The World Championship qualifiers have just gotten under way at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre in Sheffield.
128 competitors are vying for the final 16 places that are up for grabs to compete in this year’s prestigious tournament at the Crucible Theatre.
In a change to the format for 2015, all the players ranked below the top 16 in the world rankings must enter the qualifying event from the first round.
That means that three wins are necessary for all players in their effort to gain one of those coveted spots in the final Worlds line-up of 32.
This compares with previous editions, where each set of 16 players descending down the rankings list were seeded into the various rounds.
Thus, those ranked 17-32 may feel aggrieved at being forced to play an extra two matches in order to reach the sport’s blue riband annual event.
Yet, a look at last year’s qualifying tournament shows that only seven out of the 16 seeded players ranked between 17 and 32 at the time emerged victorious in their single encounter to reach the Crucible.
This means that more than half of those expected to qualify on account of their ranking failed.
Indeed, a total of four lowly ranked cuiests – Michael Wasley, Kyren Wilson, Robbie Williams and Robin Hull – ended up qualifying having won all four of their necessary bouts from the opening stage.
Going against the higher seeds in the past was the fact that they had to come into the competition cold, while their rivals already had some table time under their belt.
By contrast, 2015 has the players grouped in brackets of eight, with the higher ranked players in theory facing much easier and lower-ranked opposition early on.
It will be interesting, therefore, to see whether or not the alteration to the format has a positive or negative impact on those seeded 17 to 32.
While they are indeed required to win extra ties, it may work in their favour as they are now able to grow into the tournament.
However, whether or not this will subsequently have a negative impact on their chances of progressing far at the Crucible itself, with the demand on their stamina levels increased, remains to be seen.
What do you think?