Who will rule the Rock? The last 128 of the Gibraltar Open runs from Friday to Sunday this week.
This week’s Gibraltar Open is the final counting event in the race to qualify for next week’s new Coral Tour Championship.
Only the top eight players on the one-year ranking list qualify for the third and last event in the Coral Snooker Series, to run from March 19 to 24 at Venue Cymru in Llandudno. Six players are already sure of their place: Mark Allen, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, Mark Selby and Mark Williams.
That leaves two more spots available and there are three players in contention: Stuart Bingham, Kyren Wilson and David Gilbert. Bingham is in a strong position with £188,000, with Wilson just £500 behind on £187,500 and Gilbert a further £5,500 behind on £182,000.
Bingham’s win over Gilbert in the first round in Preston put him in a strong position
That means Gilbert must at least reach the semi-finals in Gibraltar, worth £6,000 to have a chance. And if both Bingham and Wilson win their opening matches on the Rock, earning £1,500, then Gilbert will need to make the final, worth £12,000. All three play their opening match on Saturday – for the schedule click here.
With £20,000 guaranteed for the first round losers in Llandudno, and a top prize of £150,000 available, there is a huge incentive to make it to North Wales.
Next on the one-year list is Jack Lisowski with £155,000, but even the £25,000 top prize in Gibraltar would not be enough to get him into the top eight.
Ronnie O’Sullivan won the Coral Players Championship in Preston on Sunday, beating Neil Robertson in the final. The Rocket moves up to second on the one-year list with £353,500.
He is also up to second on the official two-year list, moving ahead of Mark Williams. Mark Selby has topped the list for 49 consecutive months, but O’Sullivan is now just £72,625 behind him and could become the new world number one by winning the title in Llandudno.
In the race for the new Coral Cup, awarded to the player who wins the most money across the three Coral tournaments, O’Sullivan has now moved into joint first position with Judd Trump on £130,000.
There are just three counting events to go in the Race to the Crucible so Bingham and Gilbert – 15th and 16th respectively in that list – could give themselves a huge boost in that race by qualifying for Llandudno. The last counting event is the China Open (April 1-7) with a top prize of £225,000 available, so there will be at least 20 players in Beijing with a chance to leap into the elite from outside the top 16.
Tickets for all of the above events are on sale now – for details click here