Best Snooker Players of All Time

Snooker Referee Rearranging the Pink Ball on the Table

In the following article, we have carefully prepared for you, you will find the best snooker players who ever played the game, not the top snooker players of our current age.

Yes, most players mentioned below are still active and present in both charts, too, but our attention here is focused on the people who made the sport what it is today.

Top 10 Best Snooker Players in the World – Chart & Facts

Before we start examining the list of the best snooker players in the world, we decided it would be a great idea to show them to you first and provide links to their biographies.

That is in case you are already familiar with some of them and want to turn more attention to the rest of the legends in the sport of snooker.

Each of these players could be called an “ambassador of snooker” because they all contributed to its popularisation. All of the top 10 snooker players of all time have reached different pinnacles in the sport, considered impossible by many before them.

Most of these professional players are still active, and you can find them participating in every reputable international event featured on the best online betting sites for Snooker in the United Kingdom.

Keep reading to learn about their personal information, professional achievements and other interesting facts from their past and future that you would like to find as a fan of Snooker.

1. Ronnie O’Sullivan – The Legend of Snooker

📛 Full name:
Ronald Antonio O’Sullivan

✔️ Active:
Yes

📅 Date of Birth:
5/12/1975

👴🏻 Age:
47

🌍 Nationality:
English

🏆 World Championship Wins:
7

⭐ All Ranking Titles:
39

Ronnie O’Sullivan is considered the best snooker player ever because his achievements surpass any other player’s in the sport’s history. He was born in England in 1975 and had quite a troublesome childhood.

His mother and father were convicted for different crimes, and he was supposed to care for his little sister. He started his amateur career at 9, while his first significant win was when he was 13 years old – the British Under 16 Championship.

Between 13 and 17, he showed a never-seen potential; soon enough, all of his efforts paid off. A few days before he turned 18, he won the 1993 UK Championship for the first time and became the youngest pro player in the history of snooker.

He became famous for his drug issues and severe depression over the years, but that was nothing that he couldn’t overcome. His career had many ups and downs, but that didn’t stop him from becoming the best snooker player of all time.

He holds so many records, so we don’t see how someone can surpass him any time soon. He won the World Championship, the UK Championship, and the Master’s Championship seven times each.

His winning streak includes many more competitions worldwide, like the Irish, Scottish, Hong Kong, and Shanghai Masters several times each, plus many other championships. Nowadays, he holds 39 professional titles, more than any other player.

He also became the oldest snooker player in history to win the World Championship of snooker and a proud member of the Order of the British Empire in 2018. There is no other player like Ronnie O’Sullivan, that is for sure.

Because we can’t explain the biography and achievement of Ronnie O’Sullivan with a few words, that is why we suggest you him complete biography.

2. Stephen Hendry – The Scottish King of Snooker

📛 Full name:
Stephen Gordon Hendry

✔️ Active:
Yes

📅 Date of Birth:
13/01/1969

👴🏻 Age:
54

🌍 Nationality:
Scottish

🏆 World Championship Wins:
7

⭐ All Ranking Titles:
36

Stephen Hendry is another legend of snooker that has its place among the top 10 snooker players of all time. He dominated the sports in the 1990s and retired in 2012, but recently (in 2021), he returned to the pro leagues.

Stephen was born in 1969 in South Queensferry, Scotland. At 14, he won his first amateur championship – the Scottish Under 16. A year later, he became the youngest winner of the Scottish Amateur Championship.

A year later, at 16, he entered the pro leagues. The same year, he won the Scottish Professional Championship for the first time and qualified for the World Championship.

At that time, he was the youngest player ever to attend that competition. Until 1989, he was a three-time winner of the Scottish Pro Championship and a one-time winner of the Masters.

Most of his achievements in the 1990s put him on a pedestal and won him second place on the list of best snooker players. He literally dominated the World Championship that decade.

We won the title seven times, in 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1999. Of course, he reached the final several more times before retirement in 2012 but never won another one.

These are not his only achievements. In total, he has 36 professional titles. Some of the most relevant ones are five UK championships, several British Opens, four Grand Prix, three European Opens, one Malta Cup and more.

We didn’t even mention the many Masters wins (six times) and the rest of the Australian, Hong Kong, Irish and London Masters that he has won over the years.

Since his return in 2021, he competed several times in large tournaments like the World Snooker Tour, the World Championship, Gibraltar Open, German and European Master and more. Still, he was not able to win any prizes.

We hope that in the following years, we will see a match between the two titans of Snooker, him and Ronnie O’Sullivan. One thing is guaranteed – it will be an epic battle.

