The conclusion of the Tour Championship on Friday means that every ranking event before the World Championship this season has been completed.
Positions in the top 16 in snooker can’t change ahead of the upcoming World Championship in Sheffield.
Stephen Maguire triumphed in the penultimate ranking event this week, the rescheduled Tour Championship that was held at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
The Scot overcame Mark Allen in the title decider to claim a sixth ranking crown, seven years after he last tasted success at the same level.
As well as banking a huge sum worth £260,000 for the victory, including various bonuses on top of the champion’s cheque, Maguire rises to number nine in the official world rankings list.
That intriguingly puts the 39 year-old in the same quarter of the Crucible draw as runaway world number one Judd Trump.
As the defending champion, Trump will be the top seed in the World Championship that is set to commence on the last day of July.
Trump and Maguire, who shared one win apiece from their Coral Series meetings with one another, could clash at the quarter-final stage.
Kyren Wilson and Yan Bingtao are the other couple of cueists from the top 16 in snooker who feature in the same section.
Allen, who has enjoyed a consistent season without being able to show any silverware for it, will be involved in the same half in addition to John Higgins, David Gilbert, and Jack Lisowski.
Arguably the two biggest rivals to Trump potentially breaking the “Curse of the Crucible”, in which no first-time champion has ever returned the following year to reign again in Sheffield, are on the bottom half of the draw.
And while Trump’s half of course boasts quality, the opposite side is absolutely loaded with star pedigree.
Ronnie O’Sullivan and Neil Robertson will be the pair most-fancied to dismantle Trump’s challenge following a term in which he has triumphed in a record six ranking tournaments.
Yet, second seed Robertson must contest the likes of Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, and Barry Hawkins in his quarter.
Sixth seed O’Sullivan, meanwhile, has Ding Junhui, Mark Williams, and Stuart Bingham for company in his mini bracket.
The qualifiers will obviously have their say on the matter too, with the preliminaries set to take place in a few weeks at the English Institute of Sport.
More than 100 competitors are supposed to be in action with 16 coveted spots up for grabs, although whether or not all the overseas players will be able to participate amid the COVID-19 pandemic remains the constant source of confusion.
Marco Fu, twice a semi-finalist and a former constant force among the top 16 in snooker, has already announced that he will not enter this year’s edition.
Still, excitement will now begin to build ahead of the sport’s blue-riband campaign finale.
World Championship First Round Draw
Judd Trump (1) vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs Yan Bingtao (16)
Stephen Maguire (9) vs Qualifier
Qualfiier vs Kyren Wilson (8)
John Higgins (5) vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs David Gilbert (12)
Jack Lisowski (13) vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs Mark Allen (4)
Mark Williams (3) vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs Stuart Bingham (14)
Ding Junhui (11) vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs Ronnie O’Sullivan (6)
Mark Selby (7) vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs Shaun Murphy (10)
Barry Hawkins (15) vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs Neil Robertson (2)
Featured photo credit: WST