Race Is On To Keep Tour Places

Steve Davis
Snooker’s 2013/14 season is nearing the closing stretch, with many players battling for every pound to ensure their place on the professional circuit for another year.
There are still five ranking events to go this term – the Welsh Open, Haikou World Open, Players Championship, China Open and World Championship. But many of those on the World Snooker Tour will soon be getting out the calculators and working out what they need to do to keep their cards.
Crucially, the final event in the European Tour series is coming up this week – the Gdynia Open in Poland from February 7 to 9. That will be a vital event for many of those hoping to retain their pro status.
The following players will keep their place on the tour:
- Those ranked inside the top 64 on the two-year prize money list (NOT the ranking points list) following the 2014 World Championship
- Those on the first year of a two-year tour card.
The following players will be issued a new two year tour card:
- The top eight on the European Tour Order of Merit, not already qualified as above.
- The top four on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, not already qualified as above.
The Gdynia Open on the Baltic coast of Poland, then, will see players competing for crucial wins in order to climb the European Tour Order of Merit.
According to the prize money rankings issued following the German Masters 2014, the eight players who are currently in line to qualify from the European Tour Order of Merit are as follows:
1)       Gerard Greene
2)       Sam Baird
3)       Joel Walker
4)       Scott Donaldson
5)       Ian Burns
6)       Michael Wasley
7)       David Grace
8)       Tony Drago
Hot on their heels are the following:
9)       Martin O’Donnell
10)     Stuart Carrington
11)     Barry Pinches
12)     Mike Dunn
Snooker legend Steve Davis is one of the players not yet certain of his tour card for next season and potentially needing to win matches to be sure of continuing his unbroken 36-year stretch as a professional.
He currently lies 60th on the money list and 60th on the European Order of Merit. Jimmy White, meanwhile, is also in a precarious position, 62nd on the money list and 110th on the Order of Merit.
Six-time World Champion Davis said: “The last European Tour event is going to be make or break for some players. Particularly those who look very unlikely to get into the top 64 of the money list. A good run in Poland then becomes their best chance of staying on the tour.
“The big difference now is that one good run in a tournament can really shoot you up the prize money list, and it’s a much better system than using ranking points.
“If you break your wrist and miss a few tournaments, you’ve still got a chance because you can have a run to a quarter or semi-final and catch up fast. In the past, players were getting ranking points just for entering events, even if they lost their first match. Under the prize money system, if you lose your first match you get nothing, and that’s how it should be.
“Even for players who drop off the tour, there are still a lot of opportunities because they can play in Q School in May with a chance to regain their place, or as amateurs they can play in all the European Tour events.”
As for his own position, Davis added: “If I was that worried about staying on the tour or not, I wouldn’t have gone into the jungle. I missed the UK Championship and a couple of European Tour events so inevitably I have dropped back a bit. If I do drop off, I’ll enjoy the challenge of trying to get back on.
“I haven’t looked at the prize money list or the Order of Merit and tried to work out what I need to do. I’m looking forward to Poland just because I enjoy playing in tournaments. If I do enough to guarantee my place, that would be great. If not, I’ll look forward to the rest of the ranking events.”