Sunday, 5 August 2012

Fighting for the top 16

Breaking into the world's top 16 is a milestone every professional player hopes to reach at some point in their career.

It means automatic qualification for the major ranking events and a place as one of the game's top players. It's a sign of status.

Ultimately, a player's career will always be judged on tournaments won and the great days they have playing the sport. These are far more important than your position in the world, but the rankings are still a great marker for progress and position.

That's why Marcus Campbell hasn't given up on his dream of breaking into the elite.

At 40-years-old he's playing some of the best snooker of his career. After years on the edges of the big time, he's found a greater level of consistency over the past two seasons and is up to number 22 in the world rankings.

Speaking in a recent interview with World Snooker he says he believes this is his time to push into the top 16.

The introduction of extra tournaments under Barry Hearn has helped Marcus to improve and going one step further would be rich reward for a player who has a good attitude, has spent years grafting and enjoys playing as much as ever.

A passage to his maiden ranking event semi-final at the Wuxi Classic earlier this season should give him that extra belief that he can win matches under pressure and force his way into the reckoning.

Campbell is most famous in the sport for beating Stephen Hendry 9-0 in the 1998 UK Championship when his fellow Scot was at the height of his power. This is still regarded as one of the biggest shocks in the sport, but while this was a career highlight he would probably take as much joy from reaching his ranking target. This would be reward for his performances over a sustained period rather than just one day. It is an indicator of consistency, and says he has constantly been among the best.

This target won't be easy as there are many more players in the hunt for the top 16.

Among his rivals, Mark Davis is definitely a man to watch. Like Campbell he reached his first ranking event semi-final at the Wuxi Classic but then followed that up by progressing to the last four at the Australian Open as well. He came within one win of reaching the top 16 at the expense of Ronnie O'Sullivan last season and will want to have another crack at making it. He's well placed at number 18 in the rankings.

Just above him is Ali Carter. He reached the World Championship final in May but is a sufferer of crohn's disease. I understand his condition is getting better and this could be the break he needs to reignite his best form.

Ali's problem has never been getting himself up and finding motivation in the big games. For him, it's all about digging out results in the smaller events. His recent run to the quarter-finals of the UKPTC1 suggests he may be ready to do well on all fronts this season.

Elsewhere, world number 19 Barry Hawkins recently won the Australian Open, world number 20 Peter Ebdon was runner-up there and won the China Open at the end of last season. They're both back in form and look in determined mood.

Could a burst of form come from the way of Andrew Higginson, Dominic Dale or Joe Perry? They're also in the mix. But then at world ranked 25 Jamie Cope has qualified for all three venues so far this season and is showing signs of a resurgence.

Or someone lower down the ranks?

There are plenty of players capable of making the push over a long, hard season. But who do you think is best equipped to force their way into the top 16 this season?

Leave your opinions below...


  1. I bet on Ebdon! He is very slow but that's just his tactic(often works really good) and he still has the best nerves and concentration power!

  2. I think we should be watching out for Jamie Cope. Every chance he could have a good season.