The Top 10 Greatest Snooker Players of All Time

Explore the top 10 greatest snooker players of all time, from Ronnie O'Sullivan to Joe Davis, in a journey through the sport's illustrious history.

Louis Hobbs
Louis Hobbs

Last Updated: 2024-05-23

Naim Rosinski

12 minutes read

Ronnie O'Sullivan celebrating a win

Snooker's history began in India in 1875, and over the years, it has become a sport of great skill and mastery. The professional snooker circuit started in the 1920s, and since then, many talented players have made a significant impact on the sport's history.

Who are the Best Snooker Players of All Time?

From the legendary Joe Davis, whose dominance set the standard, to the contemporary maestro Ronnie O’Sullivan, a tapestry of unparalleled talent adorns the landscape of snooker. 

Join, as we unveil the indomitable spirits and remarkable prowess of the top 10 greatest snooker players of all time.

1. Ronnie O’Sullivan

Nicknamed "The Rocket," Ronnie O'Sullivan is widely regarded as the greatest snooker player of all time. The reigning and defending UK Championship and Masters champion, O'Sullivan's career is defined by his exceptional shot-making ability, ambidextrous play, and fiery temperament. Bor§n in Romford, O'Sullivan has amassed seven World Snooker Championship titles, a modern era record he shares with the next man on this list. 

O'Sullivan burst onto the scene by becoming the youngest player to win The Masters at the age of 19, and he has continued to shatter records ever since. Now 48, he has achieved over 1,200 century breaks and 15 maximums, with 41 tournament wins under his belt. His dominance on the table often makes the game look effortless, earning him an OBE in 2016.

O'Sullivan's impact extends beyond titles, as he has been nominated multiple times for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award. With career earnings surpassing £13 million, O'Sullivan's legacy is firmly established. Fans eagerly anticipate how long "The Rocket" will continue to amaze in the world of snooker, solidifying his place at the pinnacle of this top 10 list.

Ronnie O'Sullivan with a cue stick

Image credit: WST

2. Stephen Hendry

Stephen Hendry's illustrious career is marked by a remarkable 36 tournament victories, including an unprecedented seven triumphs at the Crucible. Known as "The Golden Boy" and "The Ice Man," the Scottish snooker legend boasts over 700 century breaks and 11 maximums. Hendry first claimed the world champion title in 1990 by defeating Jimmy White in the final, and he went on to win the title five consecutive times from 1992 to 1999.

In August 2020, Hendry delighted fans with his return to the professional snooker scene. Although his comeback has not yet been the fairy-tale, he envisioned, Hendry remains determined to compete at the Crucible once more. His contributions to the sport have been recognised with an MBE in 1993, and he has been honoured as the WPBSA Player of the Year six times.

Stephen Hendry's enduring legacy and dominance in the game secure his place among the top 10 greatest snooker players of all time, almost topping the list. 

3. Steve Davis

Steve Davis brought the curtain down on an illustrious career in 2016, having secured six World Championship titles and establishing himself as one of snooker's first major stars. In addition to his triumphs at The Crucible, Davis claimed six UK Championships and three Masters titles, becoming the first player to earn over £1 million in prize money.

Throughout the 1980s, Davis dominated the sport, earning nicknames such as “The Nugget” and the “Romford Slim.” His influence was pivotal in the snooker boom of that decade. 

Despite making just a single maximum break during his career, Davis's consistent excellence and charismatic presence made him a beloved figure in the sport. He remains the only snooker player to have won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award, which he received in 1988.

Beyond snooker, Davis showcased his versatility by competing in pool, regularly representing Europe in the Mosconi Cup. His broad appeal extended to popular culture, with an appearance on "I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here" in 2003. In recognition of his contributions to the sport, Davis was made an OBE in 2000.

4. Mark Selby

Mark Selby, famously known as the Jester from Leicester, stands out as a paragon of mental fortitude in recent snooker history. Undoubtedly, he dominated the last decade, clinching four world titles, showcasing his resilience by staging remarkable comebacks, notably triumphing over Ronnie O’Sullivan in the 2014 final.

Selby's prowess extends beyond world titles, with five maximum breaks to his name, including a memorable performance in the 2023 World Championship final against Luca Brecel. Since 2010, he held the world number one ranking longer than any other player until a slight ranking fall in 2020.

Mastering the art of safety play and grinding down opponents, Selby instils fear among the elite pack in the latter stages of competitions. His ability to maintain composure under pressure and execute strategic gameplay has cemented his status as a force to be reckoned with on the snooker circuit. Mark Selby's legacy as a true champion of the game continues to inspire awe and admiration among fans and fellow players alike.

Ronnie O'Sullivan at the WST

Image credit: WST

5. Mark Williams

While Mark Williams may jest about his prowess, his accomplishments in the world of snooker speak volumes. As a three-time world champion, the Welshman has etched his name among the sport's elite, securing a total of seven Triple Crown titles. This prestigious series of majors includes victories at the World and UK Championships, along with the revered Masters tournament.

