A look ahead to the 2009/10 season…

As the end of the current season draws near, it is time to look ahead to the 2009/10 season and identify just how the 96 main professional tour will be put together…

Over the years the composition of the professional snooker circuit has changed a few times but recently a consistent system has developed. Hopefully this guide will be useful for those less familiar with just how exactly the 96 professionals next season will have earned their places on the tour. Thanks to Janie Watkins from the Global Snooker Centre for her assistance with this.

Also I am hoping to write a piece before the World Championship qualifiers detailing what each player has to do at the EISS to stay on the main tour and assessing the prospects of each player so keep an eye out for that.

The Top 64


Ever heard anyone mention the ‘all-important top 64’ before? Well this is why because the top 64 in the two year rankings at the end of the 2008/9 season will automatically retain their place for the following year. As a result it is so important for those currently on the tour to try and get within that bracket and it also ensures that those lower down the rankings have something to play for throughout the season, particularly with the World Championship carrying double points.

You can view the very latest two year rankings here and see who is currently in position to stay within that elite group.

The Top Eight (one-year list)

So what if a player ends the season outside of the top 64? Well all is not quite lost because there are another eight places available for those currently on the tour. These will be given to the top eight performers on the one-year list for 2008/9 who have not already secured a place via the top 64.

This is a good idea I think because it rewards those players who may not have quite done enough over the two years, but have actually had a strong 2008/9 season. It also provides newcomers to the tour (who start off with a minimum amount of starter points), with their best opportunity to stay on the tour for a second successive year.

A good example of a player who looks likely to benefit from this is that of Li Hang who despite lying down outside of the top 64 in 70th position at the time of writing, has actually had a fantastic season for a tour newcomer. He is clearly within the top eight players on the one-year list not already in the top 64 and barring something very strange happening between now and the end of the season should retain his tour place. Atthasit Mahitti is another good example.

You can view the very latest one year rankings here.

Pontin’s International Open Series (PIOS) Top Eight (2008/9)

So having seen that at least 72 of the 96 players currently on the circuit will retain their place for next season, where do the other 24 come from? Well eight of them will come from the secondary tour, or as it is more commonly known as, the PIOS.

Yes the top eight in the PIOS rankings after the season’s eight events will be promoted to the main tour. At the time of writing five events have been completed with the remaining three due to be completed in early May.

To view the current standings, please click here.

International Nominations

That leaves 16 places up for grabs and this is where it gets interesting as nine of these places are made up of international nominations. Here are exactly where they come from:

2008 IBSF World Amateur Champion

The first international nomination goes to the winner of the World Amateur Championship during the previous season. As the 2008 Championship has already been held we already know that Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh is the champion and as such will be on the tour next season. Click here to remind yourself of how he did it.

2008 IBSF World Under 21 Champion

Normally another place would go to the winner of the World Under-21 Championship, but for one reason or another the Championship was not held last year. The event was originally scheduled to be held in France but as explained on the IBSF website, was postponed and has not been re-arranged since.

As a result it is likely that instead the tour place available here will now become a World Snooker wildcard.

2009 EBSA European Under 19 Champion:

The next spot will be taken by the winner of the 2009 European Under-19 Championship. This tournament will be held between the 21st-26th March this year and will be held in St Petersburg, Russia.

2009 EBSA European Champion:

The fourth international spot goes to the winner of the European Championship during the previous season. This year the tournament will be staged in Belgium from the 1st-13th June.

2009 EBSA European Play Off Winner:

The third and final European nomination goes to the winner of the European Play Off. This event takes place alongside the European Championship and is open to all European nations aside from the UK and Ireland who already receive places from the WSA.

2009 ACBS Asian Under 21 Champion:

Another spot will go to the winner of the 2009 Asian Under-21 Championship. This will be held between the 11th-19th April in India.

2009 ACBS Asian Champion:

As well as the under-21 winner, another place will also go to the winner of the senior event which will be staged in China this May. Hopefully we will have more information on the dates in the near future.

2009 ACBS Asian Nomination:

Finally from Asia there will be a third spot available via the Asian Nomination. Last year this went to Aditya Mehta who finished as runner-up in both the Asian Championship and the Indian National Championship.

2009 Oceania Champion:

Finally there is a spot available for the winner of the 2009 Oceania Championship. This tournament will be staged between the 23rd-28th March

National Nominations (Great Britain)

So then, after the international nominations that leaves seven more places to fill and six of the will be national nominations from Great Britain. The places will be allocated as follows:

  • England – Two places
  • Scotland – One place
  • Wales – One place
  • Northern Ireland – One place
  • Ireland – One place

In all likelihood the successful nomination will either have finished top of the national rankings for the previous year, or have won their national championship during the same period. Hopefully as the season draws to a close then it will become clear as to who has been selected.

World Snooker Wildcard

Finally the last remaining will place will be filled by a wildcard as selected by World Snooker. This may be given to a high profile player who has fallen off the tour, a young and highly promising player or anyone else. Last year the successful wildcard was Liu Chuang who impressed by qualifying for the final stages of the World Championship, becoming one of the youngest ever players to do so.

As stated previously it looks like there will be two wildcards for 2009/10 owing to the non-staging of the 2008 World U-21 Championship.

So that is it, if everything goes according to plan that is where the 96 players who will make up the 2009/10 main tour will come from. Stay tuned to this site for updates as and when more players are confirmed.