Anthony McGill has admitted that his victory in the Shoot-Out could prove pivotal in the race for automatic qualification into the World Championship, ahead of the Players Championship in Llandudno this week.
The Scotsman came out on top in the quickfire, single-frame event in Watford – collecting the top prize of £32,000 which lifted him into the top 16 of the world rankings.
Following the controversial decision to make the Shoot-Out a full ranking tournament, McGill’s triumph could now see him qualify for the Crucible as the seeding cut-off point draws ever nearer.
Although, while admitting that he had been fortunate to be the last one standing from the original 128-man field, the 26-year-old will certainly make the most of his good luck.
“It’s a coin-toss tournament but it’s pretty cool when you keep guessing right!” He joked. “It’s one of the fun events and I always tune into the final, so it was great to be involved and lift the trophy.
“It meant a lot in terms of the rankings, as well as qualifying for the Champion of Champions at the end of the year.
“It’s put me in a really strong position and is looking like that could be the difference between me and someone else being at the Crucible. I don’t know whether that’s fair or not, but I’ll take it.”
Alan McManus has been very influential throughout McGill's career (Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Having lifted the Indian Open title earlier in the season, victory at the Watford Colosseum ensured McGill’s place at this week’s Players Championship in Llandudno and, with it, £10,000 guaranteed just for turning up to his first-round match against Marco Fu on Tuesday.
That has given him a welcome extra opportunity to get valuable money on the board in addition to the China Open at the end of March, as he looks to make certain of a Crucible spot come next month.
“It’s not guaranteed just yet but, crucially, I’m in the Players Championship, so there’s money to be won there and then the China Open,” he observed.
“It’s a big-money event just for getting your cue out of the case. It’s a really nice part of the world in Llandudno and, hopefully, I can put on a good show.”
Still only 26 and already a two-time ranking event winner, the Glaswegian certainly has time on his side to continue his rise in snooker.
One of the main influences on his career has been that of veteran Alan McManus, who has been a regular practice partner of McGill since he turned professional in 2010.
And the expertise of the player nicknamed ‘Angles’, who is a former Masters champion and reached the World Championship semi-finals for the third time last year, have been hugely beneficial in terms of his protégé’s development.
“I started practising with Alan in my first year as a pro,” McGill recalls. “His knowledge of the game is incredible – I would never think of some of things he spots and notices.
“Slowly but surely, you draw on the experience of the likes of him and become a better player, so I certainly have him to thank.”