Ahead of the upcoming World Championship, let’s have a look at how the top 16 seeds have been getting on during the interrupted 2019/20 campaign.
Stuart Bingham’s season has been ultimately defined by one tournament, and it was certainly a big one to emerge victorious from.
Just like he did five years ago when securing a surprise World Championship triumph, the Englishman rose to the occasion at the Alexandra Palace in January to claim the prestigious Masters crown.
Bingham undoubtedly took advantage of a peculiar tournament that was preceded with Ronnie O’Sullivan deciding not to enter, and subsequently began with the majority of the favourites bowing out in the early stages.
That he was able to be the last man standing – beating Ali Carter, an even more unlikely finalist, 10-8 in London – is testament to his pedigree for the big-time.
However, aside from etching his name onto one of the game’s most important trophies, the 2019/20 term hasn’t really been all that great for the 44 year-old.
Only once has Bingham reached the quarter-finals of a ranking tournament, a paltry sum of appearances for a player of his calibre.
First-round exits in several events, combined with his failure to even get beyond the preliminaries in four other competitions, resulted in Bingham only barely making it inside the top 32 on the one-year rankings list in time to secure qualification for the World Grand Prix.
Failure to feature in the other two Coral Series tournaments – the Players and Tour Championships – means that his membership within the elite top 16 is now somewhat under threat.
Bingham finds himself in an interesting quarter of the Crucible draw, with three other heavy-hitters already involved.
The former world number two could meet Mark Williams as early as the second round, while Ronnie O’Sullivan or Ding Junhui may be the opponent in the last eight.
But all four of these players have endured up and down seasons, with consistency not at the levels one would come to expect.
One important thing that isn’t in his favour is his recent record in Sheffield, having failed to go passed the last 16 hurdle every year since his crowning achievement in the city in 2015.
Stuart Bingham’s season overall would suggest that he won’t be among the serious contenders for this edition, but that Masters win did serve to remind everyone of what is possible should he manage to get on a roll.
Yes, he does have a chance, partly because everything is so unprecitable. Due to snooker’s inadequate ranking system, he’s currently 28 on the 1-year list, which means he will need a big result from somewhere to be in the top-16 for next year’s Masters, although he will get special dispensation to defend his title.
Obviously, at 44 and with fading eyesight, it’s understandable if he can’t keep performing to his peak level. But he is also a proven tournament winner, and as we have seen, this counts for a lot.