The first ranking event of the new snooker season has concluded, but there hasn’t been much movement in the world rankings.
The 2023/24 campaign launched with a whimper rather than a bang and a laborious four-week edition of Championship League Snooker.
Played behind closed doors and with one of the smaller prize funds on the snooker calendar, it didn’t have a huge impact on the official two-year rankings.
The Championship League incorporates a league format for the majority of the competition and then a sprint best-of-five frame final, providing opportunities for some lower-ranked competitors to contest the latter stages.
The likes of Chris Wakelin, Noppon Saengkham, Cao Yupeng, Xiao Guodong, and Sam Craigie all reached the last eight in Leicester.
But despite all that, the title-deciding encounter ultimately proved to be an affair between a couple of proven champions.
Shaun Murphy overcame Mark Williams 3-0 at the Morningside Arena on Friday evening to land a 12th career ranking success and a third from this calendar year alone.
Official World Snooker Tour rankings
Despite having withdrawn from the event, Ronnie O’Sullivan maintains his status as the world number one in the snooker rankings.
O’Sullivan boasts a small advantage over world champion Luca Brecel in second and Mark Allen in third.
The latter pair will likely challenge for top spot at various stages later this season, so that will be an ongoing plot line to keep an eye on.
Murphy, who remains in seventh after earning £33,000 for his triumph, also has aspirations of challenging for the number one position.
The 40 year-old is still more than £400,000 shy of O’Sullivan’s target, but Murphy has hardly any points to defend this season and will reduce the gap quickly should he manage to sustain this level of form.
The remaining positions in the top eight are as they were following the World Championship, with Judd Trump in fourth, Mark Selby in fifth, Neil Robertson in sixth, and Kyren Wilson in eighth.
Williams leapfrogs old rival John Higgins into ninth after reaching the Championship League final, from which he pocketed £23,000.
A little further down, Iran’s Hossein Vafaei has joined the top 16 for the first time in his career.
David Gilbert, who was defending the points he garnered from his Championship League Snooker success in 2021, drops three places to number 23.
The biggest mover is Craigie, whose reward for reaching Stage Three of the tournament is a six-place jump from 51 to 45 in the pecking order.
Murphy, meanwhile, takes an early lead in the BetVictor Series race.
The money leader after the eight counting events this season will again receive a bumper bonus worth £150,000.
The series will include the four BetVictor Home Nations Series events, the German Masters, the European Masters, and the Shoot Out in addition to the already completed Championship League.
Last season, Robert Milkins secured a memorable triumph in the Welsh Open to finish on top of the BetVictor Series standings.
What is the next snooker event?
The next ranking event in the 2023/24 snooker season will be the European Masters in Germany, taking place next month from August 22 to 27.
There will be qualifying for that tournament next week at the Morningside Arena (July 25 to 29).
Featured photo credit: WST