This week’s Coral Welsh Open in Cardiff has produced some fascinating results. There has been much discussion among players and in the media about the seeding structure.
Zhou Yuelong is playing in his first ranking event quarter-final
Only the top 16 players are seeded into a flat draw, with the remaining 112 players drawn at random. This week, only three of the top 16 have made it to the quarter-finals.
At first glance it might be assumed that top 16 players have fallen at the hands of similarly ranked players who they might not normally face so early.
However, of the 13 top 16 players to have lost so far, only three have done so to opponents ranked inside the world’s top 32. Eight have lost to players outside the top 64.
Top 16 exits (opponent and their tournament seeding in brackets):
• Mark Selby – lost to Yan Bingtao (68)
• John Higgins – lost to Sam Baird (48)
• Ding Junhui – lost to Robin Hull (53)
• Shaun Murphy – lost to Josh Boileau (113)
• Neil Robertson – lost to Lee Walker (92)
• Marco Fu – lost to Ross Muir (69)
• Mark Allen – lost to Mei Xiwen (79)
• Joe Perry – lost to Anthony McGill (19)
• Ali Carter – lost to Hossein Vafaei (80)
• Liang Wenbo – lost to Michael White (23)
• Ronnie O’Sullivan – lost to Mark Davis (31)
• Kyren Wilson – lost to Sean O’Sullivan (84)
• Mark Williams – lost to Elliot Slessor (112)
Three players have reached the quarter-finals of a ranking event for the first time: Zhou Yuelong, Stuart Carrington and Scott Donaldson.
World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “What these facts highlight is the strength in depth on the tour. When you see players ranked inside the top 16 losing to those outside the top 100, it underlines the fact that the fear factor is gone, and the players lower down believe that they can beat the best, regardless of the draw structure. It’s fantastic to see talented young players making a name for themselves, getting to the later stages and creating stories.
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“We have a variety of seeding structures for different events. At the UK Championship, number 1 players number 128 in the first round, 2 plays 127 and so on, which might be considered the fairest structure. But if every tournament had the same structure it would be more difficult to establish an identity for each event. Other sports follow similar principals, for example certain tennis events only seed the top 16 in a flat draw, while football’s FA Cup has a completely random draw from the last 64.
“Our excellent ticket sales and television figures this season strongly indicate that snooker is attracting new fans while retaining our core audience.”