Ronnie O’Sullivan is chasing down the top spot in the official snooker rankings and could reclaim the number one position after the Players Championship in February.
Mark Selby and Judd Trump have been embroiled in a battle at the summit for most of this season but both have suffered dips in form recently.
Indeed, having begun this season in the number one spot, Trump has now fallen to third behind O’Sullivan after failing to successfully defend the recent German Masters in Berlin.
There is not a lot separating the top three on the rolling two-year snooker rankings, but it’s O’Sullivan who is in prime position to leapfrog Selby with a strong run in Wolverhampton.
The Rocket triumphed in the World Grand Prix in December, ending a miserable sequence in ranking event finals in which he had lost the previous five he had contested.
With Selby not in the Players Championship lineup as things stand, O’Sullivan could become world number one for the first time since 2019 with victory in what will be the second tournament on the Cazoo Series.
The Jester is in 17th place on the one-year rankings that are based on this season’s performances and will have to rely on a withdrawal in order to make the 16-player field.
Intriguingly, the seeding system in operation for the Players Championship means O’Sullivan and Trump will encounter each other in a fascinating first-round clash.
Even if Trump were to defeat the six-time world champion and proceed to lift the title himself, the 32 year-old would fall £5,000 short of Selby’s total.
Meanwhile, China’s Zhao Xintong, a resounding champion at the Tempodrom on Sunday, is the Players Championship top seed after tallying a season’s best £291,000 that has additionally elevated him to a career-high eighth on the official rankings.
Despite the 24 year-old’s German Masters glory, Mark Allen is actually the player who moves into pole position on the separate European Series rankings, following the fifth event out of eight.
The competitor who earns the most money at the end of the series that is sponsored by BetVictor will receive a jackpot bonus worth £150,000.
Featured photo credit: WST