The top 10 comebacks of the 2023/24 professional snooker season

Credit: Wang HE/Getty ImagesCredit: Wang HE/Getty Images
Credit: Wang HE/Getty Images
The 2023/24 snooker season provided plenty of memorable moments and achievements, including a plethora of impressive and significant comebacks. Here at Totally Snookered, we attempt to filter out and order our top 10 best recoveries of the campaign - not necessarily by the biggest margins - but what they also went on to represent.

10) Ricky Walden 4-3 Graeme Dott (2023 English Open, last 32)

Dott appeared to be coasting into the last 16 in Brentwood as he led Walden 3-0 and by 70 points to nil in frame four, leaving his opponent requiring a snooker.

However, having clawed his way back into the frame, Walden laid a successful snooker on the final pink with just that and the black remaining and went on to open his account. After securing the next two frames (134 break, frame six) to force an unlikely decider, Walden battled again, coming from 34 points down to eventually squeeze through on the final pink. He lost in the next round, 4-3.

9) Anthony McGill 4-3 Robbie McGuigan (2023 Northern Ireland Open, last 64)

Home hero and amateur wildcard McGuigan was on course for the last 32 in Belfast via victory against two-time ranking event winner McGill live on the main TV table.

3-1 up in the race to four, 19-year-old McGuigan fist pumped when he potted a ball to go 39 points up with just the colours remaining, although McGill (needing three four-point snookers to tie) conjured up the penalty points, potted the remaining balls to tie and subsequently won the re-spot black.

McGill allowed his opponent only 24 points in the next two frames to complete an incredible turnaround, however, he lost 4-0 in the next round.

The result didn’t seem to affect youngster McGuigan too much, though, as he won the European Amateur Championship a few months later and is set to be full time on the pro circuit within the coming weeks.

8) David Gilbert 10-9 Luca Brecel (2024 World Championship, round one)

Then reigning world champion Luca Brecel became the 22nd victim of the fabled ‘Crucible Curse’ and the 10th defending champ to lose in the opening round of a Crucible World Championship when qualifier David Gilbert recovered from three down with four to play on the opening day of the main event in Sheffield.

An under-the-weather Brecel seemed to be coping well with the situation as he led 7-3 before later reaching the hill at 9-6 up and building a profit of 54 points in frame 16.

Credit: George Wood/Getty ImagesCredit: George Wood/Getty Images
Credit: George Wood/Getty Images

Gilbert, though, - who had been struggling with form and motivation before the tournament - punished his opponent for not capitalising on several golden opportunities to get the job done by reeling off four frames along with important breaks of 65, 81, 53 and 65.

Englishman Gilbert carried on in the competition, reaching the one-table set-up for the second time in his career.

7) Jamie Clarke 6-5 Kyren Wilson (2023 UK Championship, round one)

Having won three qualifying matches just to get there, it looked like Clarke’s trip to York was going to be a short one as he trailed seed Wilson 5-1 and by 51 points to nil. However, Wilson broke down on his break of 51 and Clarke managed to begin the comeback by securing the frame on the final pink.

After Clarke took the next for 5-3, Wilson was very close to the finish line again in frame nine as he compiled a break of 54, but he didn’t manage to get on a red properly and his swerve attempt was misjudged, allowing his lower ranked opponent to step in for a cool counter-attacking run of 80.

Clarke then totted up breaks of 104 and 76 to win five frames in a row and finish in style. He lost 6-4 in the next round.

6) Tom Ford 6-5 Noppon Saengkham (2023 UK Championship, round one)

In what was a very special night at the Barbican, on the other table to Clarke’s comeback was perhaps an even more impressive recovery from Ford.

Thai qualifier Saengkham was in sizzling form early on as he made breaks of 54, 126, 58, 100 and 127 to lead 5-1, although Ford started his way back with contributions of 61 and 130 to reduce the gap to two.

In frame nine, Saengkham was one pot away from the snookers required stage, but after botching a pot on the final red, Ford cleared with 32 to prolong the match further. A 55 in frame ten aided Ford in sending the tie all the way, but it appeared that his rally was in vain as Saengkham built a strong advantage in the decider.

