This week’s Coral Players Championship in Preston will go a long way to deciding the field for the new Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno which takes place later his month.
However the Gibraltar Open (March 15-17) also counts towards qualification for the third and last event in the 2019 Coral Series, and with a £25,000 top prize up for grabs in Gibraltar, that tournament could yet play a part.
The top 16 players from the one-year ranking list have made it to the Guild Hall in Preston this week (March 4 to 10, click here for the match schedule) then only the top eight, after the Gibraltar Open, will go on to Llandudno (March 19 to 24).
Stuart Bingham has moved up to eighth spot on the one-year list, with £173,000, but he is just £1,000 ahead of ninth-placed David Gilbert. So the match between those two players on Wednesday afternoon in Preston is crucial, as the loser could find himself out of the running for Llandudno, or at least needing a deep run in Gibraltar.
Seventh-placed Kyren Wilson is just £4,500 ahead of Bingham so his opening match on Tuesday evening against Jack Lisowski could also be vital. Lisowski is £32,000 behind Gilbert so he needs a long run either this week or next.
Higgins – needs to win the title in Preston to make it to Llandudno
With a top prize of £125,000 available in Preston, anyone down to Stephen Maguire in 16th could leap into the top eight by taking the title. Neither Maguire or John Higgins have entered the Gibraltar Open so this week is their last chance.
Bingham is the only player inside the top eight of the one-year list and outside the top eight of the official two-year list. Higgins is officially fourth in the world but lies 11th on the one-year list, despite his run to the semi-finals of the Indian Open which earned him £15,000.
Matthew Selt won his first ranking title in India and his £50,000 pay day sees him jump 16 places on the two-year list to 35th. Lyu Haotian reached his first ranking final and his £25,000 moved him into the top 32 for the first time, he’s up seven spots to 32nd.
There are four counting events to go in the Race to the Crucible. Joe Perry, Ali Carter and Jimmy Robertson will be looking to gain ground on the top 16 in that race this week.
Tickets for all of the above events are on sale now – for details click here