Top 5 Ranked Men's Snooker Players Of All Time

top 5 ranked mens snooker players of all time

Who are the best men's snooker players of all time?

  1. Ronnie O'Sullivan
  2. Stephen Hendry
  3. Steve Davis
  4. Alex Higgins
  5. Mark Williams

1. Ronnie O'Sullivan

  • Sullivan has won 19 of snooker's Triple Crown events, more than any person to ever play the sport.
  • Over the course of his career, he has achieved a record-shattering 1000 century breaks.
  • In 1997, Sullivan broke the record for the fastest maximum break ever achieved. He still holds this record, as well as the record for most maximum breaks achieved in a single career.
  • He and Stephen Hendry are tied for the highest number of ranked titles under their belt. They each snagged 36 of these.
  • Sullivan, at age 17, became the youngest player of all time to reach rank number one in a championship tournament.

There is little doubt among the snooker community that Ronnie O'Sullivan is one of the greatest players ever to have graced the sport. Becoming one of the youngest champions ever at age 17, O'Sullivan's career in snooker is defined by milestone after milestone. His resume, play style, and dedication of the sport have all led many to rank him as the greatest snooker player of all time.

Aptly nicknamed "The Rocket," O'Sullivan became well known not only for his accolades but his uncanny wit and extremely fast-paced playing style. In a sport that is often slow, methodical, and tedious, O'Sullivan stood out amongst other players with his unique play style. His speed garnered him the record-breaking 147 break in 1997, and he has not slowed down since. Recently, Ronnie competed in the 2018 UK championships, where he won his record 7th UK title. He also made an appearance in the 2019 Tour Championship, at which he achieved his 36th title as well as his 1000th century break.

O'Sullivan has often responded to the press when asked how he feels about his career and how he attained such elite status among the snooker community. He cites his emotional investment in the sport as a key contributing factor to his success, stating that "the biggest love of my life is my snooker." O'Sullivan shows no signs of stopping the sport anytime soon, and remains a tournament favourite throughout the snooker seasons.

2. Stephen Hendry

  • Hendry became the youngest amatuer champion in history, winning the Scottish amateurs at age 15.
  • He held the number one ranking from 1990 to 1998, a record breaking 8 years.
  • Stephen was the first player in history to score three maximum breaks in tournaments, as well as to score 16 century breaks in a single championship.
  • Tied with Ronnie O'Sullivan, Hendry has a combined total of 36 ranked titles. The two have more than any other player in the sport.
  • In the 1990's, Stephen won a record breaking total of seven world titles.

More of a veteran of the sport than Ronnie, and certainly equally as impressive of a competitor, Stephen Henry takes the number two spot on this list. A native of Scotland, Henry became the youngest amatuer in snooker history at only 15. Since then, he has claimed 36 ranked titles, tying the all time record with O'Sullivan. Although he is retired today, his snooker legacy is befitting of a true champion of the sport.

Henry's dominant streak in the 1990s is, to some, the greatest series of wins in the history of the sport. Between 1990 and 1998, Henry made a name for himself as he held onto the number one ranking for eight consecutive years, more than any other player in history up until that point. During this time he also claimed seven world titles, cementing his legacy into snooker history.

While many will propose that Henry fails to qualify as one of the greats due to his rapid decline in victories, as well as his abrupt retirement from the sport following the 2012 championships, his impact on the sport and countless achievements speak volumes over his recent failures. That is why Stephen Henry is the second best snooker player of all time.

3. Steve Davis

  • Similar to Henry, Davis held on to 7 number one rankings throughout the 1980s.
  • Despite a loss in the 1985 world championships, Henry still managed to hang on to the number one rank.
  • In 1988, Davis achieved the only whitewash final in the history of the Snooker Masters Championship Tournament, beating his opponent 10 to 0.
  • During his dominant years, Davis became the first snooker player to become a millionaire.
  • Still dominating later in his career, Steve became the oldest player in history to win a match at the 2010 World Championship.

Nicknamed "Nugget," Steve Davis, like so many others on this list, became a snooker legend due to his fiery career. If O'Sullivan dominated the sport in the 2000s, and Henry dominated throughout the 1990s, then Davis was the champion of the 1980s. Losing the record to Henry in the 1990s, Davis held a record shattering seven years at first rank during his golden years. He too is retired today, but still proved to be a force within the sport for many decades after his reign, landing him at number three on our list.

The first true millionaire of the sport, Henry has a string of notable accomplishments under his belt. He became the first competitor in the sport's history to have a whitewash final, obliterating his opponent in a blowout 10-0 frame. Additionally, Davis became the oldest player in history to qualify for, and then subsequently win, a match in a world championship tournament. Even for his age, Davis showed how much competitive fight he still had in him in the later years of his play, comfortably earning him the title of third best snooker player of all time.

4. Alex Higgins

  • Higgins defeated Davis in the 1983 World Championship, garnering him immense fame.
  • In 1972, he defeated his own mentor at the World Championships, giving him household name recognition.
  • Over the course of his career, Higgins garnered 20 ranked titles,including two world champion titles.
  • He is one of only 11 players in history to win Snooker's "Triple Crown" events.
  • His charisma and charm helped propel the popularity of televised snooker, thus garnering him the title of "people's champion."

Alex Higgins was one of snooker's most profoundly impactful players. His titles span 20 tournaments, and his matches have often been deemed as legendary. Notably, he has been touted as the greatest comeback story in snooker history, climbing back from a near loss deficit against Steve Davis in the 1983 World Championship to eventually take the first place prize. Fast, charismatic, and legendary, Higgin's easily earns this spot on our list.

For his fast and aggressive playstyle, Higgins earned the nickname "Hurricane Higgins." This made him the perfect player for the beginning of televised snooker matches, as audiences took on a strong following to him. Starting out in Northern Ireland, Higgins was propelled into fame starting in the 1970s with a win over former mentor John Spencer. Although he passed away in 2010, Higgins will be remembered fondly for the charm and skill he brought to the sport.

5. Mark Williams

  • In the early 2000s, Mark held the number one rank for four years.
  • Mark has made appearances in 46 professional finals.
  • Williams is the fourth player in snooker history to win three ranked titles over the course of a single season.
  • As of 2019, he is the 3rd best ranked snooker player in the world.
  • He came into the new millenia firing from all cylinders, as he took home his first world title in 2000.

A worthy competitor to Ronnie O'Sullivan's reign in the 2000s, Mark Williams has made a name for himself over the years and currently holds the 3rd highest rank in all of snooker. After achieving his first world champion title in 2000, Williams would go on to join the likes of Henry, Davis, and others with his immaculate potting skills.

Williams first gained traction in the mid 1990s when he turned pro, and he would go on to gain the number one rank in 2000. Since then, he has appeared in over 40 professional final events, and still continues to play to this day. Noted as being one of the best potters in the game, Williams sits comfortably among snooker elites. Recently, in 2011, he achieved a whopping four century breaks in a single tournament, asserting just how viable of a competitor he has remained.