The best way to expand snooker’s reach and appeal and reinvigorate the professional game would be a complete overhaul of the ranking system.

There are currently just 15 events that count towards a player’s ranking – the seven counting tournaments last season and the eight taking place during this campaign.

This is far more than there used to be. Indeed, when the rankings were first introduced in 1976 the criteria used to decide the placings was the performance of each player in the previous three World Championships. This system remained in place until 1982.

It seems to me, and I’m certainly not alone in this, that there needs to be more counting events but these do not necessarily have to be on the big, costly scale of the current recognisable tournaments.

These are expensive. It’s the reason the WPBSA – braced for a major financial hit if they have to cover a sponsorless World Championship – will not step in to provide prize money for the Malta Cup, even though they were offered a three-year deal by the local promoters.

It’s also the reason the WPBSA are admitting privately that the Bahrain Championship and Northern Ireland Trophy are unlikely to take place next season.

But all it takes is a bit of imagination and the number of tournaments could dramatically increase.

What is needed is a series of different ranking points tariffs for various tournaments.

For example:

Tariff A is the World Championship – 10,000 points to the winner as now.

Tariff B is the UK Championship – 7,500 points to the winner.

Tariff C is all the remaining current events – 5,000 points to the winner.

Then, points are awarded to other tournaments, independently staged.

There have been a number of big pro-ams in Europe, notably in Germany, in recent years.

Why not give the Paul Hunter Classic ranking status and award, say, 750 points to the winner?

It doesn’t sound much but could make the difference between a player being in the top 16 or not and – and here’s the other positive – encourage more top players to go and compete, which in turn might attract greater TV and media coverage, thus increasing the appeal of snooker in key markets.

So, Tariff D could include this event, the Belgian, Dutch and Austrian Opens.

Similar pro-ams could be staged in other areas of the world. They would carry prestige as ranking tournaments but not completely skew the ranking list because the points available would be low compared to the established events.

Players would not have to play in every event but, then again, they don’t have to now. If Ronnie O’Sullivan only wanted to play in the World Championship there is nothing in the rules to stop him (although if he entered the other tournaments he would have to provide a reason for his non-appearances).

So what’s the problem with this plan?

Basically, the WPBSA has a monopoly on the ranking system and is unlikely to want to give it up, even if it would help the development of the game.

However, the distribution of ranking points could still be in their gift. Someone, after all, has to administer the list.

I concede all this is not quite as simple as I’ve made out. For instance, there would need to be guarantees about tables meeting official standard and other considerations such as supplying referees and so on.

But there could be 20 ranking tournaments a year and players not on the 96-man main tour, particularly from outside the UK, would have their chance to get some points and get on the list.

Snooker should be opened up, not closed down. The circuit has shrunk in recent years while the global interest has grown.

This can’t be right and the rankings would be a good starting point for turning things round.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with this. If there is really a will to make snooker a global sport this is the way to go.


Anonymous said...

I agree Dave - does this shock you ;-)!!

I pointed out a few months ago how stupid the current system is.

Everyone refers to the provisional rankings as an indicator of a player's current form - why not make these the current rankings then?

I pointed out a scenario that could well happen - Shaun Murphy won the UK last month. If he doesn't win another ranking match this season, and then doesn't go on to win any ranking match all of next season up until the World Champs in 2010, guess what? He still gets entry based on his results from 17 months previous! What other sport has such a slow moving ranking system?

Ideally you would want to re-rank players after each ranking event, with enough time between events so that qualifiers for the next event have still to take place.

Currently we face the ridiculous possibility of the new champion of the ranking event just played having already played his qualifier match for the next ranking event - and lost.

Suppose he's beaten O'Sullivan in the final while banging in a couple of 147s on route to winning? Everyone would want to see this new star on TV. Tough, the qualifier has already been played, you lost, and your ranking is fixed for the entire year!!! Stupid, just plain stupid.

Anonymous said...

Reckon ur ideas r good Dave. Hope World Snooker take them on board. They took ur ideas on board for the open draw at the Grand Prix, so u never know. Pro-am's with minimal points around the snooker clubs of the Uk would also be an idea. Some of the facilities are really good in these clubs and of tournament standard.


