The Betway UK Championship, which got underway today, is the final leg in the race to qualify for the Masters in January. It’s also the penultimate chance for players to boost their positions on the one-year list and make it to the World Grand Prix in December.
So while the battle for the famous UK Championship trophy will be top of the agenda over the next fortnight, there will be subplots developing with places in two more huge tournaments at stake.
At the end of the Betway UK Championship, only the top 16 seeds will qualify for the Masters, snooker’s biggest invitation event. They will be Stuart Bingham, as defending champion, plus the next 15 players from the official two-year ranking list. Click here to see the Race to the Masters, which shows the provisional list as it stands.
Gary Wilson is currently in 16th place but just £8,500 separates him from Anthony McGill in 19th. Wilson is seeded to meet 17th-placed Jack Lisowski in the third round of the Betway UK Championship so if both players get that far it could prove a crucial battle. With a top prize of £200,000 on offer for the current event, over 60 players outside the top 16 still have a chance. To read more about permutations click here, and for updates on the race throughout the next two weeks click here.
After the Betway UK Championship comes the Scottish Open (December 7 to 13) which is the final counting event to qualify for the World Grand Prix (December 14 to 20). Only the top 32 players on the one-year ranking list will be in the field.
Judd Trump won the Matchroom.Live Northern Ireland Open on Sunday, beating Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-7 in the final, and the £70,000 top prize sees Trump extend his lead at the top of the one-year list with a total of £180,500.
O’Sullivan was previously in 46th position but his £30,000 runner-up prize boosts him to seventh and leaves him on course for a World Grand Prix spot. David Grace reached the semi-finals of a ranking event for the second time in his career and the £20,000 vaults him from 34th to eighth, while Ali Carter was the other losing semi-finalist and he’s up from 80th to 13th.
Big names currently outside the top 32 of the one-year list and needing a deep run over the next two events include Stephen Maguire (53rd), David Gilbert (57th), Jack Lisowski (67th) and Mark Williams (75th).
In 2021, the top 16 on the one-year list will go on to the Players Championship and only the top eight will make the Tour Championship.
On the official two-year ranking list, Trump maintains his lead of £611,500 over second-placed O’Sullivan. Grace climbs two places to 65th and is now just £3,000 away from a top 64 ranking.