John Higgins Tops World Rankings Under Oldest System

There have been several different systems used to determine the best players in the world, but how would it look today if we incorporated the very first?

Judd Trump, of course, deserves to top the world rankings list at the present on the back of all his recent success on the Main Tour.

However, as it turns out the reigning world champion wouldn’t be number one if the snooker standings were still determined by the original method.

With the COVID-19 pandemic bringing an abrupt end to most sport, including snooker, there hasn’t been any live action of late to report on.

It was for that reason that I started writing about seasons of yesteryear, a memory shot of campaigns during the Crucible era.

A few people have been in touch to express their enjoyment of the new series, and in the next couple of months we’ll certainly get through them all.

But one reader also raised another intriguing point – what would the rankings look like under the old system?

These days, the world rankings are calculated rather simply, by totting up all the prize money earned over the course of two years in the numerous events that are awarded ranking status.

Back in 1976 when the world rankings were initially devised and officially ratified, it was even more straightforward.

At that time there was only one ranking event, the World Championship which later that season would be staged in Sheffield for the first time.

Therefore, the results of the previous three World Championships were used in order to come up with the appropriate placings.

Five points were given to the world champion, four for the runner-up, three for the beaten semi-finalists, two for players who lost in the last eight, and one point for those downed in the first round.

Ray Reardon was the obvious first world number one, with the Welshman having claimed the world title for four successive years between 1973 and 1976.

As only three editions counted, though, Reardon topped the world rankings list with 15 points, ahead of Alex Higgins with nine.

Eddie Charlton, Fred Davis, and Graham Miles completed the top five, with soon-to-be world champion John Spencer all the way down in eighth.

Fast forward a few decades and what would the situation be like now?

Trump, although undeniably the best player overall, wouldn’t in fact be classified as the game’s world number one.

Instead, that honour would go to John Higgins, the Scot having reached the last three World Championship finals at the Crucible.

Despite suffering defeats on each occasion, Higgins would boast 12 points – five more than Trump in second.

Kyren Wilson, Barry Hawkins, and Mark Williams would be in the top five, with Ronnie O’Sullivan all the way down in 14th spot.

A lot of people complain about the current system but it’s pretty reasonable to say that it’s substantially fairer than relying on the one adopted in 1976.

Somewhat interestingly, though, only two players who are currently inside the world’s top 16 aren’t included on this made-up pecking order – Jack Lisowski and Yan Bingtao

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