As we approach the end of 2014, today I take a look at the players on the professional circuit who have made the biggest gains on the world ranking list over the past 12 months.
To do so, I have used the official ranking list published after the 2013 UK Championship (still using the old points system) and compared it to the latest list, published after the Kreativ Dental Lisbon Open last week.
To avoid the list being heavily distorted by those lower down the rankings climbing above players who have since fallen off the tour, I have limited my selection to those players currently ranked inside the world’s top 64.
So who have been the most upwardly mobile players in 2014?
1) David Morris (+36)
Since returning to the main tour in May 2013 through the Q School, David Morris has without doubt gone on to enjoy the strongest period of his professional career to date.
Although his rise up the rankings has been assisted by the relegation of professionals that were ranked above him a year ago, with results such as his successive last 16 runs at the UK Championship in 2013 and 2014, as well as his quarter-final run at the 2013 Wuxi Classic, he has been able to climb an impressive 36 places to a career-high during the past 12 months.
Now firmly established as Ireland’s number three, David will be hoping for even better in 2015.
2) Kyren Wilson (+32)
Like Morris above, Kyren Wilson is another player to have regained a place on the main tour in 2013 following his previous relegation and has so far grabbed the opportunity before him with both hands during the past 18 months.
Rising from 92nd place a year ago to 60th today, the highlight of Kyren’s year was to come at the biggest tournament of all, as he won four matches to qualify for the venue stages of the 2014 Dafabet World Championship back in April.
3) Gary Wilson (+25)
Another to have regained his place on the circuit in the spring of 2013, Gary Wilson enjoyed a strong return to the circuit and has been rewarded with a rise of 25 places in the rankings during the past year.
Although consistent runs have proven harder to come by in 2014, the strength of his results in 2013 has been enough to leave him in contention for a place inside the world’s top 64 at the end of the season.
4) Ronnie O’Sullivan (+21)
Perhaps the most surprising name on this list and the biggest example of the impact of the change from a points based ranking list to one based on prize money, Ronnie O’Sullivan has climbed 21 places in the rankings to 3rd position in 2014.
With the rankings now placing a greater emphasis on titles than consistency, Ronnie’s victories at tournaments such as the UK Championship and Welsh Open in 2014, as well as the prize money earned at the Crucible both in 2013 and 2014, have seen him end the year well placed to regain top spot early in 2015.
5= Alan McManus (+19)
It has been quite a couple of years for Scottish veteran Alan McManus, who has risen from as low as 55th in the rankings after the 2012 UK Championship, to his current ranking of 24th.
With his quarter-final run at the 2014 Dafabet World Championship an obvious highlight, as well as last eight appearances at the Shanghai Masters and Haikou World Open events, could Alan be a contender for a top 16 place in 2015?
5= Kurt Maflin (+19)
The second of four players to have climbed 19 places in the rankings over the past 12 months, Norway’s Kurt Maflin has this year risen into the world’s top 32 for the first time in his career.
His strongest performance of 2014 was to perhaps come at the German Masters, where he defeated Mark Selby on his way to the last 16 stage, whilst he also repeated that run at the Haikou World Open in March.
5= Matt Selt (+19)
Having dropped from a career-high ranking of 37th to 56th a year ago, Matt Selt has responded impressively in 2014 to finish the year back up at number 37.
With semi-final runs in Gdynia and Haining this year, subsequently bettered by his progress to a first professional final in Lisbon earlier in the month, it has been a strong period for Selt and he will now be targeting silverware in 2015.
5= Dechawat Poomjaeng (+19)
Thailand’s Dechawat Poomjaeng lit up the Crucible with his victory against Stephen Maguire in 2013 and he has since continued to win matches on the main tour to climb to his current ranking of 41.
His best run of 2014 came at the Paul Hunter Classic, where he made it through to the quarter-finals, while he also made it through to the last eight of the Asian Tour 4 event in March.
9) Gerard Greene (+17)
Up 17 places since the turn of the year, the highlight of 2014 for Gerard Greene was unquestionably his run to the final of the Wyldecrest Parks Players Championship Grand Finals in March.
Having qualified for the event largely thanks to his run to the final of the 2013 Paul Hunter Classic, Greene earned a career-high £38,000 in Preston, which in conjunction with the change to a prize-money based ranking list this year, was easily enough to see him remain on tour.
10= Rod Lawler (+16)
Since he regained his main tour status at Q School in 2012, Rod Lawler has hardly looked back, winning his first professional title in the same year and earlier in 2014, making it through to the semi-finals of the German Masters in Berlin.
As a result, Rod now sits up in 34th place in the official world rankings, his highest position since the 1997/1998 season.
10=Mike Dunn (+16)
Similar to Gerard’s rise above, Mike Dunn was to climb 16 places in the rankings thanks to his run at one tournament in particular, the 2014 China Open.
With his tour place far from certain, Mike flew out to China well in advance of the tournament to practice and acclimatise to the conditions and his reward was to be a maiden semi-final appearance, defeating players such as Mark Selby along the way.
The £21,000 that he earned was enough to see him comfortably retain his place on tour and provide him with a solid platform on which to build in 2015.