Who Has Won The Most World Snooker Championships?
The World Snooker Championship is the oldest and most prestigious tournament in professional snooker. Winning the title and the half-million-pound first prize is the dream of pro snooker players around the world. Have you ever wondered who has won the most World Snooker Championships? Keep reading for the answer and more information on the tournament’s most dominant champions.
What snooker player has won the most World Snooker Championships?
- Joe Davis - 15
- Fred Davis - 8
- John Pulman - 8
- Stephen Hendry - 7
- Ronnie O’Sullivan - 7
Joe Davis and Snooker’s Golden Age
Joe Davis holds the all-time record for most wins at the World Snooker Championship, with an incredible 15 titles to his name. Davis is considered to be one of the godfathers of snooker. He helped organize and purchase the trophy for the first World Championship in 1927. Initially called the Professional Snooker Championship, Davis won that first tournament, then successfully defended his title for the following 14 years. Davis proved so dominant in the early tournaments that it was not until he declined to compete in the tournament in 1947 that another competitor, Walter Donaldson, was able to assume the title of world champion.
It is important to remember that Joe Davis’s record, along with those of other early snooker players, occurred during the golden age of the sport and the World Snooker Championship. In those early years, the level of competition was not as high as it is today, and the format of the tournament changed several times. Most of Davis’s wins came under a challenge-style format in which he only had to play a single match to defend his title.
Fred Davis and John Pullman
Two other snooker players had record-setting runs during the tournament’s golden era: Fred Davis (Joe’s younger brother), and John Pulman each won eight World Snooker Championships. Fred picked up where his brother left off, winning his titles between 1948 and 1956, with six in consecutive years. John Pulman won his first title in 1957. Then between 1964 and 1968, he faced seven challenge matches (three against Fred Davis), all of which he won, contributing to his record total.
For the purpose of record-keeping, the modern era of the World Snooker Championship began in 1969, when the tournament reverted for the final time to the single-elimination semi-invitational format that it still uses today. Thus, although the golden era records are impressive and worth recognizing, most snooker players, fans, and commentators care only about titles won during the modern era.
Two players share the record for winning the most World Snooker Championships in the modern era: Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan, with seven titles each.
Nicknamed “The Golden Boy,” “The Ice Man,” and “King of the Crucible,” Stephen Hendry reigned as the prevailing world champion throughout most of the 1990s. A native of Edinburgh, Scotland, Hendry was a brilliant snooker prodigy, becoming the youngest ever to win the Scottish Amateur Championship at age 15.
Hendry’s professional career took off during his exceptional 1989-90 season, during which he won the Masters, the Regal Scottish Masters, the Dubai Classic, the Asian Open, and the UK Championship. He capped off the season by winning his first World Snooker Championship in 1990, defeating Jimmy White in the final. With this victory, Hendry set another record, this one for the youngest ever to win the World Championship, as he was only 21.
From 1990 through 1996, Stephen Hendry was practically unstoppable. He won 36 consecutive matches in his 1990 season, setting a record for an unbeaten streak in snooker that still stands today. Although he lost in the quarterfinal to Steve James in 1991, Hendry returned to win the World Championship again in 1992. He then successfully defended his title every year through 1996. Hendry suffered a slump at the end of the decade, but a resurgence during his 1999 season ended in him winning his seventh and final World Snooker Championship.
Considered by many to be the greatest snooker player of all time, Ronnie O’Sullivan is known as “The Rocket” for his rapid-fire style of play. Born in Wordsley, England, O’Sullivan also excelled at a young age, winning the Junior Pot Black and the IBSF World Under-21 Snooker Championship before turning pro at 17. That year, he won the 1993 UK Championship, setting a still-intact record for the youngest player ever to win a ranking title.
O’Sullivan won his first World Championship in 2001, rising above John Higgins in the final. He took his second title in 2004, aided by the coaching of six-time world champ Ray Reardon. He won three more titles, in 2008, 2012, and 2013, before suffering a seven-year dry spell. O’Sullivan returned to form in 2020, winning his sixth World Championship. Two years later, he shocked the world, tying Hendry’s record at the 2022 World Snooker Championship by winning his seventh World Championship title in an 18-13 victory over Judd Trump. Now lauded for his longevity, this record-tying win ensured O’Sullivan’s place among snooker’s greatest.