With less than three months to go until the current 2020/21 season is completed on the World Snooker Tour, today we take a look at the current standings in the race for ‘Tour Survival.’
How will tour places be decided?
At the end of this season (i.e. after the 2021 World Championship), all players not on the first year of a two-year tour card must finish inside of the world’s top 64 on the official world ranking list to remain on the circuit next term.
Additionally, the top eight money earners during the current 2020/21 season, who are outside of that top 64 on the two-year list, will earn a fresh tour card. All other players will be relegated, unless they are able to re-qualify through Q School.
What is the provisional end of season ranking list?
The provisional end of season ranking list includes all money earned during last season (2019/20), and from the current 2020/21 season.
This differs from the official rolling world ranking list, which still currently includes prize money from the 2018/19 season which will not count towards the race for next season’s tour places. To provide the most accurate picture of the Tour Survival battle, this money has already been removed from the table.
Who is safe?
Those who do not have to worry (for this season at least), are those players who were able to earn a two-year tour card for the 2020/21 and 2021/22 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?
All players who finished in the top 64 at the end of last season, or who began their two-year tour cards at the start of 2019/20.
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 on the provisional end of season ranking list, the more uncertain their position.
How can players stay on tour?
By finishing in the top 64 at the end of the 2020/21 season.
Traditionally the cut-off point for tour survival, the top 64 on the official world ranking list following the 2021 World Championship will retain their places on tour for at least another season.
What is the cut-off point likely to be? In recent seasons over £80,000 has been required to finish inside of the top 64, however due to the nature of this unique, Covid-19 disrupted season, this figure looks likely to drop this time around.
At the time of writing, Nigel Bond (who currently occupies 64th position on the provisional end of season ranking list), has £56,250 to his name, meaning that the final figure could fall somewhere around the £70,000 mark to retain their tour status – and importantly – carry their ranking and prize money total into next season.
The top 64 players next May will each earn a fresh one-year card for the 2021/22 season.
By finishing in the top eight of the one-year list, not already qualified
Under the ‘one-year list’ route, the top eight (increased by WST from the previous four due to the exceptional circumstances this season) players taking into account prize money earned solely during the 2020/21 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 2019/20), 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:
- Xu Si (£21,000)
- Chang Bingyu (£20,000)
- Jamie O’Neill (£20,000)
- Andy Hicks (£19,500)
- Chris Wakelin (£17,000)
- Luo Honghao (£17,000)
- Sam Craigie (£16,500)
- Jackson Page / Igor Figueiredo (£16,000)
The eight players who finish in these positions at the end of this season will earn a two-year card for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons. Unlike those who qualify through the top 64 however, their ranking points will be reset to zero at the start of next season.
Players to Follow
This season more than ever, the race for Tour Survival looks to be tighter than ever with several players set to face a defining match at the upcoming Betfred World Championship qualifiers which could make the difference between finishing inside of the top 64 or not.
Among the most notable names, Jimmy Robertson – a ranking event winner little more than two years ago – has slipped to 63rd position on the provisional end of season rankings and is just £2,250 ahead of 65th placed Chris Wakelin. With just £8,000 banked so far this term, Robertson is also not in position to retain his place via the one-year ranking list, so will know that wins will be required if he is to avoid a shock relegation.
Similarly, former Masters champion Alan McManus, Tian Pengfei, Yuan Sijun and Ian Burns each find themselves currently in the lower reaches of the top 64 and without sufficient prize money earned on the one-year ranking list to earn a fresh card if they were to slip out, so will be targeting a strong finish to the season.
Of those currently outside of the top 64 on the provisional end of season list are a number of players who began the season ranked inside of that bracket. Chris Wakelin, Luo Honghao and Sam Craigie are the closest three players to the top 64 and are each ‘on the bubble’ as far as the one-year list is concerned, meaning that every win will be crucial for that group over the coming weeks.
For Daniel Wells the threat is all the more real as with just £2,000 to his name this season, the Welshman who began the season ranked 56th is currently down in 72nd place on the provisional list and £18,000 from safety.
And of course two players who are set to be relegated from the circuit are three-time ranking event winner Marco Fu and China’s Mei Xiwen, both of whom have not competed on tour this season.
The next opportunity for players to add to their totals comes next week at the BetVictor Welsh Open from the Celtic Manor.
Keep an eye out here at WPBSA.com for all of the latest updates throughout the season, as well as confirmation as to other routes by which players can qualify for the tour in due course.