The unsung snooker hero that is Hermund Ardalen has started to work on the various ranking lists for this season.
The first one is the provisional Crucible rankings
This shows the top of this list
Mark Selby, who, no matter what happens this season, will be number one seed at the Crucible as defending champion, is well ahead of everyone.
I was surprised to see Ronnie as number 2, with a 140000 points cushion ahead of Judd Trump. But of course, Ronnie had an indifferent 2019/20 season until he won the 2020 World Championship, whilst Judd won six titles that season but lost in the QFs at the Crucible.
I was also surprised to find Martin Gould in the top 16 and as high as 13th. He is however only 18500 points ahead of Jordan Brown who is 17th.
As it currently stands Ding and Mark Allen would need to qualify. Ding is only China’s number 3 in that list, behind Yan Bingtao and Zhou Yuelong who are respectively 15th and 16th.
The biggest “shock” for me though was to find Stephen Maguire as low as number 58 in that list. Stephen is currently ranked 9th !!! That’s a serious “free fall”. He got 180000 points from the Coral Cup during the 2019/20 season and will need a good start this season to make sure that he gets the opportunity to defend them. To a lesser extend, the same is true for Mark Allen.
The second one is the provisional end-of-season rankings
This is the top of that list:
Ronnie of course loses his 500000 points from the 2020 World Championship but is still fourth in the list, with a 174000 cushion on the number 16th, Martin Gould.
Again finding both Gould and Day in the top 16 surprised me. Even more surprising is to find Jordan Brown as high as 13th and that comes from winning just one tournament. Remove the points from 2021 Welsh Open and he would be ranked around the 48th spot.
WST has recently spoken to Peter Devlin who needs to do really well this season to stay on tour. Here is a significant exerpt:
Do you feel you can turn your ranking around in the second season and retain your place on the World Snooker Tour?
“A lot of my experiences have taught me that it isn’t really about consistency, it isn’t about even having a good season. In order to stay on the tour, you need to win big money and in order to win big money you need to do really well in one tournament.
Ultimately the goal is to have a deep run. I want to get to a quarter, semi or a final and experience that buzz. I want to have a crack at winning something like Jordan Brown did at the Welsh Open. I know it is difficult, but it is possible.
The old point system was favouring consistency too much, especially when losing seeds still got ranking points. But I feel it has gone too far the other way around now, and the prize money is too top-heavy.
BTW there is a lot of other interesting stuff in that Peter Delin interview.
But I digress … back to the ranking discussion and to what matters even more than the top 16, the middle part of that list:
Again it came to surprise to me to see players like Gary Wilson, Mark King, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh , Sunny Akani and Michael Holt in the danger zone, whilst Jimmy Robertson, Matthew Stevens and Noppon Saengkham are currently in the relegation zone.
It paints a very bleak picture for the Thai players and Thai snooker. We could have no player from Thailand next season on the tour, despite the enthusiasm for snooker and a rather strong amateur scene in the country.
Veterans Ken Doherty, Anthony Hamilton and Fergal O’Brien are also in the relegation zone. Anthony has been fighting health issues and injuries for a long time and it might well be his last season. I trust Fergal to make a fight of it though. Anyone playing him this season better be ready for long gruelling battles; having sandwiches, thermos and some energy bars at the ready might be a good idea.