Rankings Watch: Welsh Open Update

With just two events left to go this season, the race for ranking points is really hotting up. Click below to see how Ali Carter’s Welsh Open victory has affected things…

Where else to start but with the man of the moment Ali Carter who following victory last night has moved up to a career-high position of number three in the latest provisional rankings. On the face of it this might seem surprising but with one title and three previous semi-finals this season, as well as last season’s World Championship final, he has been as consistent as anyone and fully deserves it. Over 5,000 points behind Stephen Maguire and over 10,000 behind Ronnie O’Sullivan however, it will take something special to catch those two before the end of this campaign. This is not true of the one-year list however as his consistency has seen him move above the likes of O’Sullivan and into top spot which just shows you how well he has done.

As for runner-up Joe Swail, he might not have taken the title but the 4,000 points in the bag for reaching the final have lifted him up eight places to 20th. This is a significant turnaround because having started the season with four first-round defeats he was facing the prospect of falling out of the world’s top 32 which could have signalled the beginning of the end for him. With the chance to gain further points during the China Open and the World Championship, it would take something extraordinary to happen between now and the end of the season for him to slip out of this bracket now.

Similarly Anthony Hamilton who reached the semi-final has also given his top 32 hopes a boost, moving up six places to 31st and also up to 24th in the one-years. Having already qualified for China and looking to have rediscovered some of his best form since the turn of the year, hopefully from his point of view he will be able to push on and qualify for the World Championship once again.

Aside from Ali’s move up to number three, little has changed elsewhere in the top 10 with Marco Fu moving up a spot and Neil Robertson’s run to the semis pushing him up to 10th. Despite this run from Neil though it is still very much the case that the top 9 are well clear of the rest and there are two distinct tiers to the top 16.

While Neil looks to be just about clear, I would suggest that from Mark Allen downwards, nobody can sure of staying in the elite group for another season and this includes the seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry whose disastrous season shows no sign of improving. Another first-round defeat, this time to Martin Gould means that he as still won just four matches this season and might just see his unbroken 22 year run at the top come to an end in May. Even if he can pull something out of the bag and hang on for another year, lying down in 25th place in the one-year rankings as he currently is, he’ll have some work to do next season.

Things are even worse though for Peter Ebdon who having fallen down to 17th is also struggling to win a match at the moment. With fewer points to back him up from last season than Hendry I’m not sure where he is going to pick up the wins from if he is to hold off the challenge of players like Dave Harold and Barry Hawkins who are looking capable of at least qualifying for the World Championship and putting a few more points on the board.

Aside from the more obvious issues in the rankings, what else is worth mentioning? Well the situation of young Judd Trump is quite interesting as his first opening round exit of the season to Barry Pinches in the Welsh Open qualifiers has left his top 32 place in the balance. He does have however have more points to come from the China Open which he has qualified for and I would also expect him to win at least one round during qualifying for the World Championship so he should just about be ok. The top 16 on the other hand looks to be just a bit too optimistic at the moment, though sitting in 18th place on the one-year list he looks good to make that step up next season.

Also, a word on a man who has all too often been on this page with reference to his fall down the rankings, but right now is just beginning to show signs of a return to form. While it has come all too late as far as retaining a place in the top 16 is concerned, Graeme looks to have every chance of clinging on to a spot in the top 32. Indeed thanks to his win over Mike Dunn last week, he is up to 36th in the provisional rankings and barely 1,500 behind 32nd ranked Ian McCulloch.

To view the latest rankings in full, including minimum points earned for both the China Open and the World Championship, please click here.