Tour Survival 2018 – Two To Go

  • 31st March 2018

With just next week’s Fuhua Group China Open and the season-ending Betfred World Championship to go before the end of the 2017/18 season, today we take an updated look at the battle for tour survival as players in the drop zone look to retain their professional status for at least another campaign.

Below I explain just how the places will be determined this season, before looking at each of the players currently in the danger zone, on an individual basis.

The links

Who stays on tour?

In summary, the following players will retain their professional places for 2018/19:

  • All players ranked inside the top 64 on the two-year ranking list following the 2018 World Championship
  • All players ranked outside of the top 64 on the two-year ranking list, who have joined the tour for 2017/18 on the first year of a two-year tour card.
  • The top eight players ranked on the one-year ranking list, not already qualified as above.

Who will finish in the top 64?

In recent seasons the key amount earned by the 64th ranked player at the end of the season has been:

  • 2014 – Jimmy White – £48,692
  • 2015 – Joe Swail – £54,582
  • 2016 – Stuart Carrington – £49,431
  • 2017 – Noppon Saengkham – £60,050

During my previous player-by-player update I estimated that at least £70,000-£80,000 could be required on the official two-year ranking list by those looking to secure their positions inside of the top 64 by the end of the season. However, two months on and with current 64th player Alan McManus already set to finish with at least £73,400 (with the opportunity to add £9,000 if he can win his opening match at the World Championship qualifiers), even £80,000 may not be enough to guarantee safety.

Players who finish the season inside of the top 64 will all earn a one-year tour card for the 2018/19 season, but importantly will retain their prize money earned for the new campaign.

One year list

With eight fresh tour cards up for grabs, last year saw Ian Burns take the final spot on the one-year list with a season total of £23,862.

Already though, we can see that again the bar will rise during the current campaign with current eighth placed player (outside of the top 64) Alfie Burden on £24,100 with two events still to be completed.

These players would earn a new two-year card, but see their total ranking points reset to zero at the start of the 2018/19 season.

Who is on the first year of a two-year card?

Simply put, those players who are safe due to being on the first year of a two-year tour card, are those highlighted in green on the latest provisional end of season rankings page.

For the avoidance of doubt, those 35 players are:

  • Lyu Haotian, Ken Doherty (ITC), Sunny Akani, Alexander Ursenbacher, Xu Si, Peter Lines, Li Yuan, Martin O’Donnell, Gerard Greene, Zhang Yong, Allan Taylor, Ian Burns, Jimmy White (ITC), Ashley Hugill, Chen Zifan, Niu Zhuang, Yuan Sijun, Eden Sharav, Robin Hull, Billy Castle, Ross Muir, Chris Totten, Duane Jones, Joe Swail, Sanderson Lam, Soheil Vahedi, Paul Davison, Nigel Bond, Rod Lawler, Hamza Akbar, Sean O’Sullivan, Rhys Clark, Lukas Kleckers, Basem Eltahhan, Matthew Bolton

What about the rest?

For everybody else, I will consider their prospects individually below, highlighting where they currently stand on the two respective lists i.e. provisional end of season ranking list and the one-year list, before trying to summarise how they stand overall.

In the circumstances, while players above could still fall back into the danger zone, for the purposes of this article I am going to look at this those currently 59th and below in the latest provisional end of season list.

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh

Provisional EOS ranking list: 59th – £80,000 (+7,275)

One-year ranking list: 49th – £47,500 (+23,400)

Summary: A top 32 player less than 18 months ago, Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh has slipped down the ranking list in recent months, largely owing to a disappointing run of form during the 2016/17 season.

The good news for Un-Nooh however is that not only has he qualified for the final stages of the China Open (plays Mark Williams), but realistically one victory at the World Championship qualifiers will likely guarantee his top 64 place for another year. If not, his position on the one-year ranking list is strong enough to ensure that worst case he would earn a new two-year card if he were to drop out of the top 64.

Liam Highfield

Provisional EOS ranking list: 60th – £76,325 (+3,600)

One-year ranking list: 57th – £41,100 (+17,000)

Summary: Hoping to secure a season-end top 64 spot for the first time in his career, Liam Highfield has given himself every chance to do so following a successful season which has already seen him reach his first-ever quarter-final at the Indian Open back in October.

Like Un-Nooh above him, he has also qualified for the final stages of next week’s China Open and with a potential £6,000 reward for overcoming home player Lu Haotian in his opening match, will be keen to progress and take the pressure off his shoulders heading into Sheffield.