Anonymous said...

Another person who agrees 100% with Dave's blog. Sounds like a good system. As you say it's easier said than done but it could be built up gradually with established events like the Paul Hunter Classic being a trial event for this purpose.

On your final points about the tour being shrunk. It definately would benefit snooker if it became 'open' again. I think you blogged before about it. But entrance fees could be charged at a reasonable amount so that all costs are covered and maybe even a profit could be taken. The game needs expansion.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave

As you possibly know this is exactly the structure we have discussed within the Players Association and we believe this is the only way forward in the expansion of the game on a global scale. However to achieve this there must be no commercial conflict between the custodian of the ranking system and the process of awarding and the awarding body themselves. Only a totally independent body could due this with no alleged bias.

This particular challenge will be one of the first priorities of the Association and it will be up to the players to decide if they want this type of system to be pushed and in short order implemented. The involvement of commercial promoters across the world will create competition for players attendance and give local talent the opportunity to compete at levels they currently have no exposure to.

It takes a big step and will mean things like the decentralisation of qualifying but will allow infrastructure to be put in place across a host of countries through the federations and supporting bodies who have a genuine desire to see top class professional snooker on there doorstep, whislt also enhancing number of opportunities to compete for ranking points.

Pat Mooney

Unknown said...

Hi Dave

I was wondering whether you'd heard the rumours about the Blue ball problems i've been hearing about?

It's seem the ranking structure isn't the only problem within our sport.


Anonymous said...

a good blog dave

as pat said, its being discussed (but not for everyone in public) "as we speak".

similar has been said on forums over the years too, but hopefully the voice of this blog will carry the message even further.

good posting!

Anonymous said...


You talk of the rankings starting in 1976 - as is commonly quoted.

The first list was actually drawn up in 1975 awarding 5-4-3-2-1 points for the 1973-75 Worlds.

This was needed after the bizarre seedings for the 1975 event which favoured Eddie Charlton.

The 1976 event had 14 players exempt from qualifying based on the "lost" ranking list.

Anonymous said...

Good idea Dave. Awarding points for progress in national "opens" is a natural stepping stone towards globalising the game. The German Open in particular has gone from strength to strength in recent years, and it is not unfeasible that in a season or 2's time, we'd see all 96 main tour pros entering it anyway! So it makes sense to "recognise" it in this way.

Deciding on ranking point "tariffs" would need some discussion; I would suggest that to qualify as a ranking event, an event would have to have tables templated to a specific standard, referees in attendance, and a minimum prize fund. I'd go a step further and limit the amount of ranking events a country could have, otherwise we'd have 20 or 30 UK "open" events qualifying as ranking events, thereby creating a heavier UK bias than is already in place!

I doubt that it'll happen at all though; an organisation that experiences severe difficulties with simple tasks such as updating it's website, is going to be in an extreme tangle sorting out a ranking list that has a counting event every other weekend. That's YOU, WSA....(!)

Anonymous said...

I think you are spot on Dave, I have been disussing this numerous times on my blog over the last 12 months.

I think we need to take a look at Tennis, yes they have larger prize funds and more coverage, but the infrastructure is geared towards the players. It is about time that snooker concentrated on it's players and offered a reward for attending smaller events.

I also love the idea of some of these events being truly 'OPEN' - it would be a huge boost to the emerging snooker nations if players could gain recognition, through the ranking list, on a world stage.

My thoughts have always been that in order to be a 'World Tour' we need to be playing more events and that many of these will be outside the UK.

Anonymous said...

