Ronnie is the defending Champion in the Players Championship 2019, scheduled in Preston from March, 4, 2019 on. He’s currently 5th on the one year list and set to face Barry Hawkins in the first round – last 16 – with the winner of John Higgins v Mark Selby coming next should he win.
This week’s BetVictor Shoot Out in Watford (February 21-24) is the last counting event in the race to qualify for the Coral Players Championship. The top 16 on the one-year ranking list will then go through to the Guild Hall in Preston for the second event in the 2019 Coral Series, running from March 4-10.
Who has already made it to the Guild Hall?
The top 15 players on the one-year list are already assured of a place in Preston. They are:
That leaves only Stephen Maguire in 16th place unsure whether he will be in the field at the Guild Hall. He has not entered the BetVictor Shoot Out so he must hope results go his way. However there are only four players who can overtake him, and all of them would have to win the £32,000 top prize in Watford to go above Maguire and earn a place in Preston. They are:
As it stands there are three players – Ali Carter, Joe Perry and Jimmy Robertson – who are inside the top 16 of the one-year list and outside the top 16 of the official two-year list.
What’s next after Preston?
The third and last event in the Coral Series is the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno from March 19 to 24, with only the top eight on the list to earn a spot in North Wales, with the cut off point coming after the Gibraltar Open (note that the Indian Open does not count towards Coral Players Championship qualification, though it does count towards the Coral Tour Championship). David Gilbert currently lies eighth with £169,500, just £6,500 ahead of Stuart Bingham in ninth. As it stands Gilbert is the only player inside the top eight of the one-year list and outside the top eight of the two-year list.
Neil Robertson won his second ranking title of the season on Sunday night, beating Bingham 9-7 in the final of the ManBetX Welsh Open. His £70,000 top prize lifted him from tenth to eighth on the two-year list and from sixth to third on the one-year list. Bingham could have gone ahead of Gilbert into the top eight of the one-year list by winning in Cardiff, but instead he stays ninth. There are six counting events to go in the Race to the Crucible and Bingham’s £30,000 is very welcome as he climbs to 15th.
Joe O’Connor got to the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time in his career and the £20,000 prize moves him up the two-year list from 103rd to 80th. Iran’s Hossein Vafaei was the other losing semi-finalist and he jumps from 37th to 33rd.
Should Martin O’Donnel win the Shoot-out, he would get ahead of Ali Carter, at 11th, pushing him and everyone below one place down. In this case Ronnie would face Ali in the last 16, with the winner of Selby v Hawkins awaiting, should he win.
If Noppon Saengkham wins, he would find himself with exactly the same points as John Higgins. I’m not sure in that case which of them would face Mark Selby in the last 16, but my guess is that it would still be John Higgins.