One victory in either of the next two tournaments will likely be enough to seal a top 64 spot, while his one-year list position is also strong should he fail to do so.

Rory McLeod

Provisional EOS ranking list: 61st – £75,887 (+3,162)

One-year ranking list: 72nd – £27,500 (+3,400)

Summary: An ever-present on the main tour since 2001, Rory McLeod will head to Sheffield (having not qualified for China), in all likelihood needing to win his opening match to safeguard his position on both the two-year and one-year ranking lists.

Defeat would not definitely spell the end, but the 47-year-old would be left sweating on other results as the Tour Survival battle reaches its climax next month.

Daniel Wells

Provisional EOS ranking list: 62nd – £75,712 (+2,987)

One-year ranking list: 77th – £26,500 (+2,400)

Summary: Having ended last season 62nd in the rankings, Welshman Daniel Wells is currently on course to do so again with two events to go. Like McLeod above him, Wells has not qualified for China and so will be looking to secure his top 64 status with an opening round victory at the English Institute for Sport.

Oliver Lines

Provisional EOS ranking list: 63rd – £74,312 (+1,587)

One-year ranking list: 67th – £32,500 (+8,400)

Summary: Just two places above the drop zone, Oliver Lines will head to Sheffield knowing that he will need to win at least one match, possibly more depending on the results of those behind him, to make certain of his top 64 status at the end of the campaign.

If he were to drop out, he is at least better placed than McLeod and Wells above him on the one-year list and so would also be in contention to earn a new two-year card by that route.

Alan McManus

Provisional EOS ranking list: 64th – £73,400 (+675)

One-year ranking list: 55th – £42,500 (+18,400)

Summary: Ranked 32nd in the world at the time of writing, Alan McManus might come as a surprise inclusion in this list to those uninitiated with the current ranking system. A Crucible semi-finalist back in only 2016 however, the veteran Scot is due to lose the prize money earned as a result of that run by the end of this season and so is set to plummet down the list to 64th as it stands.

Enjoying an unbroken spell on the tour dating back to 1990, McManus does not face relegation thanks to his relatively strong position on the one-year ranking list, but will be keen to stay inside the top 64 and give himself a platform from which to climb up the list next term, rather than see his points total reset to zero. Not qualified for China, his fate will rest upon results in Sheffield next month.

John Astley

Provisional EOS ranking list: 65th – £72,725 (-675)

One-year ranking list: 65th – £33,600 (+9,500)

Summary: The first of the chasing pack looking to break into the top 64, John Astley gave his hopes a boost with his recent run to the last 16 of the Welsh Open in Cardiff to leave him well positioned to take advantage of any slip ups from the players immediately above him.

Not qualified for China, the 29-year-old must win at least one match in Sheffield and then see what happens, while two victories or more would surely be enough to see him leapfrog one of the players above him.

Lee Walker

Provisional EOS ranking list: 66th – £65,825 (-7,575)

One-year ranking list: 68th – £32,000 (+7,900)

Summary: Until recently Lee Walker’s position was very much in the balance on both lists, but his maiden ranking event semi-final run at the recent Gibraltar Open has provided a timely boost to the Welshman at the end of the season.

Qualified to play Ben Woollaston at the final stages of the China Open, victory in either that match or his opener at the World Championship qualifiers should at least make sure of his tour status via the one-year list, while two or more would put him in with a realistic shot of finishing the season up inside the top 64.

David Grace

Provisional EOS ranking list: 67th – £63,225 (-10,175)

One-year ranking list: 80th – £24,100 (-0)

Summary: Not qualified for Beijing, David Grace must win at least two matches at the World Championship qualifiers to have a chance of finishing inside the top 64, while his position on the one-year list could not be closer, currently tied with Alfie Burden for the eighth and final qualifying place, but behind on countback after Burden won matches at the recent Gibraltar Open.

Mei Xiwen

Provisional EOS ranking list: 68th – £62,712 (-10,688)

One-year ranking list: 69th – £30,500 (+6,400)

Summary: Like Grace above him, Mei Xiwen must win at least two matches in Sheffield to break into the top 64, but he is better placed to earn a new two-year tour card via the one-year list, currently holding onto the fifth of the available eight positions via that route.

One victory in Sheffield is likely to secure a new card via the one-year ranking list.

Zhang Anda

Provisional EOS ranking list: 69th – £62,250 (-11,150)

One-year ranking list: 72nd – £23,750 (-350)

Summary: See David Grace – the ‘Mighty Mouse’ Zhang Anda has not qualified for the China Open and so must win at least two matches at the World Championship qualifiers to stand any chance of breaking into the top 64, while his position on the one-year list is also very much in the balance.

