Rankings Watch 2009/10: Shanghai Masters Edition

One down, five to go and with the increased ranking points on offer for the two events over in China this season, those who managed to get their seasons off to a strong start have been well rewarded…

Starting the season in third place on the provisional rankings and a full 7,125 points behind Scotland’s John Higgins, current world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan needed a strong start to this season as he bids to retain the top spot for a third successive year. This is exactly what he has delivered as he has won the Shanghai Masters tournament and having defeated John in the semi-finals, he has now got the gap down to ‘just’ 4,605, whilst also moving ahead of last 16 loser Ali Carter. It is still a significant gap for Ronnie to make up but he can do no more than win tournaments and he won’t be too far away come May.

Another man jumping above Ali Carter is semi-finalist Shaun Murphy who is now back up into the third place that he has seemingly made his own during the last few years. Over 7,000 points behind Higgins and nearly 3,000 behind O’Sullivan himself, he will have to go some to improve on this however.

Elsewhere in the top 10 little has changed, Ryan Day making the biggest move by leapfrogging Stephen Maguire and Neil Robertson into 5th place while Marco Fu has consolidated his position in 8th. Note that while the official provisional rankings on the World Snooker website have given Maguire zero points for this event, he is almost sure to be given his first round losers points at a later date when the medical details have come through and I have given him 980 points to reflect this.

Moving down the list it is not long before we come across Chinese duo Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo who despite both losing out to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the tournament, have made significant gains this week. For Ding he has been able to move back up inside the top 16 while first-time finalist Liang Wenbo has managed to climb 14 places thanks to the 5,600 points earned at his home event. Not only does this move him right behind his countryman Ding but it also means that he is in the top 16 provisionally for the first time and if he can continue to play like he has done recently, could well stay there.

The other big mover of course has been 1997 world champion Ken Doherty who won a series of close matches to reach his first quarter-final since the 2007 China Open. Though he could do nothing about Shaun Murphy in the last eight, he has now ensured that he will earn no fewer than 6,830 points at the end of this season, just under a thousand less than last season’s total already! In terms of his position this means that although he remains well down the list in 38th place, he has moved up six places and importantly is now right in touch with those immediately above him.

Having looked at those moving up, who have the big losers been from Shanghai? Current top 16 regulars Peter Ebdon and Joe Perry are two players who I believe are very much in danger of losing their elite status this season and having both lost in the last 32, I see no reason to change my mind just yet. As Peter himself proved last season by winning the China Open, things can change very quickly but for him this was very much an anomalous result in an otherwise poor season and his current position of number 20 in the provisional list reflects this.

It was also not a good event for Steve Davis, Judd Trump and Dave Harold, three players who were in contention for a top 16 place at the end of the campaign and by losing their opening match, have given themselves a bit more work to do. In truth Dave’s best chance probably came last season, while despite his good run early last season it will also be a tough one for Steve Davis. For Judd though he will certainly be targeting moving up into the elite and his defeat at the hands of Marcus Campbell is a set-back. He will not have to wait long for a chance to gain revenge at least as the pair are scheduled to meet again in the Grand Prix qualifiers next week.

Finally a mention must of course go to Matt Selt who by reaching the last 32 stage of an event for the first time has moved up inside the all-important top 64 provisionally. With a lead of virtually 1,000 points over 65th placed Simon Bedford, if he can remain consistent and continue to win a few matches this season then he will stand a very good chance of staying there.