HOW IMPORTANT is it to be world no.1?
It’s an achievement that only 11 players have managed to accomplish since the world rankings were instituted in 1976.
Ray Reardon, Cliff Thorburn, Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins, Mark Williams, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson, Judd Trump, Mark Selby and Ding Junhui are the men to have occupied top spot in the four decades since.
The world rankings have been transformed from the old days in which the list was revised only at the end of every season. For this reason it can be hard to follow who is ranked where. Players seem to prefer the instant boost that comes after some success - as when Kyren Wilson rose 32 places after winning the Shanghai Masters - but some feel the ranking system has been devalued by a prize money list which so richly rewards tournament winners.
Ding has been world no.1 on two occasions, both for a week or two at a time, but since February Selby has remained out in front.
With £150,000 available at the UK Championship, it is possible for Stuart Bingham to overtake Selby but the smart money remains on the Leicester man staying top of the pile until the end of 2015 at the very least.
Selby, though, admits that winning titles trumps his position at the top of the rankings, even though being top dog is a source of pride.
“My aim during my career was to get to world no.1 and I’ve fulfilled that now. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to stay there. It is a nice feeling,” Selby said.
“But at the same time the way the format is now everyone starts in the first round. As long as you’re in the top 64 that’s all that matters because you play someone seeded 65 to 128.
“Everyone’s in the same boat and has the same chance as me to win a tournament. So for me it’s about trying to win more tournaments.”
However, Selby isn’t completely ambivalent to the rankings, particularly as his beloved Leicester City currently find themselves top of the Premier League, with their star striker having equalled the record for scoring in ten successive matches.
“It would be nice to end the season as no.1,” Selby said. “Someone said to me that when I finished last season as no.1 it was four years on the trot I’d done it. Jamie Vardy keeps doing it so it’d be nice if I could.”
Photographs by Monique Limbos.