As we approach the halfway stage of this year’s Betfred World Championship, today I take a look at the big ranking stories so far this week and consider some of the potential changes that could yet come to pass.
At the top of the tree, we already knew coming into the tournament that defending champion Mark Selby is guaranteed to retain the retain the world number one ranking, such was the extent of his lead to the chasing pack.
With second placed Judd Trump already out of the tournament following his shock exit to Rory McLeod in the opening round however, we could now see somebody emerge from the chasing pack to replace him behind Selby on the list.
In fact, with a record £375,000 on offer to the winner this week, victory for any of the remaining top 16 players in the tournament (Ding Junhui, John Higgins, Marco Fu, Neil Robertson, Barry Hawkins, Kyren Wilson and Ronnie O’Sullivan), would be guaranteed to see them climb above Trump up into second place.
In respect of the top eight, mathematically anyone still remaining in the tournament could break into that bracket, but closest challengers Kyren Wilson and Ronnie O’Sullivan could do so by reaching the final.
The player closest to breaking into the top 16 is Scotland’s Stephen Maguire, 6-2 up overnight against Rory McLeod and needing to reach the semi-finals to overhaul 15th placed Mark Williams, while those behind him would need to make at least the final.
In terms of new highs, Kyren Wilson is currently set to climb to a new career-best 13th position, although this could still change if Ronnie O’Sullivan were to progress further this week.
With their second round defeats, 2015 finalists Stuart Bingham and Shaun Murphy are currently set to fall down to ninth and seventh respectively with the removal of their prize money. Also losing out are first round seeded losers Anthony McGill and Ryan Day, who both pay the price by falling outside of the top 16 with Martin Gould and Mark Williams taking their places as it stands.
Elsewhere, Zhou Yuelong is currently set to break into the top 32 for the first time in 32nd, while 17-year-old Yan Bingtao will finish the season at a new high of 56th position.
For Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham, despite his heavy defeat to Neil Robertson earlier in the week, by qualifying for the Crucible he has at least ensured that he will finish the season up inside the top 64. For a reminder of how the tour survival battle finished up, check out my previous blog.
The action continues…