STUART BINGHAM has criticised the decision to give World Championship runner-up Ding Junhui a spot at this year’s Champion of Champions – ahead of World Seniors champion Mark Davis.
Mark Selby’s win at the Paul Hunter Classic means there are only five tournaments left for a player to secure one of the three remaining spots out of 16 at the £100,000 event in Coventry in early November.
There are 24 qualification spots available and if one player occupies more than one – as is the case with the top two, which are occupied by defending Champion of Champions winner and UK Championship title holder Neil Robertson – another spot becomes available (the current list is set out above).
It means Davis faces a nervy wait over the next couple of months, while Ding – who lost to Mark Selby in the final at the Crucible in May – is guaranteed his place.
Ball Run explained: “A few years ago when Ding won five tournaments they only had 14 champions for 16 spots and Shaun Murphy and Mark Davis qualified through the rankings, I think.
So in early August it looked like there needed to be a few different winners from then, to stop me getting in as the world No 2. So it looked like I had a good chance.
“But now Ding has a spot as a runner-up at the World Championships it will now be that bit harder.
“And it is bad news for Mark Davis, who I spoke to in Germany. He won the World Seniors – and he could even go and win the Six Reds – but they would still put a runner-up in Ding, in the Champion of Champions in front of him.
“I sent as text to Barry Hearn about it and he said that is right – it is the case the World Championships is the biggest tournament and will keep its two qualifying spots.
“But it is called the Champion of Champions and so you should not really put a runner-up in front of a champion. You could understand if Ding was at the bottom of the list for a place. But to put him above winners is rubbish.”
Bingham lost 4-3 to Gerard Greene in his second match at last week’s Paul Hunter Classic, despite taking a 3-1 lead.
Ball Run, who started with a 4-1 victory over fellow Essex boy Sydney Wilson, said: “I was scoring well in my first match and at 3-1 up in the second I felt good.
“But then I missed a black of its spot and the game changed for me and he started getting the run of the balls.
“It’s a shame but it happened the same way for me at this event last year when I was 3-1 up against Higgins. But that is how it goes sometimes.”
Qualifying for the Shanghai Masters (September 19-25) is now taking place and Bingham has an automatic top 16 place and could face Scot Alan McManus if he comes through his part of the draw.
Before that Bingham is next in action at the Six Red World Championship at the Bangkok Convention Centre (September 5-10). Ball Run is in Group E with Ryan Day, Wayne Brown, Darren Morgan, Babar Masih and Ratchapol Pu-Ob-Orm.