Following the conclusion of the China Open today, there is just one event remaining during the 2016/17 season as the annual battle for tour survival will be decided at the Betfred World Championship.
With the qualifiers set to get underway this Wednesday at Ponds Forge, Sheffield, with £8,000 riding on first round matches, continue reading for a reminder of how tour survival is determined and a look at who is safe and who needs results…
- Click here to view the latest provisional end of season ranking list – the key list to follow this week!
- Click here to view the latest one-year ranking list courtesy of snooker.org
- Click here to view the prize money schedule for 2016/17
Who Stays on Tour?
This is explained in some detail on my previous article here, but in summary, the following players will retain their professional places for 2017/18:
- All players ranked inside the top 64 on the two-year ranking list following the 2017 World Championship
- All players ranked outside of the top 64 on the two-year ranking list, who have joined the tour for 2016/17 on the first year of a two-year tour card
- The top eight players ranked on the one-year list, not already qualified as above. This includes prize money earned from the 2016 Riga Masters, up to and including the 2017 World Championship
Who will finish in the top 64?
With 64th placed Gary Wilson having currently earned £52,862 during the counting two-year period, we already look set to see the bar rise to potentially at least £60,000 required in order to stay on tour, significantly higher than ever before,
With £8,000 on offer for first-round winners at Ponds Forge, climbing to £12,000 for two wins and £16,000 for reaching the Crucible, there remains scope for several players to break into the top 64 if they can string a run together in Sheffield.
Importantly, the players able to finish the season in the top 64 on the two-year list will earn a one-year tour card for the following season, but will retain their prize money earned, rather than start again from zero, as those qualifying on a two-year card will have to.
Who is on the first year of a two-year card?
Simply put, those players who are safe due to being on the first year of a two-year tour card, are those highlighted in green on the latest provisional end of season rankings page.
For the avoidance of doubt, those players are:
- Anthony Hamilton, Yan Bingtao, Scott Donaldson, Zhang Anda, Mei Xiwen, John Astley, Liam Highfield, Zhao Xintong, James Wattana, Michael Georgiou, Mitchell Mann, Lee Walker, Jak Jones, Sam Craigie, Aditya Mehta, Wang Yuchen, Craig Steadman, Hammad Miah, Alex Borg, Elliot Slessor, Adam Duffy, Ian Preece, Josh Boileau, Kritsanut Lertsattayathorn, Fang Xiongman, Cao Yupeng, Christopher Keogan, Boonyarit Keattikun, Chen Zhe, Jamie Barrett, Kurt Dunham, David John, Leo Fernandez, Rouzi Maimaiti
What about the rest?
The safe zone
Looking at the provisional end of season list, it would appear safe to assume that everyone from Jack Lisowski in 55th position upwards will definitely be safe, Lisowski currently on £66,162 and with a buffer of more than £8,000 to Ian Burns behind him, nearly double that to those outside of the top 64.
From Burns down to Gary Wilson in 64th position there is a group of nine players separated by just £4,950, all currently in position to retain both their pro status and importantly their prize money total on the ranking list.
- 56th – Ian Burns – £57.812
- 57th – Oliver Lines – £56,787
- 58th – Alfie Burden – £56,350
- 59th – Li Hang – £56,075
- 60th – Daniel Wells – £55,512
- 61st – Yan Bingtao – £55,125 (first year)
- 62nd – Hossein Vafaei Ayouri – £53,625
- 63rd – Chris Wakelin – £53,275
- 64th – Gary Wilson – £52,862
In all likelihood, an opening round victory for these players at Ponds Forge will likely be enough to see them retain their places, perhaps two for those just on the borderline.
Of these players, if they were to drop out of the top 64 then as it stands, all would finish inside the top eight on the one-year list and so not be relegated from the tour, however would see their prize money totals reset for zero ahead of the new season.
