Ronnie O’Sullivan won’t feature in next week’s Tour Championship at the Bonus Arena in Hull and could lose his world number one spot as a result.
The reigning world champion has endured a disappointing season by his high standards, especially in ranking tournaments where he has failed to go beyond the quarter-final stage.
After withdrawing from the recent WST Classic with a reported elbow injury, the Rocket relinquished his last remaining opportunity of gaining an invite to the lucrative Tour Championship.
Only the top eight competitors on the one-year ranking list qualify for what has become one of the most prestigious events on the calendar in recent seasons.
O’Sullivan, who won the event in 2019 and was a runner-up again two years later, was way off the pace this term and will have to sit on the sidelines with his coveted world number one spot in jeopardy.
Both Mark Selby and Mark Allen could snatch the leading position in the official two-year rankings with strong performances next week in what is the penultimate ranking event of the campaign.
Following his success in the WST Classic on Wednesday, Selby has bolstered his current ranking of number two in the world.
But the Jester would return to the summit for the first time since April last year if he were to land successive titles on the schedule and lift the Tour Championship trophy for the first time.
A runner-up finish, carrying a prize worth £60,000, may even be enough depending on how Northern Ireland’s Allen gets on.
The Pistol is third in the world rankings but is on target to reach number one for the first time in his career following a season in which he has already landed a hat-trick of titles.
Allen would fulfill what must be one of his lifelong dreams by pocketing the £150,000 top prize that’s on offer for winning the Tour Championship in 2023.
Meanwhile, there is another interesting scrap taking place a little further down the pecking order as a cluster of players scramble for Crucible spots.
Members of the top 16 will of course gain automatic qualification for the upcoming World Snooker Championship in April.
Zhao Xintong is currently ranked ninth in the world but will not feature in Sheffield this year due to his suspension.
That elevates Ryan Day into 16th with a small buffer of just £17,000 to Ding Junhui in 17th, and both players will participate in the Tour Championship as well.
Gary Wilson is just in front of the pair in 15th place, but the Englishman’s 5-4 loss in the semi-finals of the WST Classic has put him in a precarious position.
Having just missed out on a Tour Championship ticket, the Scottish Open champion will have to rely on results involving Day and Ding going his way in Hull.
The Tour Championship starts on Monday, March 27th and runs until Sunday, April 2nd.
Tour Championship Draw
Mark Allen vs Ding Junhui
Ali Carter vs Kyren Wilson
Mark Selby vs Ryan Day
Shaun Murphy vs Robert Milkins
Featured photo credit: WST
PLEASE stop calling him Selby “the Jester”. Not only has the man himself said he doesn’t like it in an interview, but considering his fight with depression, it’s actually cruel. Use “the Granite”, “Iron man” or a number of other names used through the years to a lesser extent – just because they don’t rhyme with Leicester (!?) I really think someone that decides this should take better care of it.
Where has Selby said he doesn’t like the Jester nickname?
O’Sullivan has underperformed in ranking events but let’s not forget he’s won two big invitation titles this season.