The prestigious Tour Championship is just around the corner, but just before that on the calendar there is the WST Classic.
The upcoming ranking event has been thrown together at the last minute as a late replacement for the cancelled Turkish Masters.
While it may be a makeshift competition in which the first four rounds will take place behind closed doors, it remains an important tournament to do well in.
For many down the lower end of the world rankings, the WST Classic will act as the penultimate opportunity to gain vital ranking points in the scramble for tour survival.
A little further up the pecking order, there’s also a scrap to make it into the top 16 in time to gain automatic qualification to the season-ending World Championship in Sheffield.
- CLICK HERE: WST Classic – draw, preview, where to watch
One of the biggest subplots to the coming ranking event in Leicester, however, is the race to see who will participate in the Tour Championship.
Five competitors have already guaranteed their spots in the eight-player field in Hull where spots are awarded based on the performances from the 2022/23 term.
Mark Allen, Shaun Murphy, Ali Carter, Kyren Wilson, and Ryan Day – all ranking event winners this season – will each definitely feature at the Bonus Arena later in March.
The remaining three positions are still up for grabs with Robert Milkins, Ding Junhui, and Mark Selby currently occupying the coveted slots in the standings.
There is a top prize worth £80,000 on offer for the WST Classic champion, meaning there could yet be some changes to the lineup.
Indeed, there are 15 players in the chasing pack who will be hoping to perform well enough in the WST Classic and seal a late qualification for the Tour Champs.
That batch includes the likes of reigning Tour Championship winner Neil Robertson, world champion and world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan, and Masters champion Judd Trump.
Both Robertson and O’Sullivan need to win the WST Classic in order to given themselves a chance, and even that might not prove to be enough.
Mark Williams, Jack Lisowski, and Luca Brecel – who in ninth place lies just a few thousand pounds short of Selby in eighth – are other high-profile competitors in the mix.
In addition to producing strong results of their own, all of these players will also need those above them who are provisionally inside the top eight to have a bad week on the baize.
Like with other ranking lists used on the World Snooker Tour, players who end on the same total will be separated on count back by the better recent result in the tournament.
Race to the Tour Championship rankings
|1||M. Allen||526,000||Already qualified|
|2||S. Murphy||237,000||Already qualified|
|3||A. Carter||186,000||Already qualified|
|4||K. Wilson||171,500||Already qualified|
|5||R. Day||159,000||Already qualified|
|9||L. Brecel||131,000||at least the L32|
|10||J. Lisowski||125,000||at least the L8|
|11||G. Wilson||122,500||at least the L4|
|12||J. Trump||115,500||at least the final|
|13||T. Ford||113,500||at least the final|
|14||J. O’Connor||102,000||at least the final|
|15||Zhou Y.||89,500||the title|
|16||C. Wakelin||83,500||the title|
|17||M. Williams||71,500||the title|
|18||B. Hawkins||71,000||the title|
|19||Xiao G.||69,500||the title|
|20||N. Robertson||68,000||the title|
|21||R. O’Sullivan||60,500||the title|
|22||N. Saengkham||57,500||the title|
|23||A. McGill||57,000||the title|
Featured photo credit: WST
It does feel O’Sullivan will need too many results to go his way even if he does triumph.