Race to stay on tour 2011: All you need to know

It is that time of year again as a number of the main tour players prepare to play in the World Championship qualifiers, their final tournament of the season and last chance therefore to gain crucial points required to stay on the main tour. Click below for my look at who has to do what to get inside that all-important top 48 and how any changes might affect those currently safe via the PTC list…

All you need to know

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 2011/12 campaign.

The first 64 places will be taken by the top 64 occupying the two-year rankings at the end of the season.

The remaining eight places will go to the top eight professional players on the PTC Order of Merit that are not already inside the top 64 described above. Click here for more on how all of the tour places are allocated.

So what information will be useful here? As regular readers will be sick of me saying, the very latest projected seedings, provisional rankings, whatever you want to call them – can be found here. Note that this list unlike that published on World Snooker also takes into account minimum points earned at both the China Open, PTC finals and the World Championship.

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

The Top 64 – who is safe?

Should be safe – Ant McGill

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, just look at the recent runs of Kurt Maflin and Issara Kachaiwong which have demonstrated that almost anyone can string a few results together regardless of their previous form this season.

Taking a cautious view therefore, I am confident that everyone as far down to 58th placed Anthony McGill will definitely finish inside the top 64 next season. Realistically though I also think that Andy Hicks and Ian McCulloch should be ok as to be usurped, the next couple of players would have to win one match, the next couple two matches and those afterwards at least three. While it is possible that some of them will, it was take a strange set of results for all of them to.

Those in 61st and 62nd position are Bjorn Haneveer and Jimmy Robertson are in more danger. If they were to lose their openers then if three or four players ranked immediately below them could go on a winning run then they could be bumped out.

While it would be inconvenient for Bjorn or Jimmy to be knocked out of the top 64, it would at least be some consolation to them that they would nevertheless remain on the main tour via the PTC list, as would most of the players around them with the exception of Rod Lawler.

Who are the chasers?

Who though can throw a spanner in the works and what exactly would this mean?

Turning again to my projected seedings list, the first five players currently ranked outside of the top 64 all currently have their names in yellow, showing that they are set to retain their tour places via the PTC list as it stands.

For your information the current totals of the PTC players not ranked inside the top 64 are:

Matt Couch – £6,100
Liu Chuang – £4,900
Andrew Pagett – £4,800
Liu Song – £4,200
Michael White – £4,000
Paul Davison – £3,600
Ben Woollaston – £3,600
Igor Figueiredo – £2,800

Jimmy Michie – £2,200
Issara Kachaiwong – £2,000

Given that everyone above those currently occupying 65th-69th on the two year list up to Hicks (who as already discussed is unlikely to drop out of the 64), has also performed well on the PTC, what this means in practice is that if Matt Couch for example was to go on a run at the World qualifiers and leap ahead of Liam Highfield into 64th place, Liam would simply take Couch’s ‘yellow’ place and remain on the tour via the top eight instead. For most of these players therefore they know that they will remain on the tour either way.

Where the interest lies – James Wattana

The interest however comes with the next three players, namely James Wattana, Kyren Wilson and David Morris. Nowhere on the PTC list, to survive they now need to go on a run at Sheffield and snatch a top 64 place. If they can do this, what would happen is that they would push out one of the players currently in, again let’s just suppose Liam Highfield.

If this happened, Liam would of course still be safe, taking one of the eight PTC spots, but this time it would be at the expense of the player currently ranked bottom of the eight, namely Igor Figueiredo. By the same logic, if two of that three were to get into the top 64, Ben Woollaston would lose out as well (or Xiao Guodong if he were to fall out of the 64 as he has just £3,000 on the PTC).

Is this likely? As an absolute minimum, Wattana and Wilson would have to win two matches and in all likelihood, probably three which is far from easy. Morris meanwhile is a further 1,000 points back and at first glance would probably have to reach the last 16 stage which with no disrespect intended is unlikely. As a result I therefore think that everyone inside the top six on that PTC list is safe.

Also in Ben’s favour is that ranked 69th on the two-year list, he too has his destiny in his own hands and could move into a top 64 spot himself.

Who looks doomed?

While Kurt Maflin showed last week that anything is possible, for me those ranked 75th or lower will be forced to enter the Q School if they are to remain on the main tour next season. We shall see.


Hopefully that presents a clearer picture as to the state of play and who will be on the tour next season. For what it’s worth I think that it is likely to stay as it is. Saying that though, James Wattana is a player who is better under the long formats and with matches against Justin Astley, Andy Hicks and Jamie Burnett…he could just do it which would be bad news for Igor…