First, a disclaimer: I find the rankings and chat about the ranking structure to be the most boring subject in snooker.

However the rankings are devised, be it points or, as it will be from 2014/15, prize money, the best players are always at the top and the worst players (on the professional circuit) are always at the bottom.

This is nothing to do with ‘protection’ for the top players. They all started at the bottom. They got to the top because they are better than the players they overtook.

A player’s ranking position matters less in snooker than ranking bands. There is no material difference in being ranked 20th or 32nd but there is a huge difference between being ranked 20th and 33rd.

I don’t think any less of, say, Shaun Murphy if he falls from fifth to sixth. Neither should he: it makes no difference whatsoever.

Similarly, Ronnie O’Sullivan is down in 16th place in the latest list but this is down largely to him not playing in a number of tournaments. When players play him they don’t think they are playing the world no.16. They know they are playing Ronnie O’Sullivan. His ranking is irrelevant other than as a guide as to where he should be placed in the draw.

The world ranking list was instituted in 1976 when the circuit had sufficiently grown to a level where it needed to rank the players.

The World Championship was the only open event of the time and the list was devised by retrospectively awarding points to the previous three World Championships.

This system was in place until 1982, when it was replaced by incorporating other tournaments. Players received six points for winning a tournament, five for finishing runner-up, four for the semis and so on. Anyone who lost before the last 32 received ‘merit’ points, which was a sort of ‘nearly’ ranking point, or 'A' points, which was a nearly-nearly ranking point. The World Championship was worth almost double the other events.

This system seems quaintly old fashioned now but, in fact, it left an entirely accurate set of ranking lists.

In the early 1990s, it was decided to replace it with a system worked out not by world renowned mathematicians at MIT but by the then WPBSA chairman on the back of a fag packet.

Points were now awarded in thousands. Crucially, both systems used a rigid two-year structure, which meant much talk of ‘provisional’ rankings but undoubted protection for players on a losing run.

We often hear it said that Mark Williams dropped to 47th and got back to no.1. He didn’t. He was only ever outside the top 32 provisionally, which was a guide to form but did not affect seedings.

Barry Hearn’s arrival at the helm of World Snooker two years ago heralded the rolling system which has made it much easier for successful players to move up more quickly.

Now, it’ll be a money list. Some players are for this, others are against it. Many don’t seem to understand it.

The new system will apply for all ranking tournaments, including PTCs. Invitation tournaments such as the Masters and Premier League will not count towards the rankings. Why? Because they are not ranking tournaments.

As usual there has been much frothing at the mouth about the announcement but it has also been argued that the money list better reflects the worth of tournaments.

If an event attracts, say, £500,000 in sponsorship then it is by definition more prestigious than one which attracts £200,000. Therefore, the winner should be better rewarded by winning it.

The huge problem with the new system, though, is that currently a third of the tour doesn’t earn a penny from each ranking event. Prize money does not come in until the last 64 of most tournaments.

If this continues then how are they to be ranked? By ‘merit’ pounds?

Hearn’s long term ambition is to have everyone start in round one, much like the PTCs. Opposition from broadcasters who may be robbed big name players for the events they cover still makes this difficult to push through.

Another problem is the obvious bias towards winning one of the really big tournaments. Winning the world title means it is hard not to finish very high up the list, even if you don’t do much in the other events.

Does this matter? To many it will. Others will feel winning the world title is the biggest achievement in the sport and should be rewarded thus.

What is striking about the prototype list issued by World Snooker today is that there are actually not that many differences to the current list.

Why? Because the best players are always going to win the biggest tournaments. This will remain the case if they start in round one.

It will remain the case if they are awarded points, pounds or gold stars.

The key thing to watch out for in the new system will be the distribution of prize money. If it’s still slim pickings down towards the lower reaches (too slim, I would say) then it will be tougher than ever to climb up.

But if, eventually, everyone starts out together in the first round then it’s a level playing field and may the best man win.

Which he always does.


wild said...

You miss the Point there's a huge Difference between Ronnie being 16th point Rankings and 2nd Money Rankings over a 2 year Period.

in Point Rankings if Ronnie had a bad season this season and not win the World Title he will be in Relegation dog fight Next Season However with Money Rankings he would probably still be Top 4 and Protected for a Year.

2nd is a False Position For him to be in Considering how Poor he was in season 1 of 2.

