David Caulfield is founder of SnookerHQ.com. You can find him on X.


A guaranteed way to get any sports fan riled up is with a top 10 best players list, and snooker is no different.

No matter how good the criteria is, everyone will have personal preferences on who should be included and in what order.

The number of World Championship triumphs is usually a key yardstick to rely on in snooker, but it is by no means the only one.

Joe Davis was a pioneer of the game – winning the first 15 World Championships either side of the Second World War – while Ray Reardon was a six-time world champion during the 1970s.

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Alex Higgins then spearheaded snooker into the modern era with a swashbuckling style and his legacy within the sport is unquestioned.

But the height of their respective successes occurred in vastly different eras when elite competition was more limited.

Whether they would live with today's current crop of snooker stars, who are generally regarded as the toughest in terms of their overall level of play, is debatable.

The number of professional titles won, highest ranking positions, and overall longevity at the very top of the game are other important considerations.

RadioTimes.com ranks the 10 best snooker players of all time.

Best snooker players of all time ranked

10. Jimmy White

Jimmy White edges out Chinese legend Ding Junhui in a photo finish. A six-time World Championship runner-up, White would probably be higher up this list had one or two of those finals in Sheffield gone his way. During a rollercoaster career in which he became arguably the most popular player of them all, the former world no.2 won 10 ranking titles and countless other invitationals, including the Masters in 1984 and the World Matchplay twice.

9. Shaun Murphy

What separates Shaun Murphy from Jimmy White and Ding Junhui is his World Championship triumph in 2005. But that aside, the Magician has also managed to etch his name on practically all of the sport's most prestigious prizes. Success has come in the Masters, the UK Championship, the Champion of Champions, and more recently at the 2023 Tour Championship, where he produced possibly his best snooker ever.

8. Neil Robertson

For almost two decades, Neil Robertson has been one of the most consistent and prolific winners on the main tour. It's a mystery to many that he has only got his hands on the World Championship trophy once. However, the Australian has won the UK Championship three times, the Masters and Champion of Champions twice, and the former world no.1 boasts more than 20 ranking trophies in his collection overall.

7. Judd Trump

In 2023, Judd Trump became only the fifth player in snooker history to win three ranking titles in a row. By the end of his career, he will likely challenge the all-time record for career ranking victories. Hyped since he was a young boy, Trump's highs have been dizzying and he dominated the sport as its world number one between 2019 and 2021. To move up this list, though, the Bristol potter will need to add to his World Championship tally, which like Murphy and Robertson stands at just one.

6. Mark Williams

Mark Williams will have you believing otherwise, but there's no denying the Welshman's achievements in the game. A three-time world champion, Williams has won seven Triple Crown titles – the series of majors comprising the World and UK Championships in addition to the prestigious Masters. Indeed, there were periods at the start of the 2000s when Williams was unbeatable in the most important events. Still going strong, he won the British Open in 2023 at the age of 48.

5. Mark Selby

Between 2014 and 2021, Mark Selby won four out of the eight World Championships that were staged at the Crucible Theatre. A master of brinkmanship, the Leicester man has established a reputation as being one of the hardest players to beat. Sustained periods of dominance in the sport have been rare in the last couple of decades, but Selby's feat during the 2010s of ending seven seasons in a row – in what was one of the sport's most competitive eras – as the world no.1 speaks for itself.

4. John Higgins

Many would have John Higgins even higher, but he slots into fourth place in this top 10 best snooker players of all time list. The Scot has contested eight World Championship finals, winning four of them. Still going strong even as he approaches his 50s, Higgins is recognised as possessing arguably the greatest all-round game. A former world no.1 with nine Triple Crown titles, he has tallied a staggering 31 ranking trophies overall.

3. Steve Davis

With six World Championship glories, Davis dominated the 1980s during the sport's most notable era of popularity in the United Kingdom. The Nugget held the world no.1 position for most of the decade, and throughout a glittering career he amassed more than 80 professional trophies – including six UK Championships and three Masters crowns.

2. Stephen Hendry

If Davis dominated the '80s, Hendry took the game to even greater heights during the 1990s. The King of the Crucible featured in all but two World Championship finals between 1990 and 1999, capturing a modern-day record of seven titles in Sheffield. At the Masters, a tournament boasting the game's top 16 ranked players, Hendry's first five appearances ended with the trophy in his hands. Unsatisfied by just winning, Hendry wanted to destroy his opponents.

1. Ronnie O'Sullivan

It can only be one name. Any remaining lingering doubt was put to rest when the Rocket matched Hendry's seven world titles in 2022. With the most Triple Crown trophies, the most ranking titles, the most century breaks made, and unquestionably the greatest natural talent we've seen, Ronnie O'Sullivan is the best snooker player of all time. His longevity has seen him win major titles across four different decades, and in 2023 he was still ranked as snooker's world’s number one.


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