Tomorrow sees the start of the 2015 Shanghai Masters, the biggest event of the season to date and following its conclusion next week, the rankings will again be updated and the seedings revised for the second time in 2015/16..
As ever, prize money from older events held two years ago, namely the first three European Tour events of the 2013/14 season and the 2013 Shanghai Masters, will be removed and replaced by that won so far this season.
Taking these changes into account, below I consider what is at stake in terms of seedings for the upcoming International Championship events and what can change during the course of the next week in Shanghai.
Battle for Number 1
We can already see that Mark Selby is already assured of retaining this place at the top of the world rankings following the Shanghai Masters.
This is because although Stuart Bingham would win £85,000 if he were to become the first player to successfully defend the title in Shanghai, it would not be enough to see him catch Selby, who is some £140,000 ahead of him going into the tournament.
Fellow chasers Ding Junhui and Neil Robertson are currently even further adrift with another £100,000 separating them and Bingham, while fifth placed Ronnie O’Sullivan will not be competing in Shanghai.
The Top Eight
There could however be some movement in respect of the top eight, with Joe Perry, Mark Allen and Ricky Walden all mathematically capable of moving ahead of Kaspersky Lab Riga Open winner Barry Hawkins.
In all likelihood, each of them would have to win the title (the final would be enough for Perry if Hawkins were to lose his opening match), while a semi-final run from Hawkins would be enough to keep him ahead of Walden.
The Top 16
At first glance the battle for top 16 places looks to be wide open, but upon closer inspection of the draw and the ranking list it is evident that everyone down to and including 14th placed Mark Williams is guaranteed to remain inside that bracket after the Shanghai Masters.
That means that there are two places still to be decided, with 15th placed Stephen Maguire the first player who could mathematically be overtaken after the event.
Able to catch him with a run to the final are both Michael White and Graeme Dott, while there are a further eight players who could edge ahead of him by claiming the title.
Maguire’s position is however in his own hands, with a run to the quarter-finals enough for him to retain his top 16 status..
The other player vulnerable then is current 16th placed man Michael White, who holds a narrow advantage of £4,633 to 17th placed Graeme Dott.
Victory for Graeme against Ryan Day would be enough to see the pair switch places if Michael were to lose a difficult opening match against Mark Davis, but if White were to win that match then Dott would need to reach at least the semi-finals to overhaul him. Both are in the bottom half of the draw so that could be something to follow as the tournament progresses.
Aside from Dott, the next players who could catch White are Robert Milkins, Mark Davis and Ryan Day, all of whom would need to reach at least the final, while there are a further seven who could yet catch him by taking home the title.
The Top 32
Turning to the top 32 mark and this is relatively set as surprisingly, a number of players in this section of the rankings have failed to qualify for the venue stages in Shanghai.
This means that Leicester’s Ben Woollaston is set to end the cut-off in 32nd place, unless either Luca Brecel or Mike Dunn are able to reach the final, or Tom Ford or Kyren Wilson are able to claim the title.
The Top 64
Last but certainly not least comes the cut-off for the top 64, as players look to earn themselves an opening round match at the International Championship against one of the players ranked outside of that bracket, rather than inside of it.
Currently in 64th spot is China’s Cao Yupeng and he will remain there unless either David Grace or Jamie Cope (the latter a former semi-finalist at this event), are able to win the title.