3. Steve Davis – The Snooker Legend of the 80s

📛 Full name:
Steve Davis

✔️ Active:
No

📅 Date of Birth:
22/09/1957

👴🏻 Age:
66

🌍 Nationality:
English

🏆 World Championship Wins:
6

⭐ All Ranking Titles:
28

Steve Davis is another English player who made many miracles with his snooker cue. He became famous in the early 1980s by winning the World Championship six times in that decade.

He was born in 1957 in London. His father showed him how to play snooker at the age of 12 while they were spending time in the local working men’s club.

Steve learned a lot from the books of another legend that we will later overview in this chart of the best snooker players ever – Joe Davis. When he was 18, he started playing for money against different people in the Lucania snooker halls.

His first noticeable win was in 1976 – the English Under-19 Billiards Championship. Two years later, in 1978, he was accepted as a snooker pro player and became the youngest player ever to play the game (at least at that time).

His debut in the World Championship was in 1979, but he lost against Dennis Taylor and fell out of the competition. He almost won the championship in 1980, but Alex Higgins stopped him at the semi-finals.

That year, he won his first significant title – the UK snooker Championship, which marked the beginning of a long winning streak. Between 1980 and 1990, he took six World Championship titles in 1981, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988, and 1989.

In between them, he won the UK Championship several times, the Grand Prix, the Irish Masters, other Masters tournaments, and more. In the following decade, he won several other titles but could never acquire another world one.

Steve Davis continued playing until 2016, when he finally retired. His spotless reputation brought him a total winning score of 28 professional titles. Like many of the top 10 snooker players of all time, he is considered an ambassador of snooker.

That is because of his contribution and many professional wins that made the sport more popular in the UK and globally. Now it’s time to get familiar with one of his slightly older rivals – Alex Higgins.

4. Alex Higgins – Founder of Modern Snooker

📛 Full name:
Alexander Gordon Higgins

✔️ Active:
No

📅 Date of Birth:
18/03/1949

👴🏻 Age:
Deceased

🌍 Nationality:
Irish

🏆 World Championship Wins:
2

⭐ All Ranking Titles:
1

Alex Higgins is one of the first prevalent snooker players who brought the game to a broader audience. He doesn’t have that many titles because there were not many tournaments and championships at his time.

Plus, the World Championship was not considered a ranking event for the first time in 1974. However, we will start with short information about his background and origin.

Alexander Higgins was born in 1949 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His family lived near the Jam Pot, a billiard and snooker hall. This is the place where he started playing the game when he was only ten years old.

As a teenager, he wanted to become a horse racing jockey, but he gained some weight and became unfit for that occupation. This was when he realised that snooker could be a way to make money.

In 1967, he joined the snooker league of the Mountpottinger YMCA, where he overcame his weaknesses and became an outstanding player. A year later, he felt ready to try his luck at the Northern Ireland Amateur Snooker Championship.

He won the tournament and became the youngest winner of the contest at the age of 18. In the following year, he participated again, but luck was not on his side this time, and he lost and fell out of the competition.

Snooker Referee Rearranging the Pink Ball on the Table

To pursue a pro career in the sport, he moved to England. His talent was recognised by the tycoon John McLaughlin, who helped him get on his feet and continue chasing his dream of becoming a pro-snooker player.

In 1972, he felt confident enough to try his luck at the World Championship for the first time and even win it. A year later, in 1973, he debuted at the Pot Black tournament but lost his first game.

His next significant memorable match was at the final of the World Championship in 1976 against the legendary Ray Reardon, but he could not win the game. In 1980, Higgins lost another finale against Cliff Thorburn.

Finally, in 1982, he won the World Championship a second time by beating Reardon. We missed to mention that he was able to win the Masters competition in 1978 and 1981. His last significant win was in 1989 in the Irish Masters Championship.

He continued playing, but in 1994, it became evident that he had cancer and underwent two surgeries in 1994 and 1996. From then on, his health started slowly withdrawing until his death in 2010.

A Player Getting Ready to Hit the Ball

Alex Higgins won nearly £4 million for his entire career and became the founder of the game of snooker that we know nowadays. This is why he is ranked fourth on this chart among the best snooker players ever.

5. John Higgins – The Wizard of Wishaw

📛 Full name:
John Higgins

✔️ Active:
Yes

📅 Date of Birth:
18/05/1975

👴🏻 Age:
48

🌍 Nationality:
Scottish

🏆 World Championship Wins:
4

⭐ All Ranking Titles:
31

Known as the Wizard of Wishaw, John Higgins is a professional Scottish snooker player who is still active and still among the best snooker players in the world.

