World champion Mark Selby has work to do at the German Masters in Berlin this week if he wants to secure his spot at the prestigious Players Championship next month.
Second seed Selby opens his campaign on Thursday in the German capital against world number 112 Barry Pinches knowing he is likely to need to reach the quarter-finals of an event he won in 2015 to keep alive his hopes of qualifying for the Players in Wolverhampton (7-13 February).
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Only the top 16 on the sport's one-year list after the German Masters are assured of a spot at the Players Championship with Selby in 18th place, 500 points behind Anthony McGill in 17th and 2500 adrift of the 16th-placed Barry Hawkins, who is out of the event but guaranteed £3,000 after losing 5-3 to Michael Georgiou in the last 32.
McGill faces Zhou Yuelong in the last 32 at the Tempodrom in Berlin with a possible last-16 encounter against defending champion Judd Trump. If Selby – who lost 57-1 to Robbie Williams in the one-frame Shoot Out last 32 – overcomes Pinches, he would face Yan Bingtao or David Gilbert for a place in the quarter-finals and a guaranteed £10,000.
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Of course, there are others who will hope to muscle in on the top 16 with Stephen Maguire only 4000 points behind Selby in 19th spot before he meets 22nd-placed Tom Ford in his opening match on Wednesday at the German Masters.
Both men are likely to need to go deep in the event to qualify for the Players, but a guaranteed £30,000 for reaching the last four is likely to be enough with John Higgins the defending champion.
One player who has no worries about qualifying for the Players Championship is Hossein Vafaei. Iran's number one is up to a career-high of 23 in the world from 42 following his 71-0 victory over Mark Williams in the Shoot Out final. His previous best was reaching 31st spot in September 2019.
Vafaei is also ninth on the one-year list courtesy of claiming the £50,000 first prize in Leicester, but was eliminated from the German Masters in qualifying in October. He whitewashed Ronnie O'Sullivan 5-0 with some stunning play only to lose 5-3 to Andrew Higginson in the last 64 in Cannock.
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Players Championship qualifiers before German Masters
- Zhao Xintong
- Luca Brecel
- Ronnie O'Sullivan
- Mark Williams
- Mark Allen
- Neil Robertson
- John Higgins
- David Gilbert
- Hossein Vafaei
- Kyren Wilson
- Gary Wilson
- Judd Trump
- Jimmy Robertson
- Yan Bingtao
- Ricky Walden
- Barry Hawkins
German Masters 2022 schedule
- January 26 and 27 – Last 32
- January 28 – Last 16
- January 29 – Quarter-finals
- January 30 – Semi-finals
- January 31 – Final
- Winner: £80,000
- Runner-up: £35,000
- Semi-final: £20,000
- Quarter-final: £10,000
- Last 16: £5,000
- Last 32: £4,000
- Last 64: £3,000
- Highest break: £5,000
German Masters draw
- Judd Trump (ENG) (1) v Gao Yang (CHN)
- Anthony McGill (SCO) (16) v Zhou Yuelong (CHN) (17)
- Tom Ford (ENG) (24) v Stephen Maguire (SCO) (9)
- Zhao Xintong (CHN) (25) v Mark Williams (WAL) (8)
- Kyren Wilson (ENG) (5) v Jimmy Robertson (ENG)
- Michael Georgiou (CYP) v Craig Steadman (ENG)
- Zhang Anda (CHN) v Luca Brecel (BEL)
- Ricky Walden (ENG) (29) v Neil Robertson (AUS) (4)
- Andrew Higginson (ENG) v Liang Wenbo (CHN) (30)
- Liam Highfield (ENG) v Fan Zhengyi (CHN)
- Lyu Haotian (CHN) v Mark Allen (NIR) (11)
- Kurt Maflin (NOR) (27) v Shaun Murphy (ENG) (6)
- Noppon Saengkham (THA) v Ryan Day (WAL) (26)
- Sam Craigie (ENG) v Ken Doherty (IRL)
- David Gilbert (ENG) (18) v Yan Bingtao (CHN) (15)
- Barry Pinches (ENG) v Mark Selby (ENG) (2)
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