In a world dominated by sports like soccer and basketball, snooker has been recognised as a "game for gentlemen", and hardly anyone can argue about the classiness that follows it. Over the recent years, snooker's popularity is mainly increasing outside of European borders, slowly making it a worthy rival to other sports out there.
Considering that snooker tournaments broadcasts have been witnessing a massive growth of viewership numbers, we decided to give your snooker knowledge a boost and introduce you to some of the best snooker players in the world.
One of the names that do not require special introduction is a legend himself – Mark Shelby. The Englishman is something like royalty in the snooker world and is fairly recognised as one of the greatest players to ever use the pole.
After winning multiple national tournaments at only 15 years of age, Mark was considered to be a real snooker prodigy. Some say that his talent remains unparalleled after all these years.
Just one year later, in 1999, when Mark was only 16 years old, he decided that the biggest passion of his life was snooker and has been following it to this day. With over 20 ranking tournaments next to his name, Shelby is currently at the top of the snooker players' hierarchy and judging by his form, and it seems he isn't going anywhere for a long time.
Aside from his playing qualities, which will also be discussed, what makes Ken Doherty special is his ability to market himself, proving that snooker is an intelligent man's game. Through a fantastic job done as a player, snooker commentator, and radio host, Ken was able to cement himself as one of the most recognisable names in the snooker world.
The 52-year old Irishman has been actively playing snooker since his teenage years, and even back then, it was more than obvious Ken was a rarely seen talent. After winning the Irish Amateur Championship two times, it was just a matter of time before he would turn pro, which he did back in 1990.
Since the beginning of Ken’s professional career, he was able to capture a total of 6 ranking tournaments, one of them being the World Snooker Championship back in 1997, after his legendary performance over Stephen Hendry.
For more than a decade, Ken Doherty has been balancing between playing and commentating careers, and he can proudly say he found success in both.
One of the most achieved players on the list is an Australian snooker player Neil Robertson, a former best player in the world and the only Australian who managed to win a ranking tournament. Also, he is the only player whose origins are not from the UK to win a Triple Crown. By winning an astonishing number of 22 titles at only 40 years of age, he is one of the biggest superstars snooker has to offer. Comparing the number of his championships to other sports would give us enough confidence to call him the Michael Jordan of snooker.
Besides winning so many tournaments, Neil also has a couple more impressive achievements – he is one of the four players ever to pass the famous 800-century mark, alongside the greats like Judd Trump, John Higgins, and Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Although Neil’s career is already something to brag about, there are still big things waiting for him in the future. The recent interviews with him reveal that the hunger and motivation are still there, and he is focused on getting back to the top.
The youngest player on the list is Zhao Xintong, a 24-year-old player coming from China who has already established himself as one of the most promising talents. The previous year was phenomenal for Zhao since he was able to win the first ranking event of his career by beating Luca Brecel.
In addition to that win, it was his first time to break into the top 16 global list, thus gaining the right to play at the first Masters' competition of his career as well. Within the two months after that, Zhao was able to capture his second ranking event by dominating Yan Bingtao in the finals.
There were only three men in snooker history to capture a two-session ranking event without allowing a single frame – Neil Robertson, Steve Davis, and as from German Masters 2022 finals – Zhao Xintong.
The year 2022 has only begun, and there are many more titles Zhao could add to his list of achievements before the next New Years' Eve. If he continues to play like this, we will be having a new world's best player within a couple of years.
John Higgins, also known as "The Wizard of Wishaw", is one of the best Scottish snooker players globally, with almost 30 years of professional experience. The former number one player in the world is also the second player with 12 maximum competitive breaks, Ronnie O'Sullivan being the first with 15.
One of the biggest critics that Higgins faced during his career was his lack of consistency, but he makes up for that by winning in a big fashion every time he captured the tournament.
The betting-fixing controversies are also something that cast him in the shade during a period of his career. Still, Higgins was proven innocent of the claims and proved his quality to the world by participating in three straight finals from 2017 to 2019.
John does not like talking about these negative circumstances and chooses to discuss his other interests and philanthropic activities during interviews. After all, it’s John’s achievements that speak for themselves, so he doesn’t have to.
Last but not least, the final spot on our list belongs to the “Welsh Potting Machine” – Mark Williams. During his 30-year career, Mark was able to accomplish plenty of amazing things in the world of snooker, and at the age of 46, holding the number 8 spot in the world is nothing less than impressive.
The former number one player in the world is also a snooker Triple Crown holder, and on top of that is one of the only three players in the world who managed to win three Triple Crowns in a single year.
The list of Mark’s impressive stats doesn’t end there – he is the only left-handed snooker player that won World Championship alongside his other 23 titles. The total number of his titles grants him spot number 5 on the all-time list.
It would take the whole page just to list the names of Mark's spectacular achievements. In 30 years of playing, he has given a lot to the snooker community and made Wales proud of him. It is yet to be seen if he could claim a higher spot on the world's list in the future, but he has already earned himself a status of legend nonetheless.