Before we continue any further, we would like to underline that he is not related to the legend Alex Higgins that we just overviewed, but he is no less a player than him.

He was born in 1975 in Wishaw, Scotland, which is the reason for his nickname. Unfortunately, there is not much information about his childhood and personal life. Therefore, we will continue with his professional career and how he became one of the top snooker players.

John Higgins became more famous in 1992 when he reached the quarter-finals of the British Open competition. His first more prominent win was when he was 19 on the Grand Prix. The same season, he won his first British Open title and an International Open one.

1998, he won his first World Champions, the UK Championship, and the Masters tournament at the same time. This immediately brought him to media attention, raising his net worth and confidence.

In 1999, he could not get the world title, but he won the Grand Prix. 2000, he won his second UK Championship title but lost the world title final.

2001, it was the same; he lost the world title but became the first player to win the season’s three opening tournaments – British and Scottish Opens and the Champion Cup.

The successive prominent win was against Ronnie O’Sullivan in the 2005 Grand Prix finale. The following two years were not great for John Higgins, but he returned in 2007 by winning the World Championship a second time.

Two years later, in 2009, he did it again, winning his third world title against Michael Holt. We can say that the following decade, 2010 – 2020, was very promising for Higgins, and it won him this place among the top 10 best snooker players in the world.

He won only one World Championship in 2011, but four Welsh Opens, one Indian Open, one Australian Goldfields Open, one International Championship and several more reputable competitions worldwide.

Since 2020, he acquired one more Masters title in 2021 but lost the rest of the contests. The most dramatic loss was in the World Championship semi-finals 2022 against O’Sullivan.

We are waiting to see what the future will bring for John Higgins and if he can rise again and move up into the ranks of the list of the best snooker players in the world.

6. Joe Davis – The Undisputed Father of Snooker

📛 Full name:
Joseph Davis

✔️ Active:
No

📅 Date of Birth:
15/04/1901

👴🏻 Age:
Deceased

🌍 Nationality:
English

🏆 World Championship Wins:
15

⭐ All Ranking Titles:
24

Joe Davis is one of the first legends of the sport since its establishment in 1875. His era was long before the foundation of the world ranking and all the many events we have today.

In the 1910s, snooker was mainly played among billiard players in the UK as a fun amateur game. In 1927, the first Professional Snooker Championship occurred in London, where everything started.

Joe was born in 1901 in a big family with six children. He was only eleven when he started playing billiards and decided to pursue a professional career.

His first win in the sport was two years later. When he was 13, Joe won the District Amateur Billiard Championship, but his pro career started six years later when he was already 18 years old.

The first significant achievement was in February 1920 when he beat Albert Raynor. By the end of that year, Davis was holding the highest recorded break in billiards – 468. By 1926, he was already a proven pro player with a decent winning score.

In the same period, snooker started gaining more popularity across the United Kingdom, and the interest towards the sport led to the foundation of the first World Championship in 1927.

Joe Davis was the first champion of this game, who owned the first place for the first 15 consecutive years, from 1927 to 1940. The 15th event was held after the end of the war, in 1946.

Davis retired from the sport after the World Championship in 1946. Up to this date, he is the only personal among the best snooker players in history who was able to hold one title for 20 years in a row.

Snooker Player Getting Ready to Hit a Red Ball

We shall not miss to tell you that he also won the English Billiard Championship in 1928, 1929, 1930, and 1932, and for all of his achievements, he became part of the Order of the British Empire in 1963 as a gratitude for his contribution.

7. Jimmy White – The Most Fluid Snooker Style

📛 Full name:
James Warren White

✔️ Active:
Yes

📅 Date of Birth:
02/05/1962

👴🏻 Age:
61

🌍 Nationality:
English

🏆 World Championship Wins:
0

⭐ All Ranking Titles:
10

Jimmy White is one of the top snooker players, which we consider a bit unlucky because he has impressive skills and a proper playing style, but he could not win any World Championships.

Let’s start with a bit of a background, and then we will explain why he deserves a place among the best snooker players of all time and what is so special about him.

James White, also known as “the Whirlwind”, is an English pro snooker player born in London in 1962. Even as a kid, he spends most of his time in the snooker hall of Ted Zanoncelli’s.

His first amateur win was in 1979 when he took first place at the English Amateur Championship. A year later, he became the youngest winner of the World Amateur Snooker Championship, he was only 18 at the time.

Two years later, he had already established himself as a professional Snooker player but lost his first match at the 1981 World Championship against Steve Davis. Still, he acquired the Scottish Masters title the same year.

In 1982, he again lost his chance at the World Championship by losing to Alex Higgins. In 1984, he won his first Masters title but lost the final of the world competition again.

