Battle for Number One: Crucible 2021

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With the Betfred World Championship now almost upon us, there is barely a month to go until the season-end number one ranked player for the 2020/21 season is confirmed.

Snooker fans could be forgiven for assuming that current number one Judd Trump would already be assured of that position, following another hugely successful season which has seen him win five ranking events to date, in addition to the record six he claimed during 2019/20.

There is, however, a scenario which could see Trump miss out on ending the season as number one for what would be the second time in his career, with Ronnie O’Sullivan just within range of doing so for what would be a seventh occasion.

This is because while Trump currently holds a huge lead of £989,000 to closest chaser O’Sullivan, the Bristolian is due to lose the £500,000 won at the 2019 World Championship from his ranking, following this year’s tournament.

Reigning world champion O’Sullivan on the other hand has no prize money to ‘defend’ at this year’s tournament, having lost in the opening round to qualifier James Cahill two years ago.

This means that if O’Sullivan were to successfully defend his world title and draw level with Stephen Hendry on seven Crucible crowns, with Trump losing in the first round, O’Sullivan would finish the season in top spot by just £11,000.

Of course, Trump’s position remains within his own hands, as victory in his last 32 match at the Crucible would see him add £30,000 to his ranking and lock him in at number one, regardless of how far O’Sullivan is able to progress.

But of course many will remember a similar set of circumstances back in 1998 when Stephen Hendry headed to Sheffield with a comfortable lead, only to be overhauled by eventual champion John Higgins after losing in the opening round to Jimmy White.

Follow the latest provisional end of season ranking list.