Tian Pengfei

Provisional EOS ranking list: 70th – £60,575 (-12,825)

One-year ranking list: 64th – £34,500 (+10,400)

Summary: Similar to Mei Xiwen, Tian must win at least two, likely three matches in Sheffield to bring himself into contention for a top 64 spot, but he is well-placed on the one-year list in comparison to some of those around him, with only Elliot Slessor of those currently outside of the top 64 placed higher.

Elliot Slessor

Provisional EOS ranking list: 71st – £60,362 (-13,038)

One-year ranking list: 43rd – £51,000 (+26,900)

Summary: Speaking of Elliot Slessor, the Northern Ireland Open semi-finalist is next and already more than assured of his ongoing tour status thanks to his lofty position on the one-year ranking list.

But can he break into the top 64? He has qualified for the final stages of the China Open where he could face five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, but in all likelihood he will need to qualify for what would be his Crucible debut to avoid his points total being reset to zero at the end of the season.

Alfie Burden

Provisional EOS ranking list: 72nd – £58,350 (-15,050)

One-year ranking list: 80th – £24,100 (+0)

Summary: An ever-present on tour since 2010, London’s Alfie Burden must at least qualify to play at the Crucible Theatre for the first time in 20 years if he is to finish the season ranked inside of the top 64.

His best chance however looks to be via the one-year ranking list as he currently holds onto the eighth and final qualifying spot for a fresh two-year tour ticket with two events to go. Expect him to need at least one match win in Sheffield to stay there.

Sam Baird

Provisional EOS ranking list: 73rd – £55,850 (-17,550)

One-year ranking list: 91st – £19,600 (-4,500)

Summary: It has been a difficult season for Sam Baird which has seen his ranking fall dramatically, but his deciding-frame victory in the China Open qualifiers against Soheil Vahedi has at least given him hope via the one-year ranking list.

Barry Hawkins will await in Beijing, but otherwise another strong run in Sheffield will likely be needed for Sam to retain his tour status via either ranking list.

Sam Craigie

Provisional EOS ranking list: 76th – £48,462 (-24,938)

One-year ranking list: 70th – £29,600 (+5,500)

Summary: Another player through to the final stages of the China Open where he will face Martin Gould, Craigie’s best chance of remaining on tour is clearly via the one-year ranking list, with a single victory either in Beijing or Sheffield likely to be enough to secure his position.

Zhao Xintong

Provisional EOS ranking list: 78th – £47,262 (-26,138)

One-year ranking list: 83rd – £23,725 (-375)

Summary: China’s Zhao Xintong must reach at least the last 16 of the World Championship to bring himself into contention for a top 64 place, but he is better placed on the one-year list with one or two victories in Sheffield potentially enough to see the 20-year-old earn a fresh two-year tour card.

Hammad Miah

Provisional EOS ranking list: 79th – £45,837 (-27,563)

One-year ranking list: 90th – £20,000 (-4,100)

Summary: Must reach at least the quarter-finals of the World Championship to finish inside the top 64, or win at least one match to have any chance via the one-year list.

Mitchell Mann

Provisional EOS ranking list: 80th – £45,525 (-27,875)

One-year ranking list: 85th – £23,500 (-600)

Summary: A similar story to Hammad Miah above, although Mann is slightly better placed via the one-year ranking list.

Aditya Mehta

Provisional EOS ranking list: 81st – £43,600 (-29,800)

One-year ranking list: 79th – £26,100 (+2,000)

Summary: Another player needing to reach the quarter-finals in Sheffield to break into the top 64, Mehta currently holds onto the seventh spot available via the one-year ranking list and will know that one or possibly two victories at the English Institute for Sport could be enough to secure him a new tour ticket.

Ian Preece

Provisional EOS ranking list: 82nd – £39,100 (-34,300)

One-year ranking list: 88th – £22,100 (-2,000)

Summary: See Hammad Miah above.

Jak Jones

Provisional EOS ranking list: 83rd – £37,962 (-35,458)

One-year ranking list: 92nd – £19,100 (-5,000)

Summary: Another player whose best chance realistically comes via the one-year list, Jones has qualified for the final stages of the China Open following a notable victory against Judd Trump and will now face Nigel Bond in Beijing. Victory in that match would see Jones climb into the top eight qualifying positions on the one-year list at the expense of Alfie Burden heading into Sheffield so one to keep an eye on next week.

