The is just one event still to be completed during this extended 2019/20 season as the battle for tour survival will be decided at the Betfred World Championship later this month.
As always, there are several players in the mix including a number of big names still chasing crucial victories to secure their WST places for next term.
What is the provisional end of season ranking list?
The provisional end of season ranking list includes all money earned during last season (2018/19), and so far from the ongoing 2019/20 season.
This differs from the official rolling world ranking list, which still currently counts prize money from the 2017/18 season. As this is set to be deducted throughout the course of this season however, this money has already been removed from the table to reflect the ‘live’ tour survival standings.
How will tour places be decided?
At the end of this season (i.e. after the 2020 World Championship), all players not on the first year of a two-year tour card must either finish inside the world’s top 64 on the official two-year ranking list, or as one of the top four money earners during the 2019/20 season to be guaranteed a tour place from the start of next season.
Who is already safe?
Players who are already confirmed for next season those who were able to earn a two-year tour card for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons, either via the Q School, international competitions or by other means.
All of these players have been highlighted in green on the latest provisional end of season ranking list.
Who is at risk?
In short – everyone else.
All players who retained their main tour places for this season by finishing in the top 64 at the end of last season, or who began their two-year tour cards at the start of 2018/19, must earn their place for the 2020/21 season.
Of course those higher up the rankings will have nothing to worry about, but the closer they are to the all-important ‘top 64’ cut-off, the more vulnerable they are to being overtaken following the World Championship.
How can players stay on tour?
There are two ways for current tour players to be able to retain their places on tour for the 2020/21 season without the need to re-qualify via Q School:
By finishing in the top 64 of the world rankings at the end of the 2019/20 season.
Traditionally the cut-off point for tour survival, the top 64 on the official world ranking list following the 2020 World Championship will retain their places on tour for at least another season.
What is the cut-off point likely to be? A few years ago approximately £50,000 would have been enough to finish inside of the top 64, but with the significant increase in prize money for the early rounds in competitions in recent years, this figure has increased significantly to £60,050 (2017), £86,900 (2018) and last season £86,500 earned by England’s Mike Dunn during the two years up to the end of May 2019.
This season, even with the cancellation of the China Open, Jak Jones (who currently occupies 64th position on the latest provisional end of season ranking list), has £72,750 banked, meaning that approximately £80,000 could be required for safety this time around.
It is also to be noted that Peter Ebdon was removed from the official world ranking list following the Tour Championship earlier this month, with each of the players ranked below him having climbed one place as a result.
The top 64 players in August will each earn a fresh one-year card for the 2020/21 season.
By finishing in the top four of the one-year list, not already qualified for the main tour
Under the ‘one-year list’ route, the top four players taking into account prize money earned solely during the 2019/20 season, who finish outside of the top 64 on the main two-year ranking list, will earn a new tour card.
This means that players out of the running on the two-year list, for example due to a poor first season (in this case 2018/19), still have every chance of earning a fresh two-year card with strong performances during their second year.
At the time of writing, those currently in place to earn tour places via this route are:
- Elliot Slessor (£41,000)
- Liam Highfield (£34,500)
- Jordan Brown (£31,500)
- Michael White (£28,750)
The chasing pack:
Zhang Anda (£27,750) – not entered WC
- Michael Georgiou (£24,500)
- Fergal O’Brien (£24,000)
- Alfie Burden (£23,000)
- Ken Doherty (£20,750)
- Harvey Chandler (£19,750)
The four players who finish in these positions at the end of this season will earn a two-year card for the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons.
New for 2020 it has also been announced by WST that if any player comes through the qualifying rounds to reach the final stages of the Betfred World Championship at the Crucible, but finishes the season outside the official top 64, he or she will earn a two-year tour card.
This gives extra hope to those players not currently close to retaining their tour card through either the one or two-year lists, who can secure their status by qualifying for the Crucible.
What are the main points of interest?
With just the World Championship still to be completed it is now clear which players are at risk of losing their tour card but with up to £500,000 to be won for winning the tournament there is still much that can change at the season’s biggest event.
Champions at Risk
Perhaps the main headline is that there are three players who have each won a full-ranking event during the past four seasons who head to Sheffield in real danger of relegation from the circuit.
Best placed is 2016 German Masters champion Martin Gould, who in 60th position (having climbed one due to the retirement of Peter Ebdon), has a buffer of £4,650 to 65th placed Michael Georgiou. However, with both players able to win £10,000 by winning their opening match at the tournament, defeat for Gould in his could prove fatal to his chances with the Pinner Potter also delicately placed on the one-year ranking list (£31,750).
Georgiou himself was a ranking event winner just two years ago at the Shoot Out and has recently fallen down the list following the removal of the prize money earned at that event from his ranking total. He heads to Sheffield just outside of the top 64 knowing that he must win at least one match if he is to have a chance of staying on the circuit via either list.
Also in danger remains two-time ranking event champion Michael White, who has fallen to 71st position on the provisional end of season ranking list, over £10,000 away from the top 64. However, in White’s favour is the fact that with the retirement of Peter Ebdon, fellow Welshman Jak Jones – who was set to take one of the four tour cards available through the one-year list) has currently moved up a position into the top 64, with White taking his spot on the one-year list.
The likelihood remains however that like Georgiou, White will need to win at least one match in Sheffield to boost his position and more if he is to reclaim a top 64 place.
As well as these recent champions, there are a number of players who have been on tour for as long as 30 years who are facing relegation from the circuit, including Irish duo Ken Doherty and Fergal O’Brien. Both similarly positioned on each ranking list, the experienced pair again know that at least one victory, likely two will be required if they are to remain in contention to stay on tour.
Similarly, Mike Dunn, Alfie Burden and Lee Walker are among the most experienced players who also find themselves needing a run in Sheffield if they are to have any chance of extending their spells on tour.
Of course this year’s tournament takes place in unusual circumstances and there are a small number of players who have taken the decision not to travel to compete. Among them, four were directly in the tour survival battle, with Zhang Anda, James Wattana, Zhang Jiankang and Andy Lee already now due to drop off the circuit at the end of the season.
You will be able to follow the match-by-match impact of this year’s results at the World Championship qualifiers and at the Crucible itself here at wpbsa.com via our ‘live blog’ which will run through the event in Sheffield.