What is Snookers One-Year Ranking and Provisional Seedings List? (PART 1)

41.jpg

The first post on this website looked at how the snooker ranking system worked. Click here to read the original post. This will look more specifically at the One-Year ranking list and Provisional Seedings (Part 2) and how they are used for upcoming tournaments.

The One-Year list looks at the ranking position of each player based on their performance in the current season only. The official world rankings incorporate the accumulation of the previous 2 years’ worth of ranking points on a rolling basis whilst the One-Year list excludes these previous amounts. Again, this is on a ranking basis, so O’Sullivan’s £200,000 win at Shanghai will contribute nothing to this list. On the other hand, Yan Bingtao’s win at the Riga Masters has positioned himself nicely at No. 3 on the One-Year rankings.

Certain tournaments, namely the Coral Cup events have a structure where those who are qualified to enter are selected based on how much ranking prize money they have earned in the 2019/20 season. Given that each of these events are positioned in the latter half of the season provide enough time and opportunity for players to build up their ranking points to qualify for these events.

Considering most ranking and invitational events use the rolling system and provisional seeding method, the Coral Cup seems to be the only set of tournaments that strictly look at a single season’s performance, without taking into account past seasons. Another unique quality that makes it among my favourite events besides Triple Crown. It brings the season’s best performers together.

For example, let’s look at the One-Year list as it stands and take John Higgins who is positioned 16th (at the time) with £13500 thanks to his Last 16 venture in the International Championship. This is the only ranking event he has competed in until the China Championship. If Higgins were to make it to the semis of the tournament, it would pretty much guarantee a Top 5 position in the One-Year list with the additional £32000 added to his tally. If he made the finals, or even won; significantly better for his One-Year position. The only person really safe in these rankings at the moment is Trump with his International Championship win.

This was the simple part. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this Short which will look at the explanation of Provisional Seedings and how they are used in the context of world rankings.

Helpful links:

One-Year Ranking List: http://www.worldsnooker.com/rankings/1-year-ranking-list/

History of the China Championship

40.jpg

It’s a relatively new tournament with £150,000 going to the winner. Played over the course of a few best-of-9’s, a best-of-11 in the semis and a standard best-of-19 in the final; can defending champion Mark Selby retain his China Championship trophy and also win his first ranking title since this event last year?

Based in Guangzhou (Southern China), the China Championship came to surface in 2016 as an invitational event with a £200,000 top prize however, it was always the intention to carry it forward as a ranking event. Built on the growing partnership between World Snooker and China, this tournament was also likely introduced to schedule closely with other events held in Asia to minimise long distance back-and-forth travel for the players.

The event received a small amount of backlash for the decision to convert it to a ranking tournament. A lot were pleased that there was an equivalent to the Masters held in China in terms of exclusivity and how lucrative it was. The tournament in its first iteration provided the most prize money for any event outside of the UK. Many were concerned that its change to ranking status involving a similar qualifying and durational format would make it too similar to other ranking events.

When the first China Championship was taking place, the players competing would consist of the Top 10 players based off general rankings and the Top 4 players outside this on the one-year ranking list. The last two were chosen by the CBSA (Chinese Billiards and Snooker Association). In this instance, they selected Marco Fu and Liang Wenbo.

Regardless, the prize money involved (which is the same as a Coral Cup event) hasn’t discouraged participation among the top players. Higgins pocketed the top prize in the inaugural edition, while Brecel won his first ranking tournament in the following year’s China Championship. The 2018 championship saw its closest match as Selby edged out Higgins in a final frame decider, pushing the finish after midnight.

It’s easy to predict one of the usual suspects taking it home this year but similar to other tournaments, players have to go through a qualifying match in order to make the main-64 draw. And this is where we sometimes see top seeds not making it through. Players like Bingham, Wenbo, Carter and Wilson are among those this year that didn’t get through qualifying stages. Nevertheless, this is something that is to be expected with the way events are structured nowadays.

What do you think of the China Championship? Which opening matches are you looking forward to? I think Fu vs Gilbert and Un-Nooh vs Yuelong will be stellar matches!

Shanghai Masters Final 2019 – Shorts Thoughts

39.jpg

It was a similar contest to last year’s final, both in the score line and the way it played out. In one corner, we have the defending champion who also happens to be competing in his first tournament of the season; and in the other corner we have a player who has already been in one ranking final and has stormed his way to the closing match of the Shanghai Masters.

Murphy took the opening three frames of the bout which included breaks of 43, 62 and 68. The surprising element of these frames was that O’Sullivan was in with opportunities first but missed reds to leave his opponent to take the frames. Straight from the offset, Murphy was displaying his supreme long potting ability.

Most viewers (and probably Murphy himself) probably didn’t expect this kind of start to the match. When it seemed that that Murphy was going to take a 4-0 lead going into the mid-session interval, he broke down on 43 by playing a loose positional shot from the blue. After laying a tight snooker behind the green, O’Sullivan was able to steal the fourth frame.

