How does the snooker ranking system work?

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I’m sure there’s at least one person that still isn’t entirely sure on how the ranking system works in snooker. To be honest, I thought I had a pretty reasonable idea until I actually researched it. Unlike the sources I used to investigate this, I’ll try and keep this inaugural post simple and easy to follow.

As I’m sure most already know, the ranking system revolves around prize money won in ranking events. So, for example, Ronnie O’Sullivan winning the Players Championship 2019 and claiming the winnings of £100,000 meant that he gained 100,000 ranking points. Obviously, this doesn’t include non-ranking events such as the Masters; nor does it include high break prizes.

The main thing to understand is that ranking ‘points’ incorporate prize winnings from the previous 2 years. In other words, it uses a format where the currently played tournament will replace the points/money earned from the same tournament 2 years ago.

So anytime you see that world rankings list showing all the money that the top players have earned (therefore, giving them their ranking), it comprises their winnings for 2 years earlier as well. Mark Selby’s strong performance from 2014-17 (particularly at the World Championship) is why he is still World No. 1 considering he hasn’t had the best performance the past couple of seasons.

Let’s take a hypothetical to try and make it a bit easier to understand. Mark Selby won the WSC in 2017 which earned him £375,000. The WSC 2019 is coming up (at the time of writing). Let’s assume that first prize is the same at £375,000. If Mark wins this year then the £375,000 he will win will replace the 375 he won in 2017 (his ranking will not change). If he did anything else besides win then his ranking points will go down. If he got kicked out in the second round which only won him £32,000, then the £375,000 from 2017 will get removed from the current rankings and he will only get £32,000 added to his ranking. Simple, right?

Did this help you to understand the snooker ranking system? Yes? No? Well, it was worth a shot.