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The snooker world rankings are a system of ranking professional snooker players. The highest-ranked players automatically qualify for the final stages of certain tournaments, whereas lower-ranked players have to play a series of qualifying rounds. Naturally, there is also considerable prestige associated with attaining a high ranking.
The rankings for a given season are based on ranking points accumulated by players in the two seasons previous to the current one. Unlike dynamic ranking systems such as the World golf rankings, the snooker rankings remain constant throughout the season (from the end of one world championship to the end of the next). However, snooker pundits will often refer to the so-called "provisional rankings". The provisional rankings (which have no official status in the game) in a given season are based on the ranking points accumulated in the previous season, combined with those accumulated thus far in the current season. The main purpose of this listing is to give a more up-to-date assessment of a player's current form, and by the end of the season it is a good guide to how the next year's official rankings will look. The "provisional provisional" rankings (points earned during the current season - effectively how next year's provisional rankings currently look) are occasionally mentioned.
The ranking system is complex and confusing. The list of tournaments which earn ranking points changes almost every season, as does the number of points awarded for reaching each round. A further complication is that tournament names sometimes change, usually as a result of change in sponsor.
Rankings were first introduced after the 1976 world championship, as a means of determining seedings for subsequent championships. This first system was very simple, only taking into consideration world championship results for the last three years. Players were awarded five points for winning the championship, four points for losing in the final, three for losing in a semi-final, two for losing in a quarter-final and one for losing in the last sixteen. Ray Reardon, who had won the championship all three years, thus became the first player to be officially ranked number one in the world, with fifteen ranking points.
This system remained in place until the 1982/83 season but were still not widely followed. This was partially due to minimal publicising, but also the system seemed unrepresentative; Steve Davis won more tournaments than any other player in the three seasons from 1980/1 to 1982/3 season but figured only 13th, 2nd and 4th on the official rankings. And while Terry Griffiths was generally perceived as Davis's main threat, he ranked 5th, 3rd and 14th. By this time, many more tournaments were being contested, and it seemed reasonable to take their results into consideration as well. Over the next few years, results from the Jameson International, the Professional Players tournament (later known as the LG Cup, now the Grand Prix), the Lada Classic, the UK Championship and the British Open were added to the ranking formula.
The formula continues to evolve almost every year, with tournaments being added and removed from the rankings list, and adjustments made to the points system.
The current rankings for the 2005/06 season were compiled from the results of eight tournaments: the totesport Grand Prix, British Open, UK Championship, Welsh Open, Malta Cup, Irish Masters, China Open and World Championship. For six of these tournaments, the winner is awarded 4000 points, the runner-up 3000, losing semi-finalists 2050, losing quarter-finalists 1750 and so on down to 200 points for losing in the first round. The world championship earns double points. The UK Championship earns one and a half times the points.