For nearly four years since his victory at the 2015 German Masters, Mark Selby has dominated snooker’s world ranking list but for the first time this season there is a mathematical possibility that he could be overhauled at the top of the list following the Betway UK Championship.
Having first ascended to first position on 12 September 2011, usurping Mark Williams following his victory at the Shanghai Masters, Selby has since dominated snooker’s world rankings finishing each of the last seven seasons at the top of the list in arguably snooker’s most competitive era ever. Although there were weeks during which Selby was overtaken by the likes of Ding Junhui, Judd Trump and Neil Robertson between 2011-2015, ever since his victory in Berlin against Shaun Murphy and in particular his five-title 2016/17 season, Selby has maintained a comfortable lead at the head of the prize money list.
However, with the money earned during his career-best season now set to be removed from his total during the coming months, Selby now faces his biggest challenge yet if he is to maintain his unbroken spell at the top of the list in 2019.
Incredibly, the player best placed to challenge him is Mark Williams, the man who Selby overtook to become number one for the first time seven years ago. Following an memorable 12 months for the Welshman, Williams has closed the gap at the top of the list to £314,375, but crucially has £571,150 less to be removed from his ranking between now and the end of the season than Selby.
With £170,000 of Selby’s total due to come off following the UK Championship after his victory in York back in 2016, compared to just £22,500 for Williams, this means that the reigning world champion could reclaim top spot with victory at the Barbican, if Selby were to lose to James Cahill in the first round next week.
While this would appear to be an outside chance, it does set the scene for a second half of the season which could see a fierce battle for top spot between Selby, Williams and also Ronnie O’Sullivan, who like Williams has significantly fewer points to defend than the current number one between now and May. With several big money events to come between now and the end of the season, not least the World Championship which will see its winner claim a staggering £500,000 top prize for the first time, it will be fascinating to see who will come out on top.
Follow regular updates on battle for number one and other ranking fights by @prosnookerblog over the coming months HERE.