China's Ding Junhui has become only the 11th world number one since the rankings started in 1976 and the first player from Asia to achieve the feat.
Ding, 27, won a record-equalling five ranking titles last season which aided his rise to the top of the money list.
He suffered a surprise defeat in the last 32 of the UK Championship, but the early exits of Mark Selby and Neil Robertson allowed him to go first.
"It's a great achievement," World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn said.
|Snooker's 11 world number ones|
|Ray Reardon||Cliff Thorburn|
|Steve Davis||Stephen Hendry|
|John Higgins||Mark Williams|
|Ronnie O'Sullivan||Neil Robertson|
|Mark Selby||Judd Trump|
"It's a great achievement. The goal for him is out there now: can he win the World Championship and bring the crown back to China?
"The fact is, he's not world number one by luck, he has got there on performance."
Ding lost to youngster James Cahill in York last week but still jumped from third position after previous number one Selby's second-round defeat by David Morris and number two Robertson's last-16 loss to Graeme Dott.
O'Sullivan moved from fourth to third after his victory over Judd Trump in the UK Championship final.
The money list is based on a player's performance over the preceding two years, and replaced the point tariffs at the start of this season.