Matt names his all-time top ten snooker players (with a couple extra).
For my column this month I’ve been asked to name my top ten snooker players of all time. I found it so hard that I had to make it a top 12, and name a few others as well! This is just my opinion and feel free to suggest your own top ten.
1. Ronnie O’Sullivan
By winning the World Championship in the last two years, Ronnie has moved to the top of my list. He can plays snooker that no one else is capable of. His performances at the Crucible in each of the last two years were incredible. At the moment he is the man to beat and he is favourite in every match he plays. Stephen Hendry has made the most century breaks but I expect Ronnie’s ratio of centuries to frames is better. He is playing as well as he ever has and I definitely think he can beat Hendry’s record of seven World titles.
2. John Higgins
He has won the World title in three different decades which is an amazing achievement. John was my favourite player when I first started watching snooker. He is a fantastic all-round player and wins a lot of titles without being at his best. His B game is good enough to take a lot of players apart. His knowledge of the game is phenomenal. He is one of the few players good enough to beat Ronnie even when Ronnie is playing well – and he has done so many times.
3. Stephen Hendry
Stephen is one of my best mates in snooker and I’m sure he’ll be gutted to be at number three on my list! I wasn’t watching snooker at the time when he was dominating the game so I can only go by the stats and the videos I have seen of him. In golf, people debate whether Tiger Woods is better than Jack Nicklaus and it’s very difficult to compare because they played in different eras. In my eyes, Tiger is the best even though he has won less majors, but perhaps that’s because I’ve watched so much of his career. Stephen has the most World titles and the most ranking titles. He had extraordinary mental strength and an aura which intimidated his opponents.
4. Steve Davis
Steve is now 72 years old but he still looks as good as ever at the table. He has superb technique and he is still winning a lot of matches. Overall he has won more titles than anyone and he has been a great ambassador for the sport. He didn’t blow opponents away with big breaks in the way that Stephen and Ronnie can, but he would keep them on the baulk cushion and score heavily when he got chances. There is no doubt about my top four, but it is hard to put them in order. Put it this way: if all four of them were in their prime now, they would constantly be the top four in the world and the order would fluctuate. They are the all-time maestros of snooker.
5. Mark Williams
At one point Mark was my favourite player. In 2002/03 the standard at the top of the game was ridiculous as Stephen, John and Ronnie were all there. Mark won the UK Championship, the Masters and the World Championship that season which is extraordinary.
6. Peter Ebdon
This is where putting players in order gets harder, but I would have Peter at number six. He has won the World Championship and the UK Championship and nine ranking titles in all. Last year he won the China Open which proved his longevity. I don’t really care what people say about him because in my view he deserves everything he has achieved and he could have won more. Believe me, he is a very talented player. I played him last year and he goes for some lunatic pots but gets a lot of them.
7. Neil Robertson
He is number one in the world and he still has a long way to go in his career. In ten years I can see him being a lot higher on this list. Neil is a born winner and already has eight ranking titles. He can win more World titles and it’s great for the game to have an overseas player doing well.
8. John Parrott
Like Ebdon, John has won the World and UK titles and a total of nine ranking events. I didn’t see him play that much but he was obviously a tremendous cueist.
9. Shaun Murphy
Shaun is another of that elite group who have won both the World and UK Championships. He has exceptional technique and showed a lot of bottle in winning at the Crucible at the age of just 22. Shaun is a good friend of mind so he won’t mind me saying that, given those attributes, he should have won more. And I have no doubt that he will win a lot more in years to come.
10. Jimmy White
Even though the World title eluded him, Jimmy still has to be in the top ten given the fact that he has won ten ranking events plus the Masters. In his prime he must have been brilliant to watch and it’s easy to see why people love him.
11. Ken Doherty
Ken is one of the cleverest players I’ve seen. He has been around for over 20 years and is still going strong, and his World title in 1997 was a great moment.
12. Mark Selby
Mark has been ranked number one for most of the past couple of years and he has also won three Masters titles.
So that’s my top 12, although I could have easily added the likes of Ding Junhui, Judd Trump and Graeme Dott. I can’t really comment on Ray Reardon, John Spencer and players before them as I just haven’t seen enough of them playing. As I said, this is all just my opinion and others might have a different view!
All the best until next time.
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