The race to the 2021 World Grand Prix is on its last leg as the Scottish Open gets under way today in Llandudno.
Only the top 32 competitors from the one-year rankings list after this week’s action will be in Coventry next Monday for what is the first event on the Cazoo Series.
The final ranking event in 2021 will carry a top prize worth £100,000 and an opportunity to end the calendar year on a high note.
While called the one-year rankings, the list is in fact based on points accumulated during this ongoing season and dates back to the Championship League that was won by David Gilbert in August.
Indeed Gilbert, British Open champion Mark Williams, Northern Ireland Open winner Mark Allen, English Open’s conqueror Neil Robertson, and Sunday’s magnificent UK Championship victor Zhao Xintong are all guaranteed their spots.
The likes of John Higgins, Ronnie O’Sullivan, and defending World Grand Prix champion Judd Trump are among the other high-profile players who are set to qualify for the lucrative competition as well.
However, world champion Mark Selby is in a precarious position in 31st on the provisional standings and just inside the cut-off point heading into the Scottish Open.
Scottish duo Stephen Maguire and Anthony McGill, along with 2020 runner-up Jack Lisowski, are others who are currently inside the top 32 but in an uncomfortable position looking over their shoulders.
Shaun Murphy and Ding Junhui, meanwhile, are outside the top 32 and will require a big performance over the coming days in order to avoid missing out at the Coventry Building Society Arena.
With £70,000 on offer for the Scottish Open champion, the race for World Grand Prix spots is still very open, and anybody from the Main Tour could still theoretically break their way in.
Zhao proved at the Barbican Centre in York that a career-changing spark of form could be just around the corner, and it’ll be interesting to see if any of the lower-ranked players, particularly his countrymen, have been inspired by his success.
Either way, it promises to be an interesting subplot to this week’s schedule.
Click here to view the provisional Race to the World Grand Prix rankings list. (Snooker.org)
Featured photo credit: WST