James Wattana (ITC)

Provisional EOS ranking list: 85th – £33,500 (-39,900)

One-year ranking list: 112th – £10,000 (-14,100)

Summary: Well adrift on both lists, Thai legend Wattana must qualify for the Crucible if he is to threaten the top eight of the one-year rankings.

Craig Steadman

Provisional EOS ranking list: 87th – £32,550 (-40,850)

One-year ranking list: 94th – £18,500 (-5,600)

Summary: Craig Steadman has qualified for the final stages in China to play either Ding Junhui or Michael Georgiou, but otherwise will need a run in Sheffield if he is to finish inside of the all-important top eight qualifiers on the one-year list to retain his place on tour.

Fang Xiongman

Provisional EOS ranking list: 88th – £32,150 (-41,250)

One-year ranking list: 98th – £16,600 (-7,500)

Summary: Must reach at least the quarter-finals of the World Championship (two-year list), or win at least one match in Sheffield to challenge the top eight (one-year list).

Wang Yuchen

Provisional EOS ranking list: 91st – £27,000 (-46,400)

One-year ranking list: 108th – £11,500 (-12,600)

Summary: Must reach at least the semi-finals of the World Championship, although he has still to play a heldover match at the China Open against world number one Mark Selby next week which could improve his position.

Thor Chuan Leong

Provisional EOS ranking list: 97th – £20,400 (-53,000)

One-year ranking list: 114th – £8,500 (-15,600)

Summary: Must reach at least the semi-finals of the World Championship (two-year list), or qualify for the Crucible to challenge the top eight (one-year list).

Adam Duffy

Provisional EOS ranking list: 98th – £19,862 (-53,538)

One-year ranking list: 110th – £10,500 (-13,600)

Summary: Must reach at least the semi-finals of the World Championship (two-year list), or qualify for the Crucible to challenge the top eight (one-year list).

Alex Borg

Provisional EOS ranking list: 101st – £18,100 (-55,300)

One-year ranking list: 122nd – £5,100 (-19,000)

Summary: Must reach at least the semi-finals of the World Championship (two-year list), or reach the last 16 in Sheffield to challenge the top eight (one-year list).

Chen Zhe

Provisional EOS ranking list: 103rd – £17,500 (-55,900)

One-year ranking list: 102nd – £14,000 (-10,100)

Summary: Must reach at least the semi-finals of the World Championship (two-year list), or win two matches at the World Championship qualifiers to challenge the top eight (one-year list).

Josh Boileau

Provisional EOS ranking list: 111th – £12,812 (-60,588)

One-year ranking list: 124th – £4,500 (-19,600)

Summary: Must reach at least the semi-finals of the World Championship (two-year list), or reach the last 16 in Sheffield to challenge the top eight (one-year list).

Jamie Curtis-Barrett

Provisional EOS ranking list: 115th – £11,100 (-62,300)

One-year ranking list: 117th – £7,600 (-16,500)

Summary: Must reach at least the semi-finals of the World Championship (two-year list), or qualify for the Crucible to challenge the top eight (one-year list).

Kurt Dunham

Provisional EOS ranking list: 117th – £10,025 (-63,375)

One-year ranking list: 119th – £7,000 (-17,100)

Summary: Must reach at least the semi-finals of the World Championship (two-year list), or qualify for the Crucible to challenge the top eight (one-year list).

Chris Keogan

Provisional EOS ranking list: 119th – £8,550 (-64,850)

One-year ranking list: 128th – £3,500 (-20,600)

Summary: Must reach at least the semi-finals of the World Championship (two-year list), or reach the last 16 in Sheffield to challenge the top eight (one-year list).

Kritsanut Lertsattayatthorn

Provisional EOS ranking list: 121st – £8,000 (-65,400)

One-year ranking list: 160th – £0 (-24,100)

Summary: Has not played this season.

Boonyarit Keattikun

Provisional EOS ranking list: 123rd – £6,000 (-67,400)

One-year ranking list: 131st – £2,000 (-22,100)

Summary: Has not played this year.

Leo Fernandez

Provisional EOS ranking list: 126th – £5,000 (-68,400)

One-year ranking list: 123rd – £5,000 (-19,100)

Summary: Must reach at least the semi-finals of the World Championship (two-year list), or reach the last 16 in Sheffield to challenge the top eight (one-year list).

David John

Provisional EOS ranking list: 128th – £2,337 (-71,063)

One-year ranking list: 160th – £0 (-24,100)

Summary: Must reach at least the semi-finals of the World Championship (two-year list), or reach the last 16 in Sheffield to challenge the top eight (one-year list).