The field of 32 players for the World Grand Prix will be confirmed next week after the conclusion of the Snoot Out in Watford.
The World Grand Prix, with a top prize of £100,000, will see this season’s best-performing competitors head to the Guild Hall from the 19th to the 25th of February.
The tournament surfaced in 2015 as an invitational before being upgraded to full ranking status the following year and has been won by Judd Trump, Shaun Murphy, and Barry Hawkins.
When it first arrived on the calendar, it generated quite a buzz as the prize fund proved to be one of the biggest at the time but since then many of the other tournaments, especially in China, have considerably surpassed its pot.
Still, the World Grand Prix nicely rewards the players who have been in form since last summer and it really acts as a bonus for their consistent performances in recent months.
Most of the marquee names are set to qualify but 2017 winner Hawkins has his work cut out for him if he’s to even have the opportunity to defend his crown from twelve months ago.
The Englishman, who has been in dreadful form since reaching the semi-finals of the World Championship last April, is languishing in 40th place in the one-year rankings list and requires a run to the final of the Shoot Out this weekend to break into the top 32.
Hawkins, who won the Shoot Out six years ago, got top seed Shaun Murphy in the random first round draw but, regardless of his opponents, the 38 year-old will need a huge slice of fortune in the fast-paced competition if he’s to make it to Preston.
Currently holding onto the 32nd and final invitation spot is Ben Woollaston, who boasts just a £275 advantage over nearest challenger Tom Ford, meaning one extra win for the latter in the Shoot Out could prove to be enough to reverse their positions.
Former World Grand Prix runner-up Stuart Bingham and fellow Englishman Robert Milkins are the two cueists ahead of Woollaston who will also be looking over the shoulders in the coming days.
With a winner’s cheque of £32,000 on offer at the Colosseum, any player down to Stuart Carrington in 79th place on the one-year list could still potentially qualify for the World Grand Prix, but obviously only success in Shoot Out would do for the players down around those positions.
The one-year list will also determine the 16 players who will compete in the Players Championship in March.