Winning a World Title should not mean you are safe for so long.

Ronnies Ranking Position of 9th was his Correct position after winning his 4th World Title because he was not committed to his Sport or Job.

and also Ali Carter being 7th based on one Event out of 2 seasons instead of playing qualifiers like he should and is doing with points.

Anonymous said...

i see the spotlight kid got treeted like a little baby again.

kid gloves for him.

sledgehammers the rest

JIMO96 said...

I see WS have corrected their list today after the mess of errors in yesterdays publication.

It seems they've used every completed event from the 2010 Shanghai Masters onwards, and players on the first year of their 2 year card are only allocated cash from the current season.

The only thing WS haven't published is the conversion rates they're using from Euros to £, and from Australian dollar to £, and whether it's the same rates applied throughout the 2 year cycle.

Bryn said...

Clearly this is a mixed bag, after all the more a sponsor puts in the more impact they can have on the rankings. To an extent however this is already true.
To be money based however is less fair at the lower end as a player could win every first and second round match and in some cases third match (non PTC) and win nothing. Back in the 90s and beyond, money was often given down to the last 128. Perhaps Mr Hearn is looking at this.
His main problem may be that some players (and we can guess them) may not bother to show up for the smaller events, when a big win will be enough ranking/money wise.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with your disclaimer, Dave.

Anonymous said...

On the whole I think it's a good idea because it allows World Snooker to franchise out the game so to speak. If China want to create ranking touranments they can, they only have to stump up the cash. Thailand has a professional tour, but there is no system for comparing a professional on the Thai tour to one of the Main Tour. At the moment the tour is a monopoly, and a cash based ranking system would hopefully encourage countries to set up their own tours, and it would make tournament seeding between different tours relatively straightforward.

Some of the criticisms that are unfounded:
i) It protects the world champion. True, with Ron now seeded second on the money list, but the irony is he's seeded second anyway under the current system. A one year list might be better now the relative importance of the big events will be properly reflected.
2) John Higgins was crap last season and is number 1. True, but he was actually crap in 2006/2007 season when he won it. He was crap in the 2007/2008 season; he's actually crap most of the time when you look at his record, and Ronnie hardly ever plays, but between them they have won the world championship 5 out of the last 6 times, so really, who are the best two players in the game? This pattern has to break before somebody else is regarded ahead of them. Criticise the money list all you want, but it throws up a more intuitive ranking for those two players.

Criticisms that are justified:
1) It protects the top 16 players, due to the TV "money gap". I think this is a valid concern, but if they were to be re-seeded at the started of every set of qualifiers then you wouldn't have a top 16 player sitting back and collecting top 16 money for a quarter of the season i.e. it would minimise the advantage. Alternatively you could exclude appearance money, which is basically what it is if you don't win.
2) Players outside of the top 64 can win but don't earn. Well, I think that is a disgrace that actually has nothing to do with the fault of a money list. If anything a money list highlights that this disgrace is going on, and will obviously have to be corrected before the new rankings come into effect.

It seems there are several biases but they can easily be ironed out with some common sense application. I still think it's a major step forward in globalizing the sport, and I'm disappointed in the parochial thinking of Michael Holt.

wild said...

Some of the criticisms that are unfounded:
i) It protects the world champion. True, with Ron now seeded second on the money list, but the irony is he's seeded second anyway under the current system.
No under the current system hes Protected for a year with Money Rankings they Protected for 2 Seasons Just like John Higgins hes No 1 having reached only the Shanghai Masters and World Open Quarter Finals Since he won 16 months ago..

Can147 said...

When prize money ranking kicks in...does the prize money won for high breaks and 147s at ranking tournaments count towards their ranking?

As well, what happens to prize money in foreign currencies? I guess it gets converted to sterling for ranking purposes? it would be funny if the exchange rate caused a player to get in or drop out of a privotal place like top 16 or 32...lol

Anonymous said...

Which is why I suggested a one-year list wild; but my point still holds true that if you ask anyone on the tour who the two best players are they will tell you: O'Sullivan and Higgins.

Anonymous said...

I expect the conversion rate would be set at the time of the tournament, otherwise you could end up with players going up and down without even playing a tournament; similarly, if it was set at the start of the season you'd probably end up with some Zimbabwean guy being ranked #1 due to hyperinflation. The other way would just be to have all prize money in euros or US dollars, as the two world reserve currencies. Barry might prefer that because it will make his prize fund look bigger.

wild said...