The next three frames were taken by O’Sullivan – meaning he overturned his 3-0 deficit to take the next four frames in a row. Frames 5 and 6 produced chances for Murphy to steal as O’Sullivan did not make any frame winning contributions, but it was not to be in those frames. The match was 5-5 going into the evening’s session although Murphy probably should have cleared the table in the last frame to secure a lead.

An unfortunate miscue on the blue in Frame 12 meant the first two frames of the evening were shared between the players. The entire match displayed this kind of close competition throughout. There’s always a high level of enjoyment watching O’Sullivan and Murphy play against each other. Anyway, I digress.

The first century wasn’t seen until Frame 13 where Murphy made 111. This should have given Murphy the confidence to continue and pull ahead but a poor break off allowed O’Sullivan to respond with a break of 130.

Breaks of 51, 32, 45 and 29 helped O’Sullivan clinch the next two frames. He was also aided by an incredulous fluke in Frame 15. O’Sullivan was now pulling away for the first time in the match. This was followed by his second century of the match in the next frame (124). The score was now 10-7.

Murphy wasn’t done though – breaks of 82 and 90 helped him take the next two frames. He was trying to force a decider in Frame 20 but broke down on a break of 29. O’Sullivan then finished the match with 86 to secure the turkey of Shanghai Masters trophies.

What I really enjoyed about this match (besides how close it was) was that neither player was afraid to play aggressively and go for the long pots. I think because each player understand their opponents style (considering all the finals they contested in the past few years), they were embracing the chances to go for the longer pots.

Where most players would wait for their opponents to make a mistake and leave them in among the balls, Murphy would create his chances from his confident, yet lethal long potting. There wasn’t a lot of one-visit snooker that would have been expected with this kind of match-up but there was a constant back and forth which kept tensions and excitement high. It was easy to forget that O’Sullivan was 3-0 down in the beginning.

As always though, there was good camaraderie between O’Sullivan and Murphy throughout and at the end of the match. They put on a great contest for the Shanghai audience and those watching from all over and it probably won’t be the last time they meet each other in a final.

O’Sullivan vs Wilson Shanghai Masters QF 2019 – Shorts Thoughts

38.jpg

This was an interesting match, to say the least. Mostly because it probably didn’t go in a way that people would have thought a match like this should have played out. Nevertheless, Snooker and its players continue to surprise all with a quarter-final match which perhaps saw an unexpected result for most.

The opening frame of O’Sullivan vs Wilson was scrappy, but ultimately favoured in Wilson’s way. An impressive opening red from Wilson showed a tease of the performance that could be expected from The Warrior but unfortunately a few misses from both players led to a safety exchange where O’Sullivan pushed a red into open play, allowing Wilson to take frame 1.

Wilson took advantage of O’Sullivan’s loose safety play and cleared frame 2 with 131. Although, a near miss from Wilson in frame 3 gave O’Sullivan the opportunity to get his first frame on the board. This was a break O’Sullivan should have cleared up but missed a relatively easy pink. Luckily for him, it didn’t affect the outcome of the frame.

Frames 4-6 were all Wilson. No centuries, but Wilson did well enough with 2 breaks over 50 in these frames. O’Sullivan had chances in all frames to win himself but his loose safety and his unexpected long potting performance hadn’t seemed to be out of his system just yet. That makes it 5-1 to Wilson; requiring one more frame and the momentum is with him.

Something must have clicked. O’Sullivan took frame 7 with a break of 107. But for most, the turning point was in frame 8 where Wilson made a break of 36, then went 49 points up. O’Sullivan took advantage of a free ball however, later he fluked one of the reds into the bottom left corner which helped him convert the frame.

This was seen as O’Sullivan’s saving grace because if that red didn’t go in then Wilson would have seen the match off. Some also said that the fluke was fair since Wilson fluked a snooker escape behind the pink a few shots before O’Sullivan where he didn’t hit the intended ball – this was further indicated by Wilson holding his hand up in apology.

Then O’Sullivan must have found second gear. Despite Wilson being in first, he cleared the next frame with 124. This led to frame 10 consisting of a terrific opening red by O’Sullivan. He broke down on a break of 69 and Wilson almost clawed his way back into the frame. However, nerves must have started to get the better of Wilson at this point as he was not able to convert the frame to secure victory. The match was now level.

In the decider, there were a couple of missed opportunities by both players but a wonderful split into the pack by O’Sullivan led to a break of 60 by The Rocket. Similarly to last frame, O’Sullivan should have continued to close out the match but surprisingly potted the black and the cue ball followed the colour into the pocket. This gave Wilson one last opportunity to win the frame and match but due to a missed black, the match was then closed out by O’Sullivan.

What I liked about this match was the mirroring effect that was playing out during the course of the game. Initially, it was all Wilson; capitalising off of O’Sullivan’s weaker long potting and safety shots. Later on in the match, it was O’Sullivan doing just that to Wilson.

Both players had plenty of opportunities in almost every frame to secure victory and both will look back on this match as games they should have performed better in. O’Sullivan should have done better in frame 4 to get snookers and in frame 5 when it went to the final black. Conversely, Wilson should have done better killing off the match, even after O’Sullivan’s fluke in frame 8. All in all, what a spectacle for the viewers in the Shanghai Masters audience.