Mark Williams – ‘certainly the draw ought to come earlier than the Masters’

Mark Williams was amongst these affected by annual bemusement on the timing of the Masters draw on Sunday.

Gamers have been paired off for the 2023 version of the celebrated occasion in the course of the UK Championship ultimate on the Barbican Centre in York.

The highest 16 from the official world rankings checklist are invited to take part in what’s considered the second largest event on the calendar.

Conducting the draw at the moment has been commonplace for a number of years, with the BBC taking the chance to advertise their subsequent stay snooker occasion.

However each season it continues to baffle gamers and followers alike, who understandably can’t grasp the idea of confirming a lineup for such an essential invitational occasion when extra rating factors are to be performed for within the intervening interval.

Between now and the Masters in January, there are two titles to contest for with the Scottish and English Open winners to be decided in December.

With a prime prize of £80,000 in each, it signifies that, in concept, Matthew Stevens all the best way down in forty eighth place within the rankings may leapfrog his method into the highest 16 earlier than the Masters really takes place.

That’s a drastic and unlikely instance, however these simply outdoors the highest 16 could have larger qualms in regards to the cut-off level.

“Somebody can win the Scottish and the English Open, be properly within the prime 16, and never get within the Masters,” Williams stated on Twitter.

“Absolutely the cut-off ought to come after the final comp earlier than the Masters.”

Williams, a two-time former Masters champion, will face Yan Bingtao on the Alexandra Palace within the first spherical.

The latter solely held onto the final qualifying place due to Ding Junhui’s defeat to Mark Allen within the UK Championship ultimate.

As it’s, Ding has elevated his rating again as much as quantity 19, and he’ll be hoping to proceed his kind within the subsequent couple of weeks as he bids to rejoin the highest 16 after a spell within the doldrums.

By way of qualifying for the Masters his time is up, however there’s already been a few notable examples from campaigns previous the place the draw hasn’t precisely represented the present rankings.

“I missed out 4 years in the past after successful the Scottish Open, and that put me thirteenth,” Neil Robertson replied to Williams on the social media channel.

Again in 2017, Robertson quickly dropped out of the elite bracket after a disappointing run of kind culminated in him exiting that yr’s UK Championship early on.

However only a week later, the Australian triumphed within the Scottish Open to right away bounce again into the highest 16 a month earlier than the 2018 Masters happened.

2023 Masters Draw

Neil Robertson vs Shaun Murphy
Kyren Wilson vs Stuart Bingham
Mark Allen vs Barry Hawkins
Judd Trump vs Ryan Day

Mark Selby vs Zhao Xintong
John Higgins vs Jack Lisowski
Mark Williams vs Yan Bingtao
Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Luca Brecel

Final yr an identical state of affairs developed, with Luca Brecel combining with Zhao Xintong for a memorable UK Championship ultimate that pitted two younger hotshots in opposition to each other.

It was a advertising dream for the BBC, however with each ranked outdoors the highest 16, solely the champion was assured to rise into the highest 16 and achieve a Masters spot.

Zhao gained, leaving Brecel out within the chilly. Nonetheless, once more simply seven days later the Belgian was lifting the Stephen Hendry Trophy aloft to safeguard his personal return to the highest 16, albeit too late for that elusive slot within the Masters draw.

There’s an argument that it’s good for ticket gross sales to have the first-round matches identified properly prematurely, however that’s hardly very related when it’s considered that the World Championship draw is made two days earlier than its first day on the Crucible Theatre.

Staging the Masters draw after this yr’s English Open would nonetheless have given the promotion crew virtually a month to shift tickets for particular matches to the viewers.

For an occasion that’s rightly considered the game’s second most essential, it’s not unreasonable to suppose that the appropriately ranked gamers ought to be concerned.

It stays to be seen if there’ll be one other state of affairs this season during which a possible contender misses out regardless of being ranked inside the highest 16.

Let’s hope not, however both method the timing of the Masters draw yearly ought to change.

Featured picture credit score: WST

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