So that is it, we now know exactly who will be at the Masters and the Shootout come January as the first mid-season seedings revision takes place today. Click below for a full round-up of all the key changes to the start of season seedings…
- Click here to view the final standings at the first mid-season seedings revision
- Click here to view the new projected seedings list, looking forward to revision two
The Top 16
After he lost out to Ding Junhui in agonising circumstances last season to narrowly miss out on a spot in the top 16 for the first time in his career, it was always going to be interesting to see how Stuart Bingham would respond to that set-back. As it would transpire he would bounce back in perfect style, coming back from behind to defeat Mark Williams in Australia to take his first ranking event title.
That result together with a consistent accumulation of points from the PTC events staged so far and a last 16 run in Shanghai has easily been enough to lift him to a career-high ranking of 11 at this cut-off. Interestingly with relatively few points to come off his tally between now and May, there is no reason why Stuart cannot make a serious push for the top eight now.
Another player continuing from where he left off last season has been Stephen Lee, the four-time ranking event winner reaching the semi-finals of one PTC event in addition to two quarter-finals, as well as managing to qualify for the venue in Shanghai. As a result he has moved back up into the top 16 for the first time since the 2007/8 season.
Breaking into that bracket and securing the all-important last spot at the Masters for the first time however is Martin Gould, who despite defeat to Liu Chuang at this weekend’s PTC6 event was confirmed as Mark Davis fell the following day to Nigel Bond in the second round. Like Stuart, Martin now has every chance to move further up the rankings if he can maintain his consistent form over the past 18 months or so as he has very few points to come off his tally following a tough first half of the 2009/10 season.
The first player to fall out of the top 16 at this cut-off is Stoke’s Jamie Cope who a last 16 run in Shanghai aside has continued to struggle for results this season and with a significant amount of points coming off from 2009 at this cut-off has paid the price. At 26 he still has more than enough time on his side to turns things around however it has been a couple of seasons now since we saw the level of form that took him to two ranking finals during the 2006/7 season.
Also falling out of the top tier at this cut-off is Peter Ebdon who after an improved 2010/11 campaign, has won just three matches so far this season. As Peter has proven so often throughout his professional career, he can never be written off, but at the age 41 has he got it in him to bounce back into the top 16 again?
The same question applies to Stephen Hendry who having staved off relegation from the top 16 by the skin of his teeth at the end of last season has now finally lost his place among the elite for the first time since he was a teenager, meaning that he must now qualify for the UK Championship and also miss out on competing at the Masters for the first time since 1988.
With a significant amount of points to be deducted from his tally from now until the end of the season, on current form it appears unlikely that we will see the Scot return to the top 16 any time soon and it will be interesting to see how he will adapt to playing in the cubicles in an attempt to qualify for the season’s biggest events.
The first of two men to climb back up into the top 32 is Fergal O’Brien and without question he is deserving of his rise following a consistent start to the 2011/12 season. Appearances at the venue stages of both the Australian and Shanghai Masters tournaments together with a semi-final, a quarter-final and two last 16 runs at the PTC has seen him rise to 28th position and overtake Ken Doherty as Ireland’s number one player.
Tom Ford meanwhile is a player who has consistently been ‘on the bubble’ as far as the top 32 is concerned and at this cut-off has done just enough to secure 31st place following a consistent accumulation of points at the PTC events and qualifying wins at the two full-ranking events staged.
Falling out of the top 32 is firstly China’s Liang Wenbo who has actually enjoyed an improved start to the season, winning matches at four of the six PTC events staged and also successfully qualifying for both of the two full ranking events staged so far. His fall however was almost an inevitable one as having reached the final of the Shanghai Masters in 2009 and also performed well at that year’s Grand Prix, there are only four more players on the tour losing more points at this cut-off than Liang.
For Gerard Greene meanwhile it has been a tough start to the 2011/12 campaign, indeed he has won just four matches so far, all coming in the opening rounds of PTC events. As a result he falls five places to 37th at the cut.
The rise and rise of Jack Lisowski continues as the Grove youngster climbs up into the top 48 for the first time in his career having qualified for the last 32 of the Shanghai Masters and also reached the semi-finals of the PTC5 event in Sheffield. With few points to be deducted between now and the end of the season could Jack claim a place in the top 32 later in the campaign?
Also moving up into the top 48 is veteran Scot Alan McManus courtesy of a steady start to the new season highlighted by a quarter-final run in Sheffield at the PTC3 event and last 32 appearances at the final two events before the cut.
The third man moving up into the top 48 is Leicester’s Joe Jogia who has enjoyed an excellent season so far in the PTC events. His best run came at the season-opening PTC1 event where he was able to make it through to the semi-finals while he has also had two further runs to the last 16 stage.
A year ago Barry Pinches began 2010/11 as one of the tour’s form players but since his victory at that season’s PTC4 event he has found consistent victories harder to come by. Although he was able to perform well in qualifying for both Australia and Shanghai this season, opening round defeats in five of the six PTC events staged so far have seen him slip down to 49th place in the rankngs.
Also falling is Mark Joyce who after an excellent start to the campaign with victory in the Pink Ribbon has not been able to carry that form through to the season’s ranking events, suffering four opening-round defeats in the PTC tournaments.
Finally losing his place among the top 48 is Tony Drago who you may recall began his return to the tour in 2009/10 in fine style with runs to the third round of the season’s opening two events. with those points now being removed from his ranking he needed to start the campaign strongly and with opening-match defeats for Australia and Shanghai it has not quite happened for the Tornado.
The first man to move up into the all-important top 64 and clinch a place at the Shootout is Leicester’s Ben Woollaston, thanks in part to his tremendous victory at the PTC3 event in Sheffield. Other strong runs during PTC’s 4, 5 and 6 as well as the Australian Open have helped to push Ben up to 55th place and closer to a place in the top 48 than to falling off the tour at the season’s end.
Also on the up is Thailand’s James Wattana, thanks largely to a tremendous run to the venue at the Shanghai Masters last month, as well as an appearance at the last 16 of the PTC1 event in Sheffield.
Missing out on the Shootout will be two veterans in the form of Rod Lawler and Ian McCulloch, both of whom have now fallen outside of the top 64 and will face a fight to survive on the main tour at the end of the season.
For Rod his results during the full ranking events over the past couple of years have actually been reasonably strong for his ranking, however a series of tough draws in the PTC events and subsequent defeats have left him perhaps a little lower down the list than he would otherwise be.
Ian meanwhile has been struggling for some time now but there have been signs recently that he is beginning to rediscover his confidence. Consecutive century breaks against Ben Woollaston when on the comeback trail during their Australian Open qualifier followed by an improved run during Shanghai and a last 16 appearance at PTC5 have demonstrated that Ian still has something to offer and it will be interesting to see if he will be able to do enough over the next few months to retain his tour card.