The ranking system was contrived between a former chairman of world snooker and the manager who supported him in order that the latter had an element of protection for his players.
What they constructed was a system where just for playing to your ranking you never moved. Hence players like Darren Morgan never moved for years, and someone like Alan McManus went between first round exits and victories and therefore also didn't disappear out of the top 16.
A current, rolling system is needed. But that means the game needs to be barve enough and strong enough to live with those changes.
It should have been done ten years ago, but nobody had the anatomy to do it.
I know it needs changing, but I just wonder if this is the right time when there is so little money in snooker - and as we know, money means tournaments.
As for the idea of handing out ranking points for what are, in effect, inflated pro-ams, on occasions on sub-standard tables, and without the glare of TV lights (where some players do play better) would only be considered by someone who in his own way, is trying to gather support.
Sadly for snooker, changing the rankings system has been part of a popularity contest.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure I get the pint of the last posting, surely you mean tournaments mean money rather than the other way around, If I get you correct the key thing would be to ensure minimum standards for events and of course events that had Tv broadcast (The TV lights as you mentioned) then they would potentially be a higher ranking tournament. You mention also glorified pro-am as a description of the potential new and developing events as if this is a bad thing. The winners will be the players that perform best as always, and to say that the current qualifying venue is populated by only full time pros is wrong to say the least, many of these players are driving taxis, working in bars and basically doing anything they can to make ends meet. Lets just say this. If a system could be developed by the players and interested parties that allowed more tournaments, more participants, more local club and federation involvement how can anyone think this would be a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

No, money means tournaments. Unless I've been watching something else, in snooker, if there is no money tournaments are reduced. Or have you not worked that one out.
As for players "driving taxis, working in bars and basically doing anything they can to make ends meet", you can hardly be called a professional anything if you have two jobs.
So they are semi-professional - a further indication of where snooker is at - if you get my 'pint'

Dave H said...

What a lot of snooker fans probably don't realise is that many, if not most, people in the snooker world base their reactions on any new proposals not on what is being proposed but on who is proposing it, reigniting old arguments and rivalries and generally holding the game back

This has happened for far too long

In fact, snooker's only hope for the future may be to get an entirely new cast and start again - a bit like Skins

Anonymous said...

My my your are touchy,

Sorry I thought you had got the point that this was for snooker on a larger scale than just the ones you watch on the telly, remember these players have got to come from somewhere

Strangely enough I have worked these things out, All over the world there are tournaments running will little recognition and in many cases no support. If these types of events can be incorporated to set and agreed standards, and also brought into a much bigger picture they have much more chance of attracting local commercial support. This in turn would potentially mean prize money that may attract a higher standard of player therefore increasing the interest and of course the standards of competition. Things evolve and change is natural, and in my very humble opinion there has never been a better time for change.

PS could you spell check this one for me as well as my pa has went home.

Anonymous said...

"PS could you spell check this one for me as well as my pa has went home"

The spelling is fine. It's the grammar that leaves much to be desired.

My pa has GONE home, not has went home.

Get her to check that for you as well in the morning

Anonymous said...

It is only at the turn of the century that WSA ran a series of Open events that attracted over 700 entries the least entry was 199, Glasgow, 410 at Leicester, 500+ Pontins.

With a £1,000 to the winner I think.

£50 entry players outside the top 32 could enter.

Players came from all over the World including Japan and Brazil.

Series scrapped through WSA cut backs.

The series kept players active and put money back into the clubs.

Pontins covers to some aspects that roll now - But it is too dear.

Malc Thorne

Anonymous said...

Correct Malcolm

The delivery of any kind of new or uprated ranking system will be down to cost - and unfortunately, way down WPBSA's list of priorities

Anonymous said...

Lots of details to be worked out but all in all a great idea that needs to be implemented. Is it perhaps to soon to be over the moon(ey) positive? Is this the way to get serious about ranking events in mainland Europe?

Anonymous said...

dave how do you commentate and write all these blogs? Im curious.

Anonymous said...

It's the most important problem with snooker. The top pros are getting straight through to the top without having to play much. A young lad may have to play 7 or 8 matches before getting of tv, assuming he can get on the main tour.

The rich get richer and its the pros who are protecting their own revenue.
Shame snooker will surly die if they dont do something soon.

Anonymous said...

Whether it is in Malta or not, there definitely should be a ranking event in continenral Europe. I know that in the past such events in Germany, Holland and Belgium did not draw huge crowds but things are different now as World Series of Snooker has shown.

Sponsors are going to be even more difficult to find in the current economic climate so bums on seats are even more important and it just looks so bad when venues are nearly empty. You could 'smell' the atmosphere at Wembley. How much better for players and audience than the open spaces in Bahrain and also Glasgow.