For 61st placed Yan Bingtao, the pressure is less still as he is on the first year of a two-year card and so will retain his prize money at the end of the season whatever happens and be well-placed to push higher up the ranking list in 2017/18.
Need at least one win
There are three players (Robin Hull, Scott Donaldson and Ross Muir), who could potentially break into the top 64 with a single win at Ponds Forge, depending upon the results of those ranked above them.
- 65th – Robin Hull – £52,375
- 66th – Scott Donaldson – £51,525 (first year)
- 67th – Ross Muir – £47,150
Again, if they do not make it then these players are in contention to qualify via the one-year list, while like Yan Bingtao mentioned above, Donaldson is currently on the first year of his current tour card and so safe regardless of his performances in Sheffield.
Need at least two wins
In the next group come another three players, but this is where it starts to get interesting as all are also in trouble on the one-year list.
- 68th – Noppon Saengkham – £44,050
- 69th – Dechawat Poomjaeng – £43,275
- 70th – Joe Swail – £41,387
For Noppon Saengkham, although he is currently in position to earn a fresh tour card as one of the best eight players on the one-year list, not already inside of the top 64 on the two-year list, opening round defeat in Ponds Forge would likely see him overtaken by the chasing pack.
As for Dechawat Poomjaeng and Joe Swail meanwhile, the situation is worse still as both players are currently well outside of that top eight after their poor seasons respectively, meaning that each player likely needs to win at least two matches in Sheffield in order to avoid a potential trip to Q School.
Need the Crucible
There are six players who would need to reach the Crucible in order to break into the world’s top 64, while if not, the £16,000 earned from such a run would surely at least see them qualify for a fresh tour card via the one-year list.
- 71st – Rod Lawler – £40,437
- 72nd – Nigel Bond – £40,275
- 73rd – Ken Doherty – £39,400
- 74th – Jamie Cope – £39,125
- 75th – Martin O’Donnell – £38,950
- 76th – Zhang Anda – £38,500 (first year)
Of these, both Rod Lawler and Nigel Bond are currently in position on the one-year list, while Zhang Anda is on the first year of his current card.
The players under real pressure therefore are Ken Doherty, Jamie Cope and Martin O’Donnell, with former world champion Doherty needing multiple victories under either list if he is to extend his unbroken spell on tour that he has enjoyed since 1990.
As for the remaining players, all would need to qualify for and win at least one match at the Crucible, which with £25,000 on offer for reaching the last 16 would surely be enough under at least the one-year list.
The One Year List
On the subject of the one-year list, taking into account only players currently ranked outside of the top 64 on the provisional end of season list, not on the first year of their current card, those currently in position to take the eight places are:
- Robin Hull – £32,375
- Akani Songsermsawad – £25,500
- Rhys Clark – £24,425
- Ross Muir – £23,000
- Nigel Bond – £21,500
- Noppon Saengkham – £20,550
- Allan Taylor – £20,237
- Rod Lawler – £19,712
The closest chasers are:
- Eden Sharav – £19,525
- Jimmy White – £19,525
- Duane Jones – £16,837
- Andy Hicks (A) – £16,050
- Peter Lines (A) – £14,712
- Paul Davison – £14,500
- Jamie Cope – £14,025
- Joe Swail – £13,362
- Fraser Patrick – £12,550
- Sanderson Lam – £12,250
- Igor Figueiredo – £11,725
- Zhang Yong – £11,550
- Darren Morgan (A) – £11,250
- Ken Doherty – £10,750
- James Cahill – £10,425
With £8,000 on offer for that sought after opening round victory, the potential for significant change is obvious, with defeat for the likes of Nigel Bond, Noppon Saengkham, Allan Taylor and Rod Lawler potentially fatal.
How can I follow the battles?
I will post a separate Tour Survival Blog no later than Tuesday here at WPBSA.com, which will follow all of the movements and changes to both the provisional end of season list and one-year list during every day of action from Ponds Forge next week.
You can also follow me on Twitter @prosnookerblog for all of the latest updates.