Following victory for Mark Williams at the recent WST Pro Series, there is now just one ranking event of the season to be completed for all but eight of the current tour players and today we preview the latest standings in the race for ‘Tour Survival’ 2021.
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.
Finally, any player who qualifies for the Crucible stages of the Betfred World Championship, but would otherwise not stay on tour, will also earn a fresh two-year tour card.
All other players will be relegated, unless they are able to re-qualify through Q School.
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 Q School, international competitions or by other means.
It is worth nothing however, that should these players break into the world’s top 64 during their first year, this will have a knock-on effect on the overall Tour Survival battle.
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?
The top 64
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 will be lower this season.
At the time of writing, Ian Burns (who currently occupies 64th position on the provisional end of season ranking list), has £59,500 to his name. During last year’s World Championship, the amount won by the player ranked 64th increased by £12,000 from the start of the event, meaning that this year’s figure could be approximately £70,000-£75,000 at the conclusion of the 2021 event..
The top 64 players next May will each earn a fresh one-year card for the 2021/22 season.
The One-Year List
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.
At the time of writing, those currently in place to earn tour places via this route are:
- Jamie O’Neill (£25,000)
- Chang Bingyu (£24,000)
- Chris Wakelin (£22,000)
- Xu Si (£21,000)
- Jimmy White (£20,000)
- Andy Hicks (£19,500)
- Louis Heathcote (£19,000)
- Chen Zifan (£19,000)
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.
Those currently chasing the top eight are:
- Igor Figueiredo (£18,000)
- Luo Honghao (£17,500)
- Jackson Page (£16,000)
- Michael White (A) (14,000)
- Yuan Sijun (£13,500)
- Gerard Greene (£13,000)
- David Lilley (£12,500)
- James Cahill (£12,500)
- Peifan Lei (£12,500)
- Duane Jones (£11,500)
- Eden Sharav (£9,500)
- Soheil Vahedi (£9,500)
+16 current professionals with £9,000 or less
Players to Follow
Always a dramatic battle which sees plenty of twists and turns throughout the week, this year’s Tour Survival climax at the World Championship looks set to be no different with big money to be won and barely £15,000 separating Sam Craigie in 56th, from 69th placed Luo Honghao as things stand.
Beginning with those players currently ranked inside of the top 64, but likely needing to win one match in Sheffield to make sure of their position, the likes of Alan McManus and Dominic Dale fall under this category, as does Sam Craigie who leapt up the list last week having earned £20,500 following his third place finish at the WST Pro Series.
Similarly Joe O’Connor and Lyu Haotian would also likely be safe via the one-year ranking list if they were to drop out, however with just £15,500 earned so far this season, 61st placed Jimmy Robertson can expect to need at least one win in Sheffield to stay on tour.
Tian Pengfei, Nigel Bond and Ian Burns currently round out the top half of the ranking list and like Robertson, are not assured of safety via the one-year list if they were to fall out, therefore will need to win at least one match – probably two – to feel safe.
And so what of those currently outside of the top 64 and chasing a place?
Interestingly, there are only five players within striking distance of the top bracket, followed by a £9,000 gap to 70th placed Jackson Page. Of these five, Jamie Jones is already guaranteed his place on tour next season as he is only on the first year of his current two-year card. He does though remain relevant to the Tour Survival battle as if he were to break into the top 64, he would push somebody else out, who may or may not then take a place from the one-year list.
Both just £250 behind Burns in a tie for 65th position, Louis Heathcote and Chris Wakelin remain well in contention to qualify via either list, while Luo Honghao is a little further back, but also within striking distance.
For Yuan Sijun however, with just £13,500 won so far this season, the two-year list looks to provide his best opportunity of retaining his place, the 20-year-old currently only £1,500 behind 64th placed Burns.
Turning to the remaining players at risk via the two-year ranking list,with 70th placed Jackson Page over £15,000 away from the top 64, either qualification via the one-year list, or Crucible qualification, would represent the best chance for him and those below him to avoid Q School this spring.
As every year, we will have an regularly updated blog/standings available here at WPBSA.com throughout the Betfred World Championship from 5 April.