I remember Stephen Hendry saying in the early 1990s that being world no.1 was more important to him than being world champion because “it shows you’re the best player for the whole year.”
Mark Selby takes the opposite view.
“Winning the World Championship is more important to me than getting to no.1,” he said.
“If I was to become world champion but never ever get to no.1 I don’t suppose anybody could ever take it away from me.
“You have someone like Ronnie O'Sullivan, if he was to be sitting at no.4 people would still say he’s the best player in the world so as far as ranking goes, it's just personal preference. Everyone has their own opinion.”
I think Hendry today may agree with Selby. The reason is that snooker players no longer play all year round because of the depleted calendar. Indeed, Hendry hasn’t played for three months.
There is kudos to being world no.1. Very few players have held this position and it is an indicator of form and consistency.
However, winning at the Crucible is generally considered to be a better achievement, not least because it’s what the public remember.
Also, the rankings are distorted in any case by the World Championship and its huge points tariff. Getting to the second round is equal to reaching the final of most tournaments.
The world champion, if not already the world no.1, is installed as world no.2, which makes a mockery of the rankings and, as Ian McCulloch found out three years ago, can be grossly unfair.
So I understand Selby’s point.
Increasingly, the snooker year has become geared towards the World Championship and little else.