Snooker world rankings
The snooker world rankings are the official system of ranking professional snooker players to determine automatic qualification and seeding for tournaments on the World Snooker Tour. They are maintained by the sport's governing body, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. Rankings points are awarded using a progressive system, in which a player is awarded more points for reaching a round than the player who only reached the previous round. The point allocation is dependent on the importance of the tournament, with the world championship receiving a greater distribution of points than the other tounaments. The rankings are based on performances over the last two years, and historically were only updated once a year at the start of the season, but are now updated after every tournament.
The rankings determine the seedings for tournaments on the World Snooker Tour, organised by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, and who gets an invite to prestigious invitational events. Tournaments open to the membership are often played in two stages—a qualification stage and the "venue stage"—usually at different locations. Players usually come into events in different rounds based on their ranking, and the top players in the sport are usually seeded through to the venue stage and do not have to play a qualification match. In particular, the top 16 ranked players automatically qualify for the final stages of the World Championship and the Masters, so as well as interest in who will be number one, there is typically a lot of interest in which players are likely to maintain or acquire "top 16 status". Players are awarded ranking points according to the round they reach in ranking tournaments—specially designated tournaments that carry ranking status. The tariffs usually reflect the importance and prestige of a tournament, and every professional member of the WPBSA is assigned a ranking, whether they are active on the circuit or not.
As more players started to compete on the circuit in the 1970s, it became increasingly necessary to seed the tournaments, precipitating the "Order of Merit" for the 1975/1976 season. The system was very basic, with seedings based on the results of the last three world championships, with the winner awarded five points, the runner-up four, and so on down to one point for players who lost in the last 16. Rankings were formally introduced in 1976 after the World Championship for the 1976/1977 season, using the same criteria.
By the 1982/1983 season many more tournaments were being contested, and it seemed reasonable to take those results into consideration as well. The Professional Players Tournament and International Open were awarded ranking status, working on the same system but with the world championship from 1983 onwards carrying double points. The Classic carried ranking points from the 1983/1984 season, and the UK Championship and British Open from 1984/1985.
The ranking point allocation was revised slightly with winners of all bar the world championship now receiving six points, runners-up five, down to one point for the last 32; the world championship more or less stayed as it was with ten points for the winner, incrementally reduced by two points for each preceding round, but now awarded one point for the last 32 in line with the other tournaments. In addition to ranking points, merit and frame points were also awarded which were used as a tie-break when players were on equal ranking points. The revised system was now based on only the two previous seasons, and updated annually after the world championship.
When the game went open for the 1991/1992 season, the ranking point allocations were altered by several factors to accommodate the influx of new players. Since then, the tie-break system has also been dropped, but the system has remained basically the same up until the 2009/2010 season, with players awarded incrementally more points for each successive round, the world and UK championships carrying slightly more points than the other events, and the rankings updated annually after the world championship. For the 2010/2011 season, the system was revised once more to incorporate ranking updates after every tournament—instead of once a season—in an effort to make the seedings for tournaments more reflective of current form.
When the official rankings were only calculated once a year, players and pundits closely tracked the ranking points earned during a season. The "provisional rankings" (which had no official status in the game) were the rankings based on the ranking points accumulated in the previous season, combined with those accumulated thus far in the current season, and as the season progressed they converged on the official rankings for the following season. The provisional rankings gave an indication of a player's form, and as the season approached its dénouement, the provisional rankings would become a source of tension as the battle for the number one spot, top 16 places, and tour qualification intensified.
The current system utilises a rolling format in which a player's rank is calculated from points accumulated over the preceding two years, with points attained from tournaments in the current season replacing the points from the corresponding tournaments from two seasons ago. Unlike the previous system where the rankings were only updated annually, the rankings are now updated after every ranking tournament. The rankings set the seedings at the start of the season, and at further points throughout.
Ranking point schedule
For each ranking tournament, players score ranking points based on the round they reach. Players who lose their opening match receive half the ranking points for that round. The current system awards 5000 or 7000 points for winning most tournaments, 8000 for winning the UK and International Championships, and 10000 points for winning the World Championship. The Players Tour Championship events carry a top tariff of 2000 points, with the grand final awarding 3000 points to the winner. 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 changes every year with tournaments being added and removed from the rankings list and adjustments made to the points system. From the 2014/2015 season, the point tariffs will be replaced by prize money earnings.
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