World Championship seeding
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Tour Championship to Decide World Championship Seeding

The last event in the Coral Series was originally scheduled for March but was postponed due to the coronavirus crisis.

World Championship seeding will be one of the many things to play for in the Tour Championship next week in Milton Keynes.

Following the success of the Championship League at the Marshall Arena this month, WST quickly pencilled in the Tour Championship to be staged at the same venue.

In theory, it will be a much easier task to accommodate the field and adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines, with only eight players competing in the lucrative finale to the Coral Series.

The top eight competitors on the one-year rankings list qualify, although Ding Junhui has opted to withdraw and not make the trip from China.

The UK champion’s spot has instead been offered to Stephen Maguire, who originally missed out on an automatic place to fellow Scot John Higgins by just £6,500.

Judd Trump, Shaun Murphy, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, Yan Bingtao, and Mark Allen are the others who complete the line-up.

With odds of around 7/4 from all of the best betting sites, Trump is the pre-tournament favourite to land a seventh ranking title of the campaign so far.

A full preview of the competition will be done later this week, but one potentially interesting ramification of the results will be the outcome of the World Championship seeding.

All eight players are already guaranteed an automatic position at the Crucible as they each already boast membership among the elite top 16, but where they will precisely slot into the draw isn’t necessarily set in stone.

As the reigning champion and the runaway world number one, Trump is obviously guaranteed to be the top seed in Sheffield and will launch the 2020 edition when it finally gets going in late July.

Australia’s Robertson, who was consistently Trump’s nearest rival in 2020 before the stoppage, is also assured of the second World Championship seeding and therefore will be on the opposite side of the draw.

Yet, with a whopping £150,000 on offer for the Tour Championship winner, most of the other positions could change.

As things stand, Trump will be joined in the top quarter of the Crucible draw by Yan, Murphy, and Kyren Wilson.

Intriguingly, with Ronnie O’Sullivan sixth in the world rankings the “Rocket” definitely can’t end up in the same section as Trump – providing the opportunity for a mouthwatering final showdown in August between the duo.

Selby and Murphy could each usurp O’Sullivan’s seeding but crucially both can’t do so together, meaning the latter will be in the bottom half this year even if he ends up representing the seventh seed.

Higgins, who will be bidding to reach a fourth Sheffield title decider on the trot, and Allen are two others who are set for the same half of the draw as Trump at present.

The World Championship seeding can always play a pivotal role in how the destination of a world title is determined.

Players might insist that they don’t mind who they play, but avoiding the heaviest hitters like Trump, O’Sullivan, and Robertson in the second round and earlier stages could be the difference between an early exit and getting on a role.

As ever, it will be intriguing to see how it pans out.

Below is how the last 16 of the World Championship would look if all 16 seeds, as the provisional standings are at the moment, won their first-round tie at the Crucible Theatre.

Judd Trump (1) vs Yan Bingtao (16)
Shaun Murphy (9) vs Kyren Wilson (8)
Mark Allen (5) vs Jack Lisowski (12)
Stuart Bingham (13) vs John Higgins (4)

Mark Williams (3) vs Stephen Maguire (14)
David Gilbert (11) vs Ronnie O’Sullivan (6)
Mark Selby (7) vs Ding Junhui (10)
Barry Hawkins (15) vs Neil Robertson (2)

Click here to view the Tour Championship draw (Times: CET)

Featured photo credit: WST

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