Race to stay on tour 2010: All you need to know

Following the completion of the China Open qualifiers this week there is just one more tournament to play this season for the vast majority of those players battling for their main tour places. With those World Championship qualifiers just weeks away I have attempted to summarise as best I can who looks safe, who looks doomed and who are the players right in there with a chance of survival. Click below for all the information…

As those of you who follow the snooker circuit will know, of the 96 members of the professional circuit this season, only 72 will survive as of right and remain on the tour for the 20010/11 campaign. With plenty of points being available for the season-ending tournament therefore, it is absolutely crucial for those down the bottom to have a good run and to win as many rounds as possible, even if they fall short of appearing at the Crucible Theatre this April.

In this post I hope to be clarify the situation as it stands and just give my opinion on just who has the best chance of surviving, and who looks to have it all to do.

The venue of dreams…or nightmares?

All you need to know

As regular readers will be sick of me saying, the very latest provisional rankings can be found here , taking into account minimum points earned at both the China Open and the World Championship. Similarly, the one-year list can be found here.

To see the ranking points schedule and work out just how many points are available for reaching each round, click here.

To view the draw for the World Championship Qualifiers, please click here.

To stay on the main tour, the players must either finish in the top 64 on the two-year list, or in the top eight of those not in that 64, on the one-year list. For more details please view my ‘Fight for the 96’ post here.

To view the order of play and schedule for the World Championship qualifiers, please click here.

The Top 64 – who is safe?

Should be safe – Rod Lawler

It is always hard to say with certainty where the cut-off point is with regard to who looks to be definitely sure of finishing in the top 64 and never more so than this year given the form of tour returnees such as Tony Drago and James Wattana.

Barring something strange happening I would suggest that certainly those down to Rod Lawler in 54th position will be safe, particularly as both he and Tony Drago just below him have also qualified for the venue stage of the China Open and have the potential to add more points out in Beijing next month. Immediately behind those two are Jimmy Michie and Barry Pinches who are a little more vulnerable to being caught by chasers, but especially in Barry’s case would both be likely to finish inside the top eight on the one-year list in any event.

Behind Pinches however the race is incredibly tight. In fact there are just 2,068 points separating Mark Joyce who is on the face of it safe in 58th place and the resurgent James Wattana down in a tie for 73rd place! I expect that one win at the World Championship qualifiers would be enough for the likes of Joyce, David Morris, Jimmy White, John Parrott and Joe Delaney to hang on to their top 64 places but an early exit could see them sweating on other results.

In the case of Joyce his one-year tally is reasonable so if he were to crash out early and see other results conspire against him, he would probably keep his spot on the tour via that route anyway. The likes of White and Parrott however have experienced very disappointing campaigns and would not have such a luxury…

Who are the chasers?

In contention – Matt Couch

So who are the players most likely to overtake this group and steal a top 64 spot at the last? Well Matt Couch and Patrick Wallace are currently hanging on to 63rd and 64th places but the margins are so tight down that they will certainly have to win at least one match in Sheffield, probably two in order to be sure of remaining there at the end of the season.

Those breathing down their necks are Jimmy Robertson, Michael White, Bjorn Haneveer, Paul Davies, Simon Bedford, Jin Long, Joe Jogia, Xiao Guodong, Craig Steadman, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and James Wattana. Like Couch and Wallace these players will have to win roughly two or three matches to give themselves a great chance of a top 64 place at the end of the campaign, but the vast majority make up the top eight on the one-year list and may well survive even if they fall short.

The exceptions are Paul Davies and Jin Long who have both experienced tough campaigns and now see not only their top 64 status but their professional places in doubt.

Behind Wattana it becomes tougher to see somebody putting a run together and surging into the top 64, but given how this season has unfolded so far not impossible. In all likelihood though it would probably take a run to the final qualifying round or even the Crucible to see someone like Ben Woollaston breaking into the top 64.

The One-Year List – Who looks good?

Third time lucky on tour for Robertson?

The top 64 however is not the be all and end all as of course the top eight on the one-year list not already in the top 64 on the two-year list will also remain on the tour. This has the disadvantage that those players will have to start back in the first qualifying round next season but at least they will be on the circuit.

The current top eight (as now highlighted on my one-year rankings page), is as follows:

Jimmy Robertson – 5640

Michael White -5520

Bjorn Haneveer -5400

Simon Bedford – 4840

Joe Jogia – 4800

Xiao Guodong – 4790

Liu Song – 4740

Craig Steadman/Thepchaiya-un Nooh/James Wattana – 4610

With a number of other players within striking distance therefore all is still to play for given the amount of points available at the World Championship.

As you can see there is a sizeable gap separating third placed Bjorn Haneveer and fourth placed Simon Bedford and though there are so many points available, this is not insignificant. I would expect that one win would be enough to see the top three safe at least on the one-year list, with another win putting them into the hunt for the top 64.

The positions of those below however are far more precarious, indeed you can see that there is a three-way tie for eighth at the moment and ultimately only one of the three will be able to take a place.

That being said, immediately below Wattana there are just two players (Ben Woollaston and Sam Baird) within one win of that trio. There are other players such as Jimmy White who are closer on the one-year list but they are currently inside the top 64 anyway and if they do lose early and fail to stay there, will consequently not be able to add points to their one-year scores either.

Below Baird the likes of Anda Zhang, Li Hang and Atthasit Mahitthi are going to need at least two wins to stand any chance of getting into the top eight, much like Daniel Wells last year as he reached the final qualifying round to retain his place.

Who looks doomed?

Winless – David Roe

While anything is possible, there are a fair few players at the bottom of the rankings who look to be all but out of contention for a place on next season’s tour. On the two-year list I would suggest that anyone much lower than the trio tied in 73rd place is very unlikely to move up into the top 64. Certainly those below around 81st are in need of a miracle, not only needing to qualify for the Crucible but also having to win a match there.

As far as the one-year list is concerned, the battle is closer but as mentioned above those below Sam Baird will need to win at least two matches in order to threaten those inside the top eight at the moment. I can see a couple doing it but I would be very surprised to see anyone below David Gray doing enough to survive via this route.


As was the case last year I hope that has helped to flag up a few things and give you an idea of just how close things are further down the rankings. There are just weeks to go until the World Championship qualifiers take place in Sheffield and hopefully I will be there for the majority of them, updating the rankings daily and providing live updates via Twitter…