Williams and John Higgins today (results here), rather than posting a round-up of the results, I instead wanted to set out the details of a change to the seedings system, which will determine the draw for next month’s UK Championship…

  • Click here to view the latest projected seedings list

Already during the 2013/14 season, we have seen three full-ranking event tournaments played under World Snooker’s new ‘flat 128 draw’ system, namely the Wuxi Classic, Indian Open and the ongoing International Championship event in Chengdu.

At all of them, the players have been seeded as follows:

Round 1     Last 128         Seeds 1-64 v 64 unseeded players

Round 2     Last 64           64 Rd 1 winners v Each other

Round 3     Last 32           32 Rd 2 winners v Each other

In other words, the the top 64 seeds were kept apart during the opening last 128 round and selected at random to play one of the 64 remaining unseeded players.

For the UK Championship however, the format is slightly different, as explained within the event’s entry pack:

The seeding structure for this tournament will be as follows:

Round 1     Last 128     seed 1 v seed 128, seed 2 v seed 127 and continue until seed 64 v seed 65.

Round 2     Last 64     seed 1 v seed 64, seed 2 v seed 63 and continue until seed 32 v seed 33.

Round 3     Last 32     seed 1 v seed 32, seed 2 v seed 31 and continue until seed 16 v seed 17.

Round 4     Last 16     seed 1 v seed 16, seed 2 v seed 15 and continue until seed 8 v seed 9.

All of the above assumes the highest seeded player always wins however when a lower seeded player wins a match the draw will NOT be changed and players will remain in their draw position as published and go through to compete against the next player as it appears in the draw.

The round structure will be as follows:

Pre Qualifier     (if required)     Up to 8 players drawn at random from any first year Tour Players.

Round 1     Last 128     Seeds 1-64 v 4 winners from Pre qualifier + 60 unseeded players

Round 2     Last 64     64 Rd 1 winners v Each other

Round 3     Last 32     32 Rd 2 winners v Each other

So in simple terms, what this means is that following this week’s International Championship, when the seeding list will be finalised for the UK Championship, we will have a fairly good idea as to what the draw for the York event will look like, subject to confirmation of who has entered the event.

For example, we will know that top seeded Mark Selby (as defending champion), will take on whoever is seeded 128th, while second seeded Ronnie O’Sullivan (as reigning world champion), will meet the 127th seed, whoever that may be. This continues down to 64th seeded Adam Duffy (due to the non-entry of Stephen Lee), who assuming that everyone else above him enters, will play the man set to be seeded 65th, Tian Pengfei.

No doubt that the official draw will follow fairly swiftly next week, with the entry deadline for the event having already passed earlier in the month.

So what are we to make of the change? I do not have a particularly strong view either way and do not have the official line on why they are treating this event differently, but I rather suspect that this might be a compromise agreed with the BBC, to introduce a flat 128 draw to one of their three events.

In other words, this way is likely to provide the bigger names with a more comfortable path to the latter stages, than the system that could have allowed for example Stephen Maguire to have played an in-form player such as Kyren Wilson (who beat him yesterday), in the last 128. Under the alternative system, at least the top 16 or so are now set to play either amateur opponents, or professionals with few wins to their names so far during the season.

Attempting to anticipate the draw, assuming that everybody enters inside the top 90 or so, aside from the suspended Stephen Lee, we look set to see an opening round clash between Indian duo Aditya Mehta (63) and Pankaj Advani (66), while Jimmy White (56) would play Paul Davison (73) for example.

Though it is difficult to speculate too far beyond this, as it would only take one non-entry to change things entirely, it is nevertheless something to keep an eye on during the remainder of the week…