A first look at the coming season rankings with snooker.org

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

2021:22 start - Top Prov Crucible Rankings

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:

2021:22 start - Top Prov End-of-Season Rankings

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:

2021:22 start - Mid Prov End-of-Season Rankings

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.


Dave Hendon and Michael McMullan discuss rankings and “Gods of Snooker”

Episode 159 of the Snooker Scene podcast is out and can be found here.

Dave and Michael discuss two main themes: the ranking system and the BBC “Gods of Snooker” series.

Regarding the rankings, basically they believe that the current system is too top-heavy and that, with Barry Hearn retiring, now is a good time to maybe reconsider it. I agree.

David Hendon actually comes up with a proposal, and here it is provided I understood it correctly:

  • Each event should be classed in a category, depending on the prize money available for the winner of the event. A category or “band” woud be associated with a “range” of prize money. For instance: “500000 or more”, “200000 to 499999”, ect …
  • In Dave’s proposal, each category would be associated with one of the snooker colours, the black category being the most prestigious, the yellow category the less prestigious.
  • Within a category, all events would carry the same amount of ranking points at every stage, in effect “decoupling” the ranking points and their repartition from the prize money. The idea being to make the system less top heavy and to have a certain level of harmonisation between events when it comes to rankings.

I would be 100% in favour of that, with one additional “twitch”: the bands should not be solely about the money but also about the format and matches length. Similar efforts should be rewarded in similar ways. If some lunatic were to offer one million to the winner of the Shoot-out it wouldn’t make the event worth of the “Black band” with huge ranking points in my views, mind you, it would not change my opnion that it simply should never be ranking.

Also, first round losers should still get some money, as they did contribute to the tournamen, did bring value to the sponsor and broadcasters. At the very minimum, playing should not cost them. “Decoupling” money from ranking points may help to get this idea through as giving them something for their work and efforts would not impact the rankings in any way.

Their other main subject was the BBC “Gods of Snooker” series which they praised. I managed to watch all three episodes and I agree: it’s interesting, with lots of material I had never seen before especially in episodes 2 and 3. Also, for once, Alex Higgins wasn’t presented as a “victim” of the system. Whilst his impact on the sport can’t be denied – he changed snooker, and its image foerever and made it what it is today – as a person he was far from “great” and Michael McMullan, who is Northern Irish himself was clear about his opinion that Alex Higgins went away with a lot, far too much actually. I can’t agree more.

Despite its obvious qualities, this is yet another BBC feature focusing on snooker’s past and David was left wondering how and why the BBC always refused to do a feature about Ronnie for instance.

The series “triggered” this “review”:

TV review: Gods Of Snooker went out in a baize of glory

© Andy Hooper/ANL/ShutterstockAlex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins was seen as the wild man of snooker in the 1980s
Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins was seen as the wild man of snooker in the 1980s

Is there a more dreary game to watch than snooker?

Men dressed as waiters push little balls around a table in dead silence for days at a time; as a sleeping aid, it’s probably second only to being hit with a tranquilliser dart while listening to Douglas Ross read Atlas Shrugged.

Yet, in the 1980s, snooker was more rock’n’roll than even rock’n’roll. Well, it was the days of Spandau Ballet.

Gods Of Snooker was a fantastic look at the years when seemingly everyone, high on colour televisions, became obsessed with the parlour pastime.

There seemed to be something about the game that sent the players slightly snooker loopy.

Alex “Hurricane” Higgins wielded a cigarette more than he did a cue, and sank more lagers than he did difficult pinks.

His rival, the more successful and rather dull Ray Reardon, complained nobody talks about him any more, while Higgins is still hailed to this day.

It’s no wonder. Staggering round the table playing cavalier snooker – well, as much as snooker can be described as such – Alex was prone to a rampage away from the table.

Slurred resignations, throwing cues at spectators and threatening to have rivals shot; current snooker wildman Ronnie O’Sullivan looks like Cliff Richard in comparison. They don’t make ’em like this any more.

This isn’t a review, it doesn’t say much about the feature itself and  it’s taken as an opportunity to disparage the sport we love. and I’m not sure that the author watched beyond the first episode, if that. I’m the one who put the “bold” highlight.

Judd is rigth that there is too much focus on the past, and on the UK, and it showed as well in the features WST did in the building of the Q-School: they were mainly about over-40 yo British players trying to regain their tour card. If the sports want to grwo global, and have a future, the focus should be on young aspiring players, and not just the British ones.