Between 1985 and 1990, he won his second Masters tournament and first Grand Prix and Irish Masters. 1987 was a bad year because we lost the British Open, the UK, and the World Championship.

Generally, 1988 was good for him, but he missed his chance at the semi-final of the World Championship. The same happened the following year when he lost the quarter-finals against John Virgo.

All this didn’t discourage him because he won many other competitions in the following decade of 1990-2000, like the World Masters in 1991, the European League in 1993, and the Scottish Masters in 2000.

The older he gets, the better his game becomes. The most successful period of his career was between 2009 and 2020 when he won three times the World Seniors Championship, the UK Seniors Championship, the Seniors Irish Masters and several more reputable contests.

The truth is that in the last two decades, he has concentrated more on non-ranking tournaments and senior ones. Despite that, he is a great player with tons of skills. He is known as the player with the most fluid playing style.

Over his career, he faced some of the best snooker players of all time, but didn’t have enough luck to beat them and take more significant ranking titles like the World Championship.

He reached the World’s Championship finale six times but lost all of them. Four against Stephen Hendry, one against Steve David and one against John Parrot. We can’t say he has no skills, so it must be luck.

8. Mark Selby – The Jester from Leicester

📛 Full name:
Mark Anthony Selby

✔️ Active:
Yes

📅 Date of Birth:
19/06/1983

👴🏻 Age:
40

🌍 Nationality:
English

🏆 World Championship Wins:
4

⭐ All Ranking Titles:
22

Mark Selby is another snooker legend born in England. He is still active and among the biggest contenders for the world’s most prestigious titles. He has won four World Championships and 22 ranking events, which places him among the best snooker players ever.

His journey began in 1983 in Leicester, where he was born and where his career started. At the age of eight, he was already into billiards, and a year later, he started playing snooker with his brother.

Mark Selby’s childhood was not easy because his mother abandoned him, and later on, when he was 16, his father passed away because of cancer. The person that helped him develop as a pro snooker player was Malcolm Thorne.

Malcolm is the brother of the famous snooker player Willie Thorne. He took Mark and his brother under his wing, started training them before the death of their father, and helped them through their difficulties.

Mark’s first noticeable win was in England’s Under-15 Championship in 1998. A year later, in 1999, he started his professional career. He reached several semi-finals and finals in the following years but never scored a win.

Despite that, his overall performance qualified him for the World Championships in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. After the finale of 2007, Alex Higgins told the public that he considers Mark the fastest-improving player on the tour.

We can say that the objective prosperity in Selby’s career started in the following decade, 2010 – 2020. In 2011, he won the Shanghai Open, and in 2012, he took his first UK Championship title, proving that hard work always pays out.

The actual rise of Mark Selby started in 2014 when he finally won his first World Championship against the best Snooker player in the history of the sport – Ronnie O’Sullivan.

From that moment onwards, he took that confidence and grew significantly as a pro player. Between 2015 and 2020, his achievements won him a place among the top 10 snooker players of all time.

In 2015, he won the China and German Opens. In 2016, he beat O’Sullivan for a second time in the World Championship finale. That’s not all, he won four other international ranking events that year.

In 2017, he eliminated John Higgins in the World Championships finale and secured his third title. That year and the following, he won the China Open tournament, including other competitions.

In 2019 and 2020, Mark won twice the Scottish Open, once the English and once the European Masters contest. Then, in 2021, he won the World Championship for the 4th time in his career.

As you can see, he has been a beast in the last few years, and we expect him to achieve much more in the following decade. He is moving up in the ranks of the top snooker players, and we don’t expect him to stop.

Maybe he will become the next Ronnie O’Sullivan or even better; who knows? We don’t see Mark Selby stepping off the top charts in the following years, and we are impatient to see how his career will develop in the near future.

9. Ray Reardon – Dracula of Snooker

📛 Full name:
Raymond Reardon

✔️ Active:
No

📅 Date of Birth:
08/10/1932

👴🏻 Age:
90

🌍 Nationality:
Welsh

🏆 World Championship Wins:
6

⭐ All Ranking Titles:
7

Ray Readon is a Welsh pro-snooker player who became famous in the ’70s and retired in the ’90s. For over 20 years as a pro player, he has won the World Championship six times, together with many other non-ranking competitions.

Ray was born in 1932 in the Welsh city of Tredegar. His uncle introduced him to snooker when he was only eight years old. At ten, he was already practising twice a week in the local worksmen club.

As a kid, he preferred billiards more than snooker, but he never considered sports a livelihood. Therefore, he became a miner in the local iron and coal company called Ty Trist Colliery.

