Robert Milkins is on target to be a seeded player at the Crucible for the first time in his career, following his victory at the BetVictor Welsh Open.
Milkins beat Shaun Murphy 9-7 in the final in Llandudno on Sunday and the £80,000 top prize has boosted him to 15th place in the Race to the Crucible. There are three counting events to go before the line-up of 16 seeds for Sheffield is confirmed: this week’s Duelbits Players Championship, the WST Classic (March 16-22) and the Duelbits Tour Championship (March 27 to April 2).
First round losers at the Duelbits Players Championship are guaranteed £10,000, and if Milkins qualifies for the Duelbits Tour Championship he would be sure of a further £20,000, so his chances of being at the final stages of the Cazoo World Championship look strong. He has appeared at the Crucible eight times before, but never as one of the seeds.
Gary Wilson, Ryan Day, Ding Junhui, Tom Ford, Zhou Yuelong and Joe O’Connor all started this week outside the top 16 in the Crucible race but they are competing in Wolverhampton with a chance to make up ground.
Victory for Milkins in Wales shot him up to fourth place on the one-year ranking list, and with the top eight (at the end of the WST Classic) to graduate to the Duelbits Tour Championship, he is on target for a place at the Bonus Arena in Hull. However, just £36,000 separates him from 13th-placed Ford, and with a top prize of £125,000 up for grabs this week, every player in the field in Wolverhampton has a chance to leap up the list.
Murphy earned £35,000 as runner-up in Llandudno and he’s up to tenth spot, just £4,000 behind eighth-placed Luca Brecel. Tian Pengfei and Pang Junxu both reached the semi-finals in Wales and they are up to 26th and 30th respectively. The likes of Mark Williams, Neil Robertson and Ronnie O’Sullivan, who miss out on the Duelbits Players Championship, would have to win the £80,000 top prize at the WST Classic to have a chance of getting into the Duelbits Tour Championship, and even that might not be enough.
On the official two-year list, Milkins jumps from 27th to 16th. O’Sullivan remains on top, with a lead of £188,500 over Mark Selby.
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