However, after failing to land on a red whilst on a break of 55, Saengkham later fluffed a safety and invited his opponent back to the table. Ford steadied himself and compiled a match-winning clearance of 70 to the final pink.

5) Judd Trump 5-4 Chris Wakelin (2023 European Masters, last 32)

Having won his opening two rounds in the event both 5-0, the shoe was on the other foot for Trump who found himself 4-0 down at the mid-session interval in Nuremberg.

On resumption, though, the Triple Crown winner chalked up breaks of 92, 69, 57, 59 and 100 to string together five successive frames and record a memorable win. In frame six, Trump was 55-0 down in points before piecing together a classy 69 clearance to the final pink.

Trump went on to reach the final.

4) Si Jiahui 5-4 Lyu Haotian (2024 German Masters, last 128)

In an all-Chinese ‘qualifying’ round contest held in England, Lyu was dominant in the opening mini-session as he made runs of 83, 64, 89 and 112 for a 4-0 lead.

In a huge reversal after the break, Si went on a scoring frenzy himself, producing breaks of 123, 87, 98 and 103 for an incredible comeback victory in one of the matches of the season.

The result holds extra significance as, at the Tempodrom in Berlin, 21-year-old Si won five matches with a frame aggregate of 26-9 to reach his maiden professional event final where he lost 10-5 to Judd Trump.

Credit: Zhe Ji/Getty ImagesCredit: Zhe Ji/Getty Images
Credit: Zhe Ji/Getty Images

3) Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-5 John Higgins (2023 Shanghai Masters, quarter-finals)

It looked almost certain that defending champion O’Sullivan’s Shanghai winning streak was going to end when he fell 5-2 down to Higgins who was in excellent form having made two century breaks and two further breaks in the 70s.

Higgins held all the cards again in frame eight - just one away from the overall winning target - when he led 58-0 in points. But he was unable to cross the line, spurning two glorious chances, as O’Sullivan kept his hopes alive by eventually taking it on the final pink.

The title holder claimed frame nine to narrow the deficit again and - despite having not made a single half-century break earlier in the game - he turned on the style at the end with contributions of 100 and 130 to somehow go through.

O’Sullivan went on to win the tournament for a fourth consecutive edition and stretch his unbeaten sequence to 19 matches in the event.

2) Gary Wilson 6-5 Zhou Yuelong (2023 Scottish Open, semi-finals)

Defending champion Wilson survived back-to-back-to-back deciding frame matches early on in Edinburgh, but it seemed like Zhou would be the one to finally end his title reign in the last four.

Breaks of 122 and 54 from 5-3 down assisted Wilson in taking the tie into an 11th and final frame, but Zhou had one foot and four toes in the final when he sank the final green and roared in celebration in the decider after going 31 points up with only four balls and 22 points remaining.

Determined not to relinquish his crown, though, Wilson obtained successful snookers on the brown and blue before potting the remaining colours to dramatically force the match into a re-spot. After seven minutes of play on the additional black, it was Wilson who had the last and decisive celebration after depositing it.

The next day, Wilson defeated Noppon Saengkham 9-5 in the final to retain the title that represented his first ranking triumph 12 months earlier.

1) Judd Trump (2023 English Open semi-finals and final)

OK, we may be cheating here by putting these comebacks together, but due to the significant outcome of the event, we felt it was appropriate.

With the memorable season he had, it is easy to forget that prior to his trip to Brentwood, Trump hadn’t tasted ranking event glory in over 18 months. It seemed like that barren spell would continue when John Higgins led him 5-2 in the semi-finals, however, Trump won four frames on the spin - leaving Higgins pointless in three of those - as he advanced to the final.

A big favourite against maiden ranking event finalist Zhang Anda the following day, Trump unexpectedly found himself 5-1 and 7-3 behind, but a six-frame streak at nearly the point of no return saw him succeed 9-7 and lift The Steve Davis Trophy for the second time in his career.

Trump went on to win the next two ranking events - the Wuhan Open the following week and then the Northern Ireland Open - to complete a hat-trick, becoming only the fifth player in the history of the sport to claim three successive ranking titles.

In total, Trump fashioned a 22-match winning streak on the circuit.