At 28, he quit the mining business and moved to Stock-on-Trent to become a police officer. Meanwhile, he was playing snooker mainly for fun in the different amateur leagues around the country.

He decided to switch to pro snooker in 1967. It took him two years to win his place in the World Championship, but he lost the quarter-final against Fred Davis. In the following 1970, he won the title for the first time.

1972, Ray lost the quarter-final, but that was for the last time. In the following four years, between 1973 and 1976, he was the world’s undisputed champion. 1977, he lost it, but in 1978, he won it for the last time in his career.

Of course, these are not his only achievements. Between 1970 and 1980, he won several Pot Black tournaments, Masters, Pontins Professional, Welsh Professional Championship, Golden Masters, and others.

1979 and 1980 were not good years because most of the time, he could reach the finals of each tournament he played in but lost most of them. The truth is that after 1980, his career started withdrawing.

In the last decade before his retirement in 1991, he faced many top snooker players like Alex Higgins, Steve David, John Virgo, and Jimmy White, but luck was not on his side.

All Coloured Snooker Balls Lined Up

He tried to return to the game on the World Seniors Masters in 2000 but without success. He will be remembered for his nickname Dracula and many great games against some of the best players in the history of snooker.

10. Dennis Taylor – The Underrated Irishman

📛 Full name:
Dennis Taylor

✔️ Active:
No

📅 Date of Birth:
19/01/1949

👴🏻 Age:
74

🌍 Nationality:
Irish

🏆 World Championship Wins:
1

⭐ All Ranking Titles:
2

Dennis Taylor is the 10th on our list of the best snooker players ever. He doesn’t have many titles and achievements, but he is still quite a famous and respected player and commentator.

Dennis was born in 1949 in Coalisland, Northern Ireland. None of his relatives are involved with snooker or play the sport like many of the top 10 best snooker players in the world we mentioned so far.

At 18, he won his first amateur title in the British Junior Billiards Championship in 1968. Shortly after 1972, he officially became a pro player and debuted in the World Snooker Championship in 1973.

He fell out of the competition after the first round after a loss to Cliff Thorburn. In the following years, he became way better and reached the semi-finals in 1975 and 1984 and the finals in 1979.

Yes, but he could not take the world title until 1985 when he defeated Steve Davis. Many fans of the sport call this match one of the best and most interesting ones in history.

Unfortunately, that is his only world title. Of course, he has a few more ranking ones, like the Grand Prix in 1984 and plenty of non-ranking like the Irish Professional Championship, Canadian, Australian and Tokyo Masters.

In 2000, he retired from the professional sport and became a snooker commentator, but he also continues competing in the senior leagues occasionally. 2021, he announced that the World Senior Championship would be his last.

In 2022, BBC removed him from the commentator’s chair, but it never became public knowledge of why they set apart. Dennis Taylor is among the best snooker players of all time because of his contribution to the sport as a player and commentator.

FAQ

You probably have additional inquiries after this lengthy article on the top 10 best Snooker players ever. For your convenience, we have collected the most frequently asked questions and put them below for you. In each answer, there is a link; use it to explore more info on the subject.

1️⃣ Who are the top 10 best snooker players in the world?

The answer depends on the criteria used to score them. The world’s top 10 best snooker players are stipulated based on their overall performance and contribution to the sport. Some of the players listed on our page have fewer titles than others, but they helped popularise the sport more.

2️⃣ Who is the best snooker player of all time?

At the moment, the best snooker player of all time is Ronnie O’Sullivan. He holds 39 ranking titles and another 36 non-ranking ones. He is the only player in the history of snooker with seven titles in the three most reputable tournaments – the World Championship, the UK Championship, and the Master’s Championship.

3️⃣ Who is the first famous snooker player in history?

The first famous snooker player in history is Joseph Davis. He is the first champion of the World Snooker Championship and the only person who holds 15 consecutive titles. The tournament was established in 1927, and Joe Davis won it each time between 1927 and 1946, but the competition was paused in 1941-1945 because of WW2.

4️⃣ Who is the second-best snooker player ever?

The biggest rival of Ronnie O’Sullivan is Stephen Hendry, who holds 36 ranking titles and 39 non-ranking ones. He retired in 2012 but returned to the professional sport in 2020. He is the player that is considered the second-best snooker player in the world right now. It is interesting to see if they will switch places any time soon.

5️⃣ Who is the future best snooker player?

It is hard to tell because many great players have excellent statistics. However, one of the potential future best snooker players is Mark Selby. He is currently in the middle of his career, but he has shown massive potential in the last decade, so we expect him to move up to the list of the best snooker players of all time.

Author: Gary Simmons