Analysis: Who are the 10 best snooker players in the world?

Analysis: Who are the 10 best snooker players in the world?

Snooker fans were among the first to enjoy a flagship event in 2021 as one of the sport’s prestigious ‘triple crown’ events – the Masters – took place in January.

Attention now turns to another: the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre in April, where the planet’s best snooker players will go head to head for the final time this season.

To mark this occasion, we’ve analysed the performance of every player currently in the top 20 of the snooker world rankings at triple crown events – the aforementioned Masters and World Championship, plus the UK Championship – and ranked the 10 most successful.

We’ve graded players based on how frequently their entries into one of these three tournaments has seen them reach at least the quarter-final stage.

The Class of 92 still rule

Football isn’t the only sport to have been dominated by a ‘class of 1992’, and snooker’s own intake that year have been even more successful.

The record of Ronnie O’Sullivan at triple crown events comfortably exceeds that of any other player in our top 10, with ‘the Rocket’ having reached at least the quarter-final stage in more than two-thirds of his 86 attempts.

Almost half of those in turn have seen him reach the final and his 20 wins to date equate to a success rate just shy of one in four.

O’Sullivan turned professional in 1992, as did the runner-up on our list John Higgins, who almost claimed his 10th triple crown title at this year’s Masters but fell at the final hurdle.

Higgins still stands as the only other player ranked among the top 20 in the world who has reached the last eight in at least half of his triple crown entries; exactly half as it happens.

Down in fifth place with 32 quarter-final appearances and seven trophies lifted we find the third member of the ‘class of 92’, who like the other two has competed in 86 triple crown tournaments. Mark Williams is the least successful of the three, but to have three of the five most successful players all starting out in the same year is still highly unusual.

Young blood

While age is clearly no barrier to competing at the highest level of world snooker, there are some younger players who could threaten the established order.

Neil Robertson began his professional career six years later in 1998 but won this season’s UK Championship and sits second in the latest world rankings.

The Australian is also third in our top 10 with 25 quarter-final appearances from a possible 65, albeit with his latest triumph being only the fifth triple crown title of his career.

Younger still is China’s Ding Junhui, who is considered by many to be Asia’s most successful snooker player in history despite still being just 33.

Ding has already topped the world rankings twice and his performance in triple crown events places him seventh on our list of the best snooker players with a better than one-in-three record of reaching the quarter-final stage and four trophies to his name.

Current world number one Judd Trump is two years younger still and currently tops the world rankings despite having to withdraw from the recent Masters after testing positive for COVID-19. The Englishman has been a professional player since the tender age of 16 and was still just 23 when he first ranked as world number one.

If he is to eclipse the legendary O’Sullivan though, he needs to work on his consistency in major tournaments with just 15 triple crown quarter-finals and three wins from a possible 47 in his impressive career so far.

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