Rankings Watch 2011/12: World Championship Preview – Crucible Update

Further to my previous article prior to the World Championship qualifiers highlighting the various ranking issues in dispute the tour, click below for my Crucible update with the main event set to get underway tomorrow…

  • Click here to view the latest projected seedings
  • Click here to view the points tariffs for the 2011/12 season
  • Click here to view the final PTC Order of Merit
  • Click here to view the qualifying draw for the 2012 World Championship

The 2011/12 end of season rankings will be used to determine the seedings for the first three full-ranking events of 2012/13, namely the Wuxi Classic, the Australian Goldfields Open and the Shanghai Masters, as well as the first two PTC events of the season and the 6-Red World Championship.

Battle for No.1

Following Judd Trump’s quarter-final defeat to Stephen Lee in Bejing, this particular end of season battle is simple. Mark Selby is now assured of finishing the 2011/12 campaign as world number one, unless Judd Trump can win the World Championship, with Selby losing in the opening round.

If Selby is able to reach the last 16, he will be assured of retaining his top ranking regardless of what anyone else can do.

The Top Eight

While it is harder to be too in-depth about this bracket with the sheer amount of points available to play for in Sheffield, what can be said is that nobody currently lower than 12th placed Matthew Stevens can mathematically finish inside the top eight after the World Championship.

Defending Points – Neil Robertson

Stevens would need to at least win the title if he is to stand any chance, while Graeme Dott and Mark Allen would need to make the final.

Somewhat bizarrely, a run to the quarter-finals from Ding Junhui would see him finish the season level on points with current eighth placed man Neil Robertson, if the latter were to lose his opening round match for the second successive year. If that were to happen though, Neil would hang on to his place due to having gained more points during this season.

The Top 16

Following Ricky Walden’s defeat in qualifying, as well as the placement of the qualifiers into the main draw, Matthew Stevens and Martin Gould are both now mathematically safe. For example while in theory those as low as Peter Ebdon in 19th place could pass Gould, the fact that Ebdon and O’Sullivan will meet in the first round, while Andrew Higginson and Mark Davis would meet in the quarter-finals, means that there are not enough players able to push the Pinner Potter out of the top 16.

What of Walden following his defeat to Jamie Jones? While it is not inconceivable that he will slip down to 16th in the projected seedings after the first week or so, a last 16 run from Stuart Bingham and a quarter-final from Ronnie O’Sullivan enough to do so, it remains likely that the former Shanghai Masters champion will secure a return to the world’s elite come May.

Andrew Higginson – Can he shock Sheffield?

For this not to happen, in addition to those runs for Stuart and Ronnie, either Andrew Higginson would need to reach the final, or Mark Davis, Dominic Dale or Ali Carter would need to win the title. Peter Ebdon could also pip Ricky with a second world title, but this would of course be at the expense of first-round opponent O’Sullivan.

Again for Stuart Bingham it would be a similar story with him remaining safe, unless two from Ronnie O’Sullivan winning his first match, Andrew Higginson, Mark Davis or Ali Carter reaching the final, or Peter Ebdon winning the title happens.

Finally, it would take at least a semi-final run from either Andrew Higginson or Mark Davis to displace Ronnie O’Sullivan in 16th should he lose his opener, while a round one victory for the Essex Exocet would leave Davis needing a final. Again the likes of Peter Ebdon and Ali Carter could also come into play if they can make it through to the final weekend.

For Carter, he requires at least a semi-final run if he is to stand any chance of retaining his top 16 status at the end of the season.

The Top 32

Following the qualifiers, the battle for final few top 32 spots has become far clearer, with the likes of Michael Holt, Fergal O’Brien and Robert Milkins falling by the wayside following their defeats at the EIS a week ago.

At present there are just two players who could feasibly move up into this bracket, the first being Ireland’s Ken Doherty who with victory against Neil Robertson would move up five places to 30th in the latest projected seedings, pushing Ryan Day out of the top 32, though Ryan too remains in the draw and able to move above Jamie Jones with a win at the Crucible.

The other player who could change things is Liang Wenbo, though the Chinese number two would require at least a run to the semi-finals if he is to leave either Jones or Day needing a result.

The Top 48

The race for the final top 48 positions appears to be all but run, unless Liu Chuang is able to win two matches at the Crucible and move up to 48th place at the expense of Dave Harold. Alternatively, David Gilbert would do the same with a run to the semi-finals.

Liu Chuang – Dark horse?

Both drawn inside the same quarter however, it will not be possible for both to move up into the top 48, meaning that Joe Jogia is guaranteed to remain among that bracket come the season’s end.

The Top 64

  • Click here to read how the battle for tour survival appears to have concluded following the World Championship qualifiers.

The current top 64 will not change, unless either Cao Yupeng can reach the quarter-finals, or Belgian sensation Luca Brecel can make it through to the semi-finals. If either of these results do happen, then this would be at the expense of Barry Pinches, who would then lose his place on the main tour as a result.

In the unlikely even that both Cao and Luca can achieve these results, then James Wattana would also lose his tour place for 2012/13.