Sheeran's Divide album emulated Dua Lipa's score minus the breakthrough act, which he no longer qualifies for.
Meanwhile Dua Lipa, 22, has five nominations including best British female solo artist, where she will battle it out against 2015 victor Paloma Faith, rapper-poet Kate Tempest, Jessie Ware and Laura Marling.
The 22-year-old's self-titled album won the most nods, including British female solo artist, british single, album of the year, video of the year and breakthrough act.
In the best British group category, The xx face competition from Gorillaz, London Grammar, Royal Blood and Wolf Alice.
Little Mix, Clean Bandit, Jonas Blue, Calvin Harris, Rag'n'Bone Man, J Hus, Jax Jones, Liam Payne and Dua Lipa also join Ed in the British Single category.
Liam, 24, will go head-to-head with fellow 1D star Harry Styles and their former bandmate Zayn Malik in the Video Of The Year category but he insisted it is a friendly rivalry.
Taylor Swift, Pink, Lorde, Alicia Keys and Björk were all nominated for best worldwide female, with Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Childish Gambino (the stage name for Donald Glover), Beck and DJ Khaled nominated for best global male.
Arcade Fire, Foo Fighters, Haim, The Killers and LCD Soundsystem will compete for International Group. "This is where I am from so it it's extra special".
"I love solo life. There is always time for us to come back, we have that". "I don't think our kid's got it in him anymore anyway, it seems to me like he's playing to the snobs and the world and the toffs".
Noel hit number one with his latest High Flying Birds album Who Built the Moon? in November, but he sold less units than Liam during his first week, with just 78,000.
The Brit Awards will take place on 21 February at London's O2 Arena. Her single New Rules was a break out hit a year ago and she is nominated in five categories including best album, best female artist and best single.