How things stand regarding the World Championship 2020

Following Stephen Maguire’s victory yesterday, here is how the top 16 seeding stands ahead of the Crucible.

Judd Trump (1) / Qualifier
Yan Bingtao (16) / Qualifier
Stephen Maguire (9) / Qualifier
Kyren Wilson (8) / Qualifier

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John Higgins (5) / Qualifier
David Gilbert (12) / Qualifier
Jack Lisowski (13) / Qualifier
Mark Allen (4) / Qualifier

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Mark Williams (3) / Qualifier
Stuart Bingham (14) / Qualifier
Ding Junhui (11) / Qualifier
Ronnie O’Sullivan (6) / Qualifier

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Mark Selby (7) / Qualifier
Shaun Murphy (10) / Qualifier
Barry Hawkins (15) / Qualifier
Neil Robertson (2) / Qualifier

That is if Ding enters the competition and manages to get to the UK. Ding opted out of the Tour Championship, allegedly over health and safety concerns, but, as we know, there is more, with players struggling to get visas and the number of flights being severely limited. Therefore his presence is Sheffield at the end of next month is anything but certain.

Two days ago a Chinese friend on twitter posted this:

ChineseNoVisa.png

If Zhou, Xiao, and Zhang really haven’t applied, it extremely likely that they don’t intend to travel at all. Xiao and Zhou are safe for next season ranking wise, and Zhang has next to zero chance to avoid relegation as it stands. So they might feel that it’s not worth the risk and the hassle.

Ding might be under pressure to try to his best to compete at the Crucible, because of his status in China’s sporting scene, but his presence at the Crucible is far from certain as it stands. Should he miss out here is how the seeds draw would look:

Judd Trump (1) / Qualifier
Joe Perry (16) / Qualifier
Stephen Maguire (9) / Qualifier
Kyren Wilson (8) / Qualifier

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John Higgins (5) / Qualifier
Jack Lisowski (12) / Qualifier
Stuart Bingham (13) / Qualifier
Mark Allen (4) / Qualifier

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Mark Williams (3) / Qualifier
Barry Hawkins (14) / Qualifier
David Gilbert (11) / Qualifier
Ronnie O’Sullivan (6) / Qualifier

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Mark Selby (7) / Qualifier
Shaun Murphy (10) / Qualifier
Yan Bingtao (15) / Qualifier
Neil Robertson (2) / Qualifier

What further complicates the situation regarding the World Championship, its qualifiers, and the Q-school, is the situation regarding snooker clubs’ openings. Surely WST thought that by mid-July clubs would be open. As it stands, the UK govt recommendations are unclear and confusing (as they have been since the start of this pandemics). Snooker clubs, it seems, are allowed to open from the 4th of July but no snooker can be played in them, as no indoor sports are authorised. Well, that makes little sense to me.

It probably doesn’t make sense to WPBSA either, judging by those two statements recently published:

This one came three days ago:

WPBSA Statement

24th June 2020

We have noted the announcements by Prime Minister Boris Johnson detailing the planned relaxation of current ‘lockdown’ restrictions within the United Kingdom over the coming weeks.

Together with the independent All-Party Parliamentary Group for Snooker we have been engaged in regular dialogue with the government, including the submission of proposals to the Sports Minister for the re-opening of clubs in the UK.

We are now seeking clarity as to the application of the announcements to snooker clubs and in the first instance will continue to liaise directly with affiliated clubs through ‘The 147 Club’ scheme.

We of course understand the desire from fans and players of our sport to return to the baize as soon as possible. However, we will only be able to issue guidelines for the re-opening of clubs once it is safe to do so and with clear advice directly from the government.

And this one was issued just yesterday:

WPBSA / EPSB Statement: Re-Opening of UK Snooker Clubs

  • 26th June 2020

 

Further to our previous statement of 23 June, together with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Snooker, we have since continued to seek further clarification from both the Department for Media Culture and Sport and the Sports Minister’s office in respect of the proposed re-opening of snooker clubs in the UK.

Having carefully studied the wording of the announcements made by the UK government earlier this week, it is clear that social clubs, including licensed premises are able to re-open from 4th July 2020.

However, what is not clear is whether the snooker facilities in these clubs can be used or not from this date. We are therefore continuing to seek urgent clarity on this point as we understand that clubs are reliant upon activity on the snooker tables in order to be sustainable.

We strongly advise all clubs concerned to seek further guidance and advice from their local Health and Safety Executive who will be able to assess the level of risk. It is ultimately the decision of each club as to whether they are able to re-open based upon all guidance provided.

Jason Ferguson, WPBSA Chairman said: “We are aware that snooker clubs all over the world are currently working hard to ensure that they will be able to re-open safely as soon as it is possible to do so. This includes clubs within England, in particular members of The 147 Club scheme which played a key role in the preparation of proposals submitted to the Sports Minister on 13 May, which contained detailed procedures that we believe will allow clubs to re-open safely.

“It is therefore extremely disappointing that we have not received clarity from government to be able to advise clubs in England and the UK to be able to open safely at this stage.

“Every snooker club provides a vital community social hub and a place to engage in non-contact activity. We therefore would urge each individual club to seek local authority guidance prior to re-opening and in the meantime, we will continue to push for further information from the government to provide certainty during this time.”

If clubs and academies are not able to offer tables to play snooker by the time the Qualifiers begin in Sheffield in about three weeks’ time, it’s a major issue. The qualifiers are meant to involve 128 players, 32 players will start at the Crucible, and during the Championship, the Q-school will be held, potentially involving well over 100 players. They ALL will need to find somewhere to practice, safely. Unless workable guidelines are available, and clubs can open for professional practice, how is that going to work? I can’t see WST or WPBSA taking care of that on top of everything else they will have to cope with already.

 

2 thoughts on “How things stand regarding the World Championship 2020

  1. Yes, the players that make it through Q School will probably be relegated pros who just keep going after their World Championship qualifiers. They are the most likely to have had some practice facilities, as they have been able to classify their visits to an empty club as ‘work’. But then, most of the players who get through Q School normally are former pros.

    I’d actually heard that Xiao and Zhou were intending to apply for a VISA, but then things happened behind the scenes… The players from west China (Xiao, Zhou, Zhang Jiankang, Chang Bingyu) face more complex travelling. Luo Honghao (Ding’s practice partner) sounds hopeful, but he’s hardly said anything. The others have said nothing. Nor have their managers Chusak and Victoria, who are usually so keen to show support and promote their players. But that’s not what’s important at this moment. The picture is not new: it was taken in Darlington in March when Zhou Yuelong signed for Q House.

    Anyway, we’ll know much more next week, with deadlines approaching.

    • I knew that the picture isn’t new. If Zhou and Xiao were wanting to travel and play in the World Championship, and are prevented by circumstances they have no control over, it’s a real shame. Both would have a decent chance to qualify IMO.

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