It was today announced that Ronnie O’Sullivan will not compete at the venue stages of the 2015 China Open next week due to health reasons, but nevertheless he remains in contention to return to world number one for the first time in nearly five years after the tournament.
But why is this the case, given that O’Sullivan will not be in action this week?
When the official rankings are updated following this week’s Players Championship Grand Finals event in Thailand, Mark Selby will continue to head the rankings, some £20,516 ahead of O’Sullivan.
When we deduct prize money earned at the 2013 China Open however, Selby loses £35,000 from his ranking, having reached the final of that event, while O’Sullivan has no prize money to defend as he did not enter that event two years ago.
This means that even taking into account the £3,000 that Selby is already guaranteed to earn having qualified for the venue stages of the China Open, heading into the tournament in Beijing he is provisionally £11,484 behind O’Sullivan.
As a result, if Selby is to retain the number one ranking heading into the Betfred World Championship, he must reach at least the semi-finals in Beijing, which would see him earn £21,000 and stay above O’Sullivan.
In respect of the next best man Neil Robertson, the Australian is currently close to the top two in the rankings, but as the man who defeated Selby to win in Beijing two years ago, he has even more points to be deducted than the reigning world champion next week.
Looking further ahead however, the tables are set to be turned at the Crucible when it is Ronnie O’Sullivan who will have the most prize money to defend, having won £250,000 with his fifth world title triumph in 2013…