The race to qualify for the Coral World Grand Prix is over, with the top 32 players on the one-year ranking list now heading to Cheltenham to compete in the first event in the Coral Series, which runs from February 4 to 10.
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And now eyes turn to the race to Preston, with the second event to run from March 4 to 10 at the Guild Hall. The field will be cut in half, with only the top 16 to qualify for the Lancashire venue.
Can an outsider make it to Preston?
Only three counting events remain before the field is set for the Guild Hall: this week’s Coral World Grand Prix, next week’s ManBetX Welsh Open in Cardiff and the BetVictor Shoot Out in Watford. Currently the player in 16th position on the one-year list, Martin O’Donnell, has £76,500 but as much as £100,000 could be needed for a top 16 spot after the next three events. While the top ten on the list may feel relatively safe in terms of a place in Preston, everyone from Joe Perry in 11th downwards will be desperate to win matches in the next three events to make sure they progress. And with a £100,000 top prize up for grabs this week in Cheltenham, the champion could make a giant leap up the list.
Zhao Xintong has shown his potential this season
Currently there are four players in the top 16 of the one year list who are outside the top 16 of the official two-year list, and seven players in the top 32 of the one year list who are outside the top 32 of the official two-year list. China’s 22-year-old Zhao Xintong has taken advantage of snooker’s land of opportunity this season, having dropped off the tour at the end of last season and bounced straight back via Q school. Now he has £60,500 on the one year list, putting him in 23rd place with every chance to make it to the Coral Players Championship. Recent ranking event winners such as Luca Brecel (38th), Anthony McGill (73rd) and Liang Wenbo (49th) risk missing out on all three Coral events.
What about players outside the top 32?
Zhou Yuelong is currently in 33rd place on the one-year list with £47,500. While the players who have made it to Cheltenham will inevitably move further ahead (with £5,000 guaranteed in the first round), Zhou and those below him still have a chance of making it to Preston with deep runs in the next two events. With a £70,000 top prize up for grabs in Cardiff and £32,000 in Watford, in theory every player on the tour is still in the Coral Series race.
What’s next after Preston?
The third and final event in the Coral Series is the new Coral Tour Championship to take place in Llandudno from March 19 to 24. After the Coral Players Championship, the Gibraltar Open will be the final counting event before only the top eight head to North Wales to battle for a top prize of £150,000. David Gilbert is currently eighth in the list with £157,000 but it could be only players earning £200,000 or more will make it to the elite final event in the series.
Warrior strikes in Berlin
Kyren Wilson won his third ranking title on Sunday night at the D88.com German Masters in Berlin. His £80,000 prize saw him move up one place to eighth on the two-year list and he jumps to seventh on the one-year list. Runner-up Gilbert is up to 17th on the two-year list and eighth on the one-year list. Duane Jones reached the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time, and having previously earned just £3,000 this season, he boosted his total by £20,000.
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