Following the conclusion of the China Open this weekend in Beijing, the World Championship top 16 who will gain automatic berths at the Crucible this year has been confirmed.
China Open finalists Neil Robertson and Jack Lisowski were already assured of their places among the elite before their showdown for glory on Sunday.
The pair’s seeding positions, however, were still to be decided and Robertson’s 11-4 triumph over the Englishman means that he has made an enormous leap back into the top four in the world rankings.
Although that places the Australian in a quarter of the draw that boasts three other former world champions, Robertson is guaranteed to avoid several of this season’s heavy hitters until the final.
World number one Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, and Mark Allen are all in the bottom section, as well as Lisowski, Mark Selby, and Ding Junhui.
O’Sullivan is the favourite at 9/4 with title sponsor Betfred for this year’s edition after another record-breaking season for the “Rocket”.
Several other betting sites price Robertson, Trump, and Allen as the next most fancied shots after campaigns in which they have each emerged with multiple titles.
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Meanwhile, Mark Williams is the top seed at the Crucible as the defending champion, having claimed a memorable third crown eleven months ago in Sheffield.
At the other end of the scale is David Gilbert, who after 17 years as a professional will not be forced to contest the dreaded qualifiers for the first time in his career.
The World Open and German Masters runner-up held on to the 16th and last spot after Scott Donaldson bowed out in the last four in Beijing.
Before the 17-day marathon of the mind gets under way in a couple of weeks, the 16 qualifiers who will be making up the final field of 32 should be determined.
Preliminary action at the English Institute of Sport gets under way on Wednesday with all players ranked outside the world’s top 16, as well as several invited amateurs, set to participate.
Each player will need to win three matches in order to join the World Championship top 16 at the Crucible.
The first round draw will take place on Thursday, April 18th following the climax to the qualifiers, known as Judgement Day.
Provisional First Round Draw
Mark Williams (1) vs Qualifier
David Gilbert (16) vs Qualifier
Barry Hawkins (9) vs Qualifier
Kyren Wilson (8) vs Qualifier
John Higgins (5) vs Qualifier
Stuart Bingham (12) vs Qualifier
Shaun Murphy (13) vs Qualifier
Neil Robertson (4) vs Qualifier
Mark Selby (3) vs Qualifier
Luca Brecel (14) vs Qualifier
Jack Lisowski (11) vs Qualifier
Mark Allen (6) vs Qualifier
Judd Trump (7) vs Qualifier
Ding Junhui (10) vs Qualifier
Stephen Maguire (15) vs Qualifier
Ronnie O’Sullivan (2) vs Qualifier