Anonymous said...

If you think the rankings in snooker need an overhaul, just take a look at the World Bowls Tour. The top 16 has hardly changed in the last 10 years - there has been very little movement, as they are able to attain points far too easily.

Anonymous said...

Something else that needs changing is the number of relegated players. 24 out of 96 is far too many - 25%. Would the premiership stand for 5 teams going down? No is the answer.

There are too many places available for home based players. Depending on their age, English players have 12/14 places available to them - 8 PIOS, 2 EASB, European Champs & Junior, IBSF & Junior. Other home nations have one less.

I see no reason to give extra places to the 'home' players and would suggest reducing the annual intake to 16. This would be made up of:
Top 8 PIOS
IBSF World Champion
IBSF Under-21
European Champion
Euro Under-19 champion
Asian Champion
Asian Under-21 Champion
Oceania Champion
One 'wild card' invitation.

I would further suggest that in selecting the 'wild card', priority should be given to overseas players who have less opportunity to qualify by other routes. Unless they receive finacial backing they cannot come here for six months to play the PIOS tour. It goes without saying that such a player should have demonstrated he has the talent to retain a tour place.

At the moment far too many of those promoted drop off again after just one season. This partly down to simply not being good enough but a lot to do with the number of players being relegated. Even with 'starter points' it is still very difficult to claim enought points in one season to retain a place. It takes most players a while to settle into the professional game.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god here we go again, Snooker Scene once again let those from the World Series advertise to their own end.

What the World Series of Snooker has shown is nothing.............Overseas events have been going on for years, such as those in Germany, Austria etc.

The World Series has turned into a farce.

Anyone can sell snooker tickets for a Saturday and Sunday, which effectively covers quarter finals to finals.

Let's see WSS sell tickets for lower rounds on Mondays, Tuesdays, etc.

Let's see WSS put on a 64 player 10 day event and then boast about popularity and how ground breaking they are.

Cancelled events 2008

14 year olds gifted a place in the finals

2008 final held in March 2009 ???? When??

Changes in format

Broken promises to local winners.

GARY BRITTAN, best local of whole series. Is he going to Moscow David?


Maybe we should consider this when constantly targeting World Snooker.

I note with interest that World Snooker has made no comment or attack on the World Series despite all of the attacks, snide comments and hidden attacks that scatter the press and websites, all fro those at WSS who feel this a legitimate way of doing business. In public they pretend to support WS and in private they play silly games.

Make sure you let your readers know just how close you are to World Series David, I dont think you are objective in this matter.

Why not disclose your relationship.

Does it still include free flights, hotel, meals and full VIP access to World Series events as it did in Jersey?

Some would say you have a conflict of interest?

We will let the reader decide, having considered the facts a little more.

Oh, and lets be honest, without the top 16, hardly groundbreaking is it?

The WSS simply tells us how good, successful and ground-breaking it is via yourselves and via John Docherty (another with all expenses paid deal).

But then word has it that Pat Mooney has been telling people how succesful he is for years. Maybe the following would disagree:

Hayes Interselection - Team ART
Patrick Barbour
Stowe College
Guy Foster
Assocoation of Financial Srevices Trainers (failed to launch lol)

Come on David, lets see some hard-hitting honest comment, dont be a lapdog.

Snooker doent deserve that.

Food for thought for all xxx

Anonymous said...

does anyone have dates for WSS final at Kremiln in March?

Anonymous said...

has anyone heard where the 2009 World Series events are to be held?

Anonymous said...

nothing on WSS website relating to 2009 series or kremlin final.

Dave H said...

I'm very happy to 'disclose my relationship' with World Series.

It's this: I was invited to Jersey where my flight and hotel was paid by the organisers. This has also happened in the past for previous WPBSA events outside the UK.

In neither case did it affect the objectivity of my reporting.

I didn't go to the other events but I'm told by the players that they were much better run than the Jersey one.

Roger Thomas said...

I think that snooker should use the ranking system used in tennis. Their ranking system is updated weekly and takes into account a players performance over the previous 52 weeks.

Admittedly there are more tournaments in tennis, but couple my suggestion with more tournaments and you begin to see a much better and reliable system.