During the early 2000s, Williams asserted his dominance, proving virtually unbeatable in the most pivotal events. Despite the passage of time, he continues to display remarkable resilience and skill, as evidenced by his victory at the Tour Championship in 2024, an impressive feat at the age of 49.

6. Alex Higgins

Alex “Hurricane” Higgins was a formidable force both on and off the snooker table. The two-time world champion is among the select few to have achieved Snooker’s Triple Crown, with victories in the World Championship, UK Championship, and Masters. Higgins passed away in 2010 at the age of 61, leaving behind a legacy that inspired many top players, including Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jimmy White.

Known for his rapid play and unconventional technique, Higgins captivated audiences and maintained a fierce rivalry with Steve Davis that defined snooker during the 1980s and 1990s. 

While his accomplishments on the table may suggest he underachieved, Higgins's charismatic personality and off-table antics significantly contributed to the sport's surge in popularity during the 1980s. His influence was instrumental in shaping the modern snooker landscape, and without him, the sport might not have reached its current stature.

7. John Higgins

While many may argue for John Higgins to hold a higher position, he secures the seventh spot on this esteemed list of the greatest snooker players of all time. The Scottish maestro has graced the Crucible stage in eight World Championship finals, emerging victorious in four of them. Remarkably, Higgins continues to exhibit formidable form as he approaches his 50s, renowned for possessing perhaps the most complete all-round game in snooker history.

As a former world No. 1, Higgins boasts an impressive haul of nine Triple Crown titles, exemplifying his mastery in the sport's most prestigious events. His illustrious career is punctuated by a staggering total of 31 ranking trophies, placing him third in snooker history, trailing only behind the likes of Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O'Sullivan.


Image credit: WST

8. Ray Reardon

Ray Reardon emerged as the dominant figure of the 1970s snooker scene, earning the moniker “Dracula” due to his distinctive appearance. Throughout his illustrious career, Reardon clinched six World Championships, with his first triumph coming in 1970. As the sport evolved, Reardon made history by becoming the inaugural world number 1 player when rankings were established in 1976.

His contributions to snooker were recognised with an MBE in 1985, underscoring his impact on the sport. 

Reardon held the distinction of being the oldest-ever world snooker champion until 2022, when Ronnie O’Sullivan, aged 46, surpassed this record. Ray Reardon's legacy as a pioneer and champion of the game endures, shaping the trajectory of snooker for generations to come.

9. Jimmy White

Jimmy White is widely revered as the greatest player to never clinch the World Championship title. His snooker journey began in 1980, hailing from London, where he has since amassed an impressive tally of ten ranking event victories. Now in his 60s, White is affectionately known as the “Whirlwind” for his dynamic and fast-paced style of play.

Much like Alex Higgins, White's charismatic on-screen persona played a pivotal role in driving snooker's popularity, contributing significantly to the sport's meteoric rise during the 1980s and 90s. While he holds the record for being a four-time World Seniors Champion, the memories of six World Snooker Championship final defeats continue to linger.

However, amidst the near misses, White etched his name in history in 1992 by becoming only the second player to achieve a maximum break at The Crucible, showcasing his extraordinary skill and talent on the grandest stage of them all. Jimmy White's enduring legacy as a beloved figure in snooker remains untarnished, his indomitable spirit and flair leaving an indelible mark on the sport.

10. Joe Davis

Joe Davis, born in 1901, stands as a monumental figure in the history of snooker. A 15-time Snooker World Champion, Davis remains the only player to have never been defeated at the World Snooker Championship. His legacy includes recording the first-ever century break at the tournament in 1930. Beyond snooker, Davis was also a world billiards champion, demonstrating his versatility and prowess in cue sports.

In 1955, Davis became the first player to achieve a maximum break, further cementing his legendary status. While he likely would have secured additional Snooker World Championships, Davis chose to focus on other tournaments from 1946 onwards. His contributions to the sport were recognised with an OBE in 1963, highlighting his pivotal role in shaping modern snooker.

Joe Davis passed away in 1978 at the age of 77, but his influence endures, having paved the way for how snooker is played and appreciated today.

For additional guidance to elevate your snooker proficiency or deeper understanding of the professional circuit, stay connected with Stay informed and up to date on all things snooker with our comprehensive coverage and expert insights.

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Louis HobbsLead Journalist

Meet Louis Hobbs, our esteemed authority on all matters sports-related. With a wealth of knowledge and experience, Louis effortlessly emerges as our go-to expert. His particular expertise in the realms of darts and snooker sets him apart and brings a level of insight that goes beyond the ordinary. Louis also holds a deep affection for all things related to US sports, with a special emphasis on basketball and American football, which stand out as his particular favorites. His content may not resonate with you, if you don't consider Lamar Jackson the most skilled player in the NFL.