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Snooker rankings: the battle for world number one

There is a fascinating battle at the top of the rankings as the 2024 Cazoo World Snooker Championship commenced on Saturday in Sheffield.

Amazingly, eight players could still finish the 2023/24 season as the sport’s world number one.

While Ronnie O’Sullivan currently holds onto the position on the official list, it’s actually Mark Allen who is leading the race in the provisional standings.

O’Sullivan has held the top spot for more than two years, his longest ever unbroken stint at the forefront of the snooker rankings.

But under the rolling two-year list, the Rocket’s substantial prize money of £500,000 for winning the 2022 World Snooker Championship crown is to be deducted from his tally.

That drops the 48 year-old to fifth in the provisional standings ahead of his first-round encounter with Jackson Page at the Crucible Theatre this year.

With huge rewards on offer in Sheffield, though, there are several permutations that could see Allen, O’Sullivan, or six other hopefuls end the campaign as the number one.

It’s still mathematically possible for Judd Trump, Luca Brecel, Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, Ding Junhui, and Mark Williams to leapfrog their way into first position as well.

Let’s see what’s required for each player.

Mark Allen

Having already accumulated £935,000 ahead of the World Championship, Allen is well placed to become world number one for the first time in his career.

A maiden world title would obviously seal that achievement in style, but there are many other possible ways he could conclude this term on top.

If Allen reaches the final, he’ll end the season as the world number one unless Trump is the player to beat him.

Losing in the earlier rounds would require some help from his competitors.

But the Northern Irishman, who has won two ranking titles this season, knows that if he at least matches Trump’s run in Sheffield, he’ll stand a very good chance.

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Judd Trump

Trump, a five-time ranking champion this season, last held the number one position in the snooker rankings in November, 2021.

Trump trails Allen by £74,000 on the provisional two-year list, so he definitely requires at least a run to the semi-finals, which carries a prize of £100,000.

From that point onwards, if he goes further than Allen in the competition he’d more than likely reclaim the world number one status.

The only exceptions to that would be if he lost to either Luca Brecel or Mark Selby in the final.


Provisional end-of-season rankings

Prov. RankPlayerProv. Points
1Mark Allen£935,000
2Judd Trump£861,000
3Luca Brecel£690,500
4Mark Selby£648,500
5Ronnie O’Sullivan£609,000
6Shaun Murphy£468,000
7Ding Junhui£466,500
8Mark Williams£457,500
Provisional standings correct as of April 20th, 2024.

Luca Brecel and Mark Selby

Luca Brecel and Mark Selby contested a memorable World Championship final in 2023, but a repeat won’t be possible this year as they are in the same half of the draw.

While Brecel will be attempting to break the “Curse of the Crucible” whereby no first-time champion has successfully returned to defend the title, Selby is again bidding for a fifth world crown.

A triumph for either Brecel or Selby in the 2024 World Championship would see them end this season as the world number one.

For Brecel, it would be the first time in his career, whereas Selby has already spent almost 2,500 days as the sport’s top-ranked cueist.

Ronnie O’Sullivan

It has seemed like O’Sullivan’s status has been under threat right from the very start of the season.

Brecel, then Allen, and then Trump have all already missed opportunities to remove the seven-time world champion from the summit.

Yet glories at the UK Championship and the World Grand Prix have helped O’Sullivan’s defense.

A record eighth world title in Sheffield would likely see him extend his streak as the world number one, albeit not if Allen were his opponent in the final.


World Championship Prize Money
Winner: £500,000
Runner-up: £200,000
Semi-finalists: £100,000
Quarter-finalists: £50,000
Last 16: £30,000
Last 32: £20,000


Shaun Murphy, Ding Junhui, and Mark Williams

Ding Junhui and Mark Williams haven’t been world number ones for nine and 13 years respectively, while Shaun Murphy has never held the coveted status.

The trio must win the title to have any chance, but they’d also need Allen to lose early and hope the other challengers don’t go deep either.

For Murphy and Ding, it would be okay for Allen to reach the second round, but Williams needs the Pistol to misfire in round one.


2024 World Snooker Championship Draw

Round 1 (bo19)

Luca Brecel (1) 9-10 David Gilbert
Robert Milkins (16) 10-9 Pang Junxu
Ali Carter (9) 7-10 Stephen Maguire
Shaun Murphy (8) 10-5 Lyu Haotian

Mark Selby (5) 6-10 Joe O’Connor
Kyren Wilson (12) 10-1 Dominic Dale
John Higgins (13) 10-6 Jamie Jones
Mark Allen (4) 10-6 Robbie Williams

Judd Trump (3) 10-5 Hossein Vafaei
Tom Ford (14) 10-6 Ricky Walden
Zhang Anda (11) 4-10 Jak Jones
Mark Williams (6) 9-10 Si Jiahui

Ding Junhui (7) 9-10 Jack Lisowski
Gary Wilson (10) 5-10 Stuart Bingham
Barry Hawkins (15) 8-10 Ryan Day
Ronnie O’Sullivan (2) 10-1 Jackson Page

Round 2 (bo25)

David Gilbert 13-4 Robert Milkins (16)
Stephen Maguire 13-9 Shaun Murphy (8)

Joe O’Connor 6-13 Kyren Wilson (12)
John Higgins (13) 13-12 Mark Allen (4)

Judd Trump (3) 13-7 Tom Ford (14)
Jak Jones 13-9 Si Jiahui

Jack Lisowski 11-13 Stuart Bingham
Ryan Day 7-13 Ronnie O’Sullivan (2)

Quarter-Finals (bo25)

David Gilbert 13-8 Stephen Maguire
Kyren Wilson (12) 13-8 John Higgins (13)

Judd Trump (3) 9-13 Jak Jones
Stuart Bingham 13-10 Ronnie O’Sullivan (2)

Semi-Finals (bo33)

David Gilbert 11-17 Kyren Wilson (12)
Jak Jones 17-12 Stuart Bingham

Final (bo35)

Kyren Wilson (12) 18-14 Jak Jones

Click here for the latest live scores and session times.


Featured photo credit: WST

2 Comments

  1. Jay Brannon

    The fact so many are still in contention underlines how much the World Championship distorts the rankings. After the seasons they’ve both enjoyed, for neither Trump or O’Sullivan to end it as number one would represent something of a false picture as to where snooker supremacy currently sits.

    • It’s a two year rolling system though, not one year. It’s possible at the end of the tournament neither of them will have won the two most recent world championships. Agree about the Worlds effect on the rankings, exemplified by Brecel’s position, but I think it’s the whole top heavy system. In most events a quarter final appearance is a complete failure according to the points system. Given the prestige of the top 16, there should be reward for consistently reaching the last 16 of events.

      I get both sides of the argument. Winning is important, but we regularly see people in the top 16 of the rankings based on one tournament, rather than consistent performance, which doesn’t feel right.

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