As we reach the semi-final stages of the ongoing UK Championship, the identity of the 16 players who will compete at the 2015 Masters has now been confirmed, with defeat for Mark Davis meaning that nobody else can break into the all-important top 16 places in the rankings.
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Following the conclusion of the UK Championship tomorrow, the top 15 players in the updated world rankings, plus Ali Carter, following the decision to freeze his seeding at number 13 until the end of the season, will qualify to play at the 2015 Masters in January.
After their respective defeats to Graeme Dott and Anthony McGill earlier in the tournament, both John Higgins and Robert Milkins were sweating on other results to learn whether they would be part of the line-up for this season’s Masters, with up to six players still in contention at the start of play on Thursday.
Coming closest to denying Milkins a second consecutive appearance at the Alexandra Palace was Graeme Dott, who needed to reach the semi-finals to do so, but agonisingly for him lost out 6-5 to Stuart Bingham yesterday afternoon, from 5-3 up.
With Anthony McGill and later Mark Davis also exiting the tournament, both Higgins and Milkins are now safe, Davis having needed a run to the final in order to qualify at Robert’s expense.
There are however other matters still to be determined, namely who will be the top eight seeds in London, with the advantage of that being an easier first round draw for that tournament, in theory at least.
At the moment, Ricky Walden holds on to the eighth and final place in that bracket, but would miss out, should either Judd Trump reach the final, or Stephen Maguire go on to successfully win the tournament.
I understand that it is hoped that the draw for the opening round of the Masters will take place tomorrow during the final here in York, as was the case 12 months ago, but may depend upon whether the seedings have been finally confirmed.