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20 April 2018

Is the Current World Championship Qualification System Fit for Purpose?

Chris Lincoln (@chrisbourne2win)

With the excitement and intrigue of the 2018 World Championship in full flow, there will be fans, players and pundits from across the globe who will have their eyes firmly set on the Crucible over the next fortnight. Yet there are some players sitting at home who may feel they deserve a place at the famous Sheffield event this year...

The current system provides automatic qualification for the top 16 players on the planet after the final tournament of the season is concluded, ensuring that world class talent is present on the main stage. However, it is a combination of form, mentality and sheer pot luck that results in 128 hopefuls narrowed down to the final 16 qualifiers. Win three games and you are through, no matter how good, bad or indifferent your form has been throughout the season.

Yan Bingtao is 17th on the season points list, the best performing player not to qualify for the Crucible. The Chinese hotshot, who created history this season by becoming the youngest player to make a ranking final, reached the last eight of the Welsh Open, semi-finals of the International Championship and finished runner-up to Mark Williams in a 9-8 thriller at the Northern Ireland Open final. Yet a single frame defeat to Tian Pengfei in the second round of qualification ensured that the world number 23 would not be travelling to the Crucible.

In contrast, Stuart Carrington is down in 74th on the season points list after losing almost half of his matches. The 27-year old has failed to make it past the third round of any competition but has ensured a World Championship opening round contest with Barry Hawkins on Monday. Carrington won his three qualification matches by two frames or less in a favourable draw that saw him avoid anyone inside the top 40.

You could effectively lose all of your games across the season before winning three in a row during World Championship qualification to book your place at the Crucible. It certainly presents an exciting week with everything on the line for almost the whole snooker circuit but does it remain a fair system?

One poor session or even illness could cost you a place at the most illustrious competition of the season. Mitchell Mann had eased into the second qualification round only to forfeit his contest with Ryan Day, albeit 7-1 down when he took the decision.

However, the current system does open the door for some of the younger and/or lower ranked players on the circuit. After impressing as a teenager from the tender age of 14, Lyu Haotian spent two years away from the main action before bursting back on the scene again this season. Reaching the semi-finals of the Northern Ireland Open was a career highlight for the 20-year old until he cruised through World Championship qualification to become the lowest ranked player at 68 in this year's competition.

We would like to hear from you on this. Should qualification be based on season form or continue with the lottery and excitement of three qualification rounds for 128 players? Tweet us on @chrisbourne2win and @snookerorg.

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