- Snooker world rankings
The snooker world rankings are the official system of ranking professional
snookerplayers to determine automatic qualification and seeding for tournaments. They are maintained by the sport's governing body, the WPBSA. As of 5 May, 2008, the number one-ranked player is Ronnie O'Sullivan.
Since the world rankings began in 1976 only seven players have held the number one position:
Ray Reardon, Cliff Thorburn, Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins, Mark J. Williamsand Ronnie O'Sullivan – although Alex Higginswould have been ranked #1 in 1982/83 if he had not had ranking points deducted for disciplinary reasons. Additionally, it has been eighteen years since any player other than Hendry, Higgins, Williams or O'Sullivan has held the top spot.
The rankings for a given season are based on ranking points accumulated by players in the two seasons prior to the current one. For each ranking tournament, players score ranking points based on the round they reached. Seeded losers receive half the ranking points for that round. Ranking points are totalled after each World Championship to determine final rankings for the next season.
The highest-ranked players automatically qualify for the final stages of certain tournaments, whereas lower-ranked players have to play a series of qualifying rounds. In particular, the top 16 players automatically qualify for the final stages of the World Championship and the Masters. (For other tournaments, the top 32 players qualify automatically.) Therefore, as well as interest in who will be number one, towards the end of a season there is typically a lot of interest in which players are likely to maintain or acquire "top 16 status".
Rankings were introduced after the 1976 World Championships as a means of determining seedings for subsequent championships. This first system was very simple, only taking into consideration world championship results for the last three years. Players were awarded five points for winning the championship, four points for losing in the final, three for losing in a semi-final, two for losing in a quarter-final, and one for losing in the last sixteen. Ray Reardon, who had won the championship all three years, thus became the first player to be officially ranked number one in the world, with fifteen ranking points.
This system remained in place until the 1982/1983 season, but was still not widely followed. This was partially due to minimal publicising, but also because the system seemed unrepresentative; Steve Davis had won more tournaments than any other player in the three seasons from the 1980/1981 to 1982/1983 seasons, but figured only 13th, 2nd and 4th on the official rankings, respectively. And while
Terry Griffithswas generally perceived as Davis's main threat, he ranked 5th, 3rd and 14th. By this time, many more tournaments were being contested, and it seemed reasonable to take those results into consideration as well.
The system was therefore changed to include many more tournaments at the end of the 1983 season. The first world number one under the new system was Ray Reardon. In its first incarnation, the new system awarded one point per match won in the final stages of any tournament other than the world championship, and two points per match in the world championship. A separate system was used to tie-break players based on their performance in qualifying rounds.
The system was an improvement over the previous one, in that rankings more closely reflected performance during the year. However, there was dissatisfaction about the use of the tie-break system and it was felt that the system was unfair to seeded losers. The system was therefore changed again in the mid-90s to the current one.
The rankings for a given season are based on ranking points accumulated by players in the two seasons prior to the current one. For each ranking tournament, players score ranking points based on the round they reached. Players who lose their opening match receive half the ranking points for that round. The official rankings are calculated after each year's world championship. Unlike dynamic ranking systems such as the world golf rankings, the snooker rankings remain constant throughout the season (from the end of one world championship to the end of the next).
The current system awards 5000 points for winning most tournaments, 7500 for winning the UK Championship, and 10000 for winning the World Championship. Each round win is worth slightly more points than a win in the round before -- for example, a second-round qualifying loser in the World Championship gets 500 more points than a first-round qualifying loser, while the winner gets 2000 more points than the runner-up. This allows the system to incorporate qualifying-round results as well as results from the final stages.
Although the basic system is stable, it is subject to minor change every year with tournaments being added and removed from the rankings list and adjustments made to the points system.
The rankings for the 2005/2006 season were compiled from the results of eight tournaments: The
totesport Grand Prix, British Open, UK Championship, Welsh Open, Malta Cup, Irish Masters, China Open and World Championship. For six of these tournaments the winner was awarded 4000 points, the runner-up 3000, losing semi-finalists 2050, losing quarter-finalists 1750 and so on down to 200 points for losing in the first round. The World Championships earns twice the amount of points. The UK Championships earns one and a half times the points.
The rankings for the 2006/2007 season were be compiled from the results of seven tournaments: The
Northern Ireland Trophy, Grand Prix, UK Championship, Malta Cup, Welsh Open, China Open and World Championships (including qualifying rounds).
Although the official rankings are only calculated once a year, players and pundits closely track the ranking points earned during a season. The "provisional rankings" (which have no official status in the game) are the rankings based on the ranking points accumulated in the previous season, combined with those accumulated thus far in the current season.
The "provisional provisional" rankings (points earned during the current season - effectively how next year's provisional rankings currently look) are occasionally mentioned.
Stephen Hendry holds the record for most consecutive seasons at number 1, with eight seasons (1990/1-1997/8). He was also world number 1 for the 2006/7 season, making him the holder of most total seasons as world number 1 as well with a total of 9.
Only five players have ever recovered the number 1 spot after losing it: Ray Reardon, Ronnie O'Sullivan, Mark J. Williams, Hendry and John Higgins. Reardon only recovered the number 1 ranking after
Alex Higginswas deducted ranking points for disciplinary reasons, and Hendry only due to O'Sullivan's withdrawal from the 2006 Malta Cup.
Hendry also holds the record for most consecutive seasons as a top 16 (and even a top 8) player at 21 seasons. Steve Davis had 20 successive seasons in the top 16.
Joe Swailis the only player under the current system to reach the top sixteen, then drop out of the top 32 and then regain a place in the top 16. He was in the top 16 for the 1994/5 season only, left the top 32 for the 1998/9 season only, and regained a top 16 spot from 2000/1 to 2002/3. Swail spent the 2005/6 season ranked number 40 and the 2007/8 season ranked number 17, thus missing out by one ranking place on repeating his own previous achievement of returning to the top 16 from outside the top 32. Rex Williamsdid the same, but reached the top 16 under the old system, and dropped out and re-entered under the new system (in the top 16 until 1977/9; out of the top 32 in 1982/3 only; and re-entering the top 16 for 1986/7 and 1987/8).
Three players have had three separate spells in the top 16:
Jimmy White, Joe Perry and Mark King, Perry and King both returning for the 2008/2009 season. Of these three, only White has won at least one ranking tournament and/or reached the top 8 of the list.
Steve Davis has also returned to the top 16, but dropped out of it again after the 2007/2008 season.
* [http://www.worldsnooker.com/players_rankings Current provisional and official world rankings]
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