Which is why I suggested a one-year list wild; but my point still holds true that if you ask anyone on the tour who the two best players are they will tell you: O'Sullivan and Higgins.

Well they are Wrong then O'Sullivan Hardly Played and Higgins been Hopeless for so Long.

if Mark Selby Wins the World Championship and end up no 1 16 Months after his World Triumph people will be saying the Rankings are Wrong.

Anonymous said...

Higgins and Ronnie are not good players (because really, which major titles have they actually won .. several times?),
all (so called) snooker fans are conspiring against one player,
and Selby will one day be a World Champion


jamie brannon said...

As an O'Sullivan fan, it doesn't concern me greatly where he is ranked.

To be honest, I find it quite amusing him being ranked 16th, as think if this man is the 16th best player in the world then the other fifteen must be all playing better than Hendry in his pomp.

Having said that, I was getting a little edgy about O'Sullivan last season almost losing his top 16 ranking before the cut off point for Crucible seedings.

I agree with Dave to an extent, but not fully, as there are scenarios during both systems I can remember that have intrigued me.

Anonymous said...

A top 16 player is guaranteed around 50,000 points this season if he loses every single match ! A rookie pro would have to win 40 matches to equal that tally, unless they reached a final or won a tournament.
A money .list will work perfectly with open 128
It is impossibly unfair to apply it this season.

Anonymous said...

Good idea for those of us who watch rather than play.

1. It is crazy to have two numerical systems - one a random set of points - the other the prize money. So use just one, the prize money

2. It is a disgrace that players loose money if they get knocked out early. No player should make a net loss. So redistribute the prize money. This also sorts the problem with some players having no £points.

Anonymous said...

The prize money distribution could be handled better. I disagree with Barry Pinches that they should cut the winner's prize down and redistribute it to the qualifiers, but I agree with him that something has to be done. I also agree with Barry Hearn in that the winner's prize is the money that is on "display", and that needs to be set as high as possible. I'd make the distribution simple: 25% to the winner, 25% on the qualifier stages with every match winner getting something, and the remaining 50% on the TV stages. If you have to cut down the prize money somewhere, it should really be the last 16 and QF stages; if you go out in those rounds you are not playing well enough to win the event and I think it is those players that are slightly overpaid, so you only need to throw a couple more grand at those stages.

Anonymous said...

Ha Ha, Wild, either you are trolling or know nothing about snooker. Selby better than ROS or JH? Stick to the horses or whatever else you do.

Anonymous said...

8 world titles between them and who say they are not good players. What planet are you on.

Anonymous said...

As things stand, Higgins hasn't been the best player in the world for well over a year.
If you are counting world titles to judge the world number one then a 2 year old can compile the rankings.
Ray Reardon won 6 word titles and isn't dead so maybe he is still right up there.

Anonymous said...

Personally it makes sense to me to have the last two world champions in separate halves of the draw at the next world championship, and that has a realistic chance of happening with a money list.

Anonymous said...

8.23, you are way off the mark. No one is talking about number 1 in the rankings. We're talking about the best player in the world. There is a difference.

Higgins and Sullivan have both had several dry periods and have bounced back to win majors.

They are proven big time winners and multiple WC winners. To say they are not good because one is out of form for a year is utterly stupid.

Selbys record is comparable to Matthew Stephens or Stephen Lee. Good but not great. And never will be. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Anonymous said...

so, someone thinks ROS ranking doesnt concern him greatly then admits to being edgy about it. hmm

also, that poster, as well as several on here, dont seem to get what others are saying.

nobody is saying the number one spot is the best player.

the no1 spot is the most succesful in a period of time, given those who entered events available to all.

nothing more.

ronnie is ranked 16th, or whatever...nobody is saying that means he is 16th best....thats ros fan logic if they were.

ronnie is a has been. the best part of his career is behing him, thankfully.

hopefully the money list shows others coming through as i cant wait to be rid of the moaning git.

also, good to see his fans stick the boot in to him for changing his 6 months off, to 4. four with 2 months being the off season.

guy just loves the spotlight. total buffoon

Anonymous said...

