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The 32 competitors will face off for the most coveted trophy in the sport as the 2016 World Snooker Championship gets under way. To get there, however, not all of them would have had to face the same obstacles.

The top 16 athletes, as determined by the highest earners over the previous two years, are automatically qualified for the televised rounds of the competition, which are held at Sheffield's Crucible. A direct entry is also granted to the reigning world champion. Players ranked 17–144 in the world, any other reigning world champions, and chosen players from emerging nations compete in a qualifying tournament to determine the final spots.

A player must win five games in order to be crowned world champion after the first 32 players enter the Crucible. But before this stage, those who weren't in the top 16 had to win three more games. Is this reasonable?

In a similar manner, the top 32 players in the qualifying competition for darts receive automatic entry into the championship rounds. Only the top 16 players in snooker receive the same treatment as the top 32 darts players, who are good enough to enter the world championship's final rounds.

The fairness of other sporting competitions can also be questioned, not just the World Snooker Championship. To win the FA Cup, for instance, Lancaster City football club would need to win 13 games, whereas Manchester United would need to win just six. This is due to the fact that other clubs enter the competition before the top clubs, who only enter in the third round.

There are representatives from each continent in the finals thanks to the intricate qualification procedures for the World Cup of football. As a result, however, some nations that arguably merit a spot in the finals due to their superior abilities will inevitably be left out.

More stringent regulations apply to other sports. There are two competitions where the reigning champion automatically advances to the final: the America's Cup (sailing) and the World Chess Championship.

Many tournaments place or "seed" the top ranked players in different halves of the draw after the field of competitors has been determined. The top two seeds can only face each other in the championship matchup, which is done to ensure that the best players only clash in the competition's later rounds.

Some competitions take things a step further; the World Cup of football is a good illustration. Group matches precede the knockout rounds once you make it to the finals. The best teams are seeded into various groups, but the precise process of allocating teams to groups is quite complex; you can get a sense of how complex it is by watching the first 45 seconds of this video.

For a player, missing out on the world finals due to low ranking must be incredibly frustrating because in another sport, they would have been automatically qualified.

Each sport's governing body has undoubtedly spent a lot of time figuring out the best way to manage their premier competition. However, it begs the question of whether there is a single, ideal method for selecting the winners a method that maximizes earnings and viewer enjoyment while also making the contestants feel fairly compensated.

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