Fight For the 96: 2011/12

Normally this post is something of a cut and paste job as I seek to explain how next season’s 96 man main tour will be made up. This time around though, things are a little different thanks to the changes implemented by the governing body.

No more PIOS, bring on the Q School…

The Top 64

Ok so this bit hasn’t changed. Ever heard anyone mention the ‘all-important top 64’ before? Well this is because the top 64 in the two year rankings at the end of the season will automatically retain their main tour place for the following campaign.

As a result therefore it is hugely important for those currently on the tour to try and finish in that group and those inside it also have the benefit of not having to start each tournament from the very first round, unlike the remaining 32 players. Furthermore it also ensures that those lower down the rankings have something to play for throughout the season, particularly with the year-ending World Championship carrying extra points.

You can view the very latest two year rankings here and see who is currently well placed to finish inside the top 64.

The Top Eight (PTC Order of Merit)

Liam Highfield – safe

So what if a player ends the season outside of the top 64? What used to happen is that the top eight performers on the one-year list would be given a lifeline, ensuring that those new to the tour at least had a fighting chance of survival.

It is all change for 2011 however as this time around it will be the top eight performers on the PTC Order of Merit not already ranked inside of the top 64 on the two-year list who will survive.

So for 2011/12 what does this mean in practical terms?

At present, the players highlighted in yellow on my latest projected seedings list will retain their tour places via this route, although these are not yet set in stone. For example, should a player such as David Morris with few PTC points go on a run between now and May, moving into the top 64, this would likely be at the expense of a player such as Xiao Guodong who has enough points to survive anyway via the PTC avenue. This would though mean that Igor Figueiredo would miss out.

I shall keep you posted on this and the exact position following the China Open qualifiers.

Q School – 12 Places

So the PIOS is no more, replaced now by the all-new Q School which will see twelve places up for grabs during May 2011.

For more information on the event please view my previous post here, although to summarise, there will be three events, the semi-finalists of each earning a place on the main tour for next season. Importantly, players falling off this tour this year can enter, ensuring an immediate ‘return’ to the professional circuit.

Will they be the ones in pole position having had more recent competitive action or will we see veterans such as Mike Hallett and Darren Morgan make a run? It will be interesting to find out…

International Nominations

That leaves 12 places up for grabs, all of which will be made up of international nominations. According to the information currently displayed on, these will be allocated as follows:

  • 2010 IBSF World Champion – Dechawat Poomjaeng
  • 2010 IBSF World Under-21 Champion – Sam Craigie
  • Europe – two nominations – Kacper Filipak (2011 European U21 Champion),
  • England – one nomination
  • Northern Ireland – one nomination
  • Republic of Ireland – one nomination
  • Asia – three nominations
  • Scotland – one nomination
  • Wales – one nomination

In previous seasons, the nominations from Europe have come from the European Championship, the European Under-19 Championship and the European Play-Offs and so three into two does not go. With the Play-Offs and the main European Championships set to be held in Romania during May-June 2011, it would appear as though these will be where the tour spots will be allocated, although I have not seen clarification of that.

Thanks to Janie below for clarifying the situation, confirming that:

“The 2 European places will go to the European Under 21 champion (Malta end March) and the European champion (Bulgaria early June)”

Similarly, the Asian spots have previously gone to the winner of the Asian Championship, the Asian U-21 Championship and a further third nomination. With three spots up for grabs, I expect that there will be no change here.

Finally, the remaining five spots will go to Great Britain, with England notably receiving one less than in the past.

Who else misses out? The Oceania nomination is no more, though with few winners actually taking this up recently that comes as no surprise. There is also no space for a wildcard player, although should more than one of the above spots be taken by the same player, there would be scope for World Snooker to nominate a player at their discretion.

Stay tuned as after the China Open I will post in depth as to who has to do what in order to make sure of their place…