The last match Ronnie played was the world final which he won and some idiot says he is a has been. OMG you do get some lame brains on here.

Anonymous said...

The money list is only relevant if tournaments have all players playing from round of 128. Under the current system it will be harder to break into the top 16 and will create protectionism for the top 16 players which is counter productive to what hearn has tried to achieve since he as come to power. Currently the ranking system can be made simpler with lesser points like tennis given for e.g 250 points given for winning a minor tournament and 2000 for a major.

Money list works in golf because players dont play directly against each other it is more like playing to get your personal best score. Thus higher ranked players are not protected as much as snooker by starting 5 rounds after lets say a player ranked 90th

Anonymous said...

Could Barry and Ronnie have thought this li'l 'o sceme up rogether, like: "ok, now I'll sign"?

Anonymous said...

anyone ever thought of a ranking system based on balls potted throughtout a season?
Each frame must be conceded when more than one snooker is required.
The current top 8 under the "balls potted" one year system is

Its a very pure ranking list based on everything the game is about.

Anonymous said...

i could pot more balls than my opponent and lose the match...he gets to go on and pot more balls in his next match, or more.

rubbish idea!

also, nice of the ROS fan to take one bit of my post and quote it out of context.

my point was:

ros is a has been with regards to his best days being behind him. he wont acheive in the rest of his career what he has done already. in that respect he is a has been, who WS still pander to. unfortunatley for snooker fans (not fans of ros who dont watch if hes not involved).

sorry i had to explain it to you in so many words, brains.

Anonymous said...

O'Sullivan is current World Champion and Higgins before him. They both have won it 4 times they've got heaps of other titles, records/stats and they're two of the all time greats.

Higgins, Ronnie and a few other top players protect themselves by winning often enough in a period of time, by playing well enough to beat anyone.

Selby plays a lot, but doesn't win enough titles.


The cliché, but only response must be:
Snooker is not just about potting balls.

Anonymous said...

11.32 has nailed it.

Moving to £ based ranking means ROS can just play in a few lucrative tournaments and stay in the top 16.

Anonymous said...

1132 has nailed it?

did you or anyone else just think ros had a wee change of heart for no reason?

maybe you thought he said 6 months off (then only missed 2 months worth of competition) to stay in the controversial spotlight, once again, but i and many more read more into it.

pander pander

Anonymous said...

Selby has under-acchieved.

Especially considering the amount of events he plays.

I wonder what his % of titles won / matches played is.

Anyone got stats on this?

Anonymous said...

id bet that selbs acheivements are in the top 5% in that ration 339.

if that makes him an underachiever in your eyes, youre blind

Anonymous said...

To be fair, Selby is a great player; if any of us could play as well as he can we would think we were shit hot. But by the same token he is probably the worst player ever to be ranked number 1, so by that measure he has underachieved. Everything is relative.

Anonymous said...

i can think of a couple players id consider worse than selby who were no 1

Anonymous said...

The trophy cabinets say otherwise.

Anonymous said...

231, you dont get trophies for being number one.


Anonymous said...

3.58, Dont think you can. Reardon, Davis, Thorburn, hendry, higgins, ROS, Robbo, Williams. All world champs and multiple title winners. Selby dosent belong in that company

Anonymous said...


sorry to have to say youre wrong, BUT I CAN

its my opinion.

yours is different

i respect that

i can say my opinion all i want, i think.

i dont need your permission if its not the same as yours.

thanks for your valued input.

the brain is next to 1st gear for future reference.

Anonymous said...

Well actually, 207 has indisputable evidence.

748, your brain needs to go up a gear.

Selby is not a world champion therefore not one of the all time greats.

Anonymous said...

i love it when brainless folk try to "speak"

to be one of the all time greats you dont have to have been a world champion IMHO

your opinion differs

there is no rule book for that to be law, so youre quite wrong.

my opinion is as valid as yours.

shame you lost your gear lever.

Anonymous said...

You're hiding behind the word 'opinion', making this discussion practically pointless, but I'll give it one last go.

Please elaborate on your earlier post: "i can think of a couple players id consider worse than selby who were no 1"

Name that couple.

Anonymous said...

no thanks brains

you say number ones

then you go on to list world champions

and what i put here is my opinion

who i think is better

if you think every word typed in these wee boxes are people typing facts then youre sadder than i didnt give you credit for.