Analysis

Who is the number one ranked player in snooker?

Credit: Getty Images/Lewis StoreyCredit: Getty Images/Lewis Storey
Credit: Getty Images/Lewis Storey | Getty Images/Lewis Storey
A potted history about who has reached the top of the professional rankings

Ever since a world ranking system was introduced to professional snooker in 1976, the sport has had a number one ranked player.

Ray Reardon was snooker's first world number one ranked player, a position he held for nearly six years before regaining it in 1982. 

Mark Allen will be snooker’s world number one ranked player following the conclusion of the 2024 World Championship (May 2024)

Ray Reardon was professional snooker's first officially recognised world number one ranked player. Credit: Getty Images/Central PressRay Reardon was professional snooker's first officially recognised world number one ranked player. Credit: Getty Images/Central Press
Ray Reardon was professional snooker's first officially recognised world number one ranked player. Credit: Getty Images/Central Press | Getty Images/Central Press

Who has been the world number one in snooker? 

In total, only 12 players have officially been the world’s number one ranked player in professional snooker.  

These are (listed in chronological order from when they first became world number one, with the first to the latest): 

  • Ray Reardon (Wales)
  • Cliff Thorburn (Canada) 
  • Steve Davis (England) 
  • Stephen Hendry (Scotland) 
  • John Higgins (Scotland) 
  • Mark Williams (Wales) 
  • Ronnie O’Sullivan (England) 
  • Neil Robertson (Australia) 
  • Mark Selby (England) 
  • Judd Trump (England) 
  • Ding Junhui (China) 
  • Mark Allen (Northern Ireland)

Many great players from before 1976 would have surely been world number one, but there was no official ranking system in place.

The snooker rankings can be looked at in two different eras - the former ‘fixed’ seasonal list approach that was previously used, and the current ‘rolling’ list meaning the rankings get updated after every ranked event.

The fixed list that was in operation for 35 years saw 14 different world number one reigns. 

Since a rolling list has been used, the world number one spot has changed/will change hands 23 times (as of end of the 2024 World Championship in May 2024)

Stephen Hendry holds the record for the longest unbroken spell as snooker's world number one. Credit: Getty Images/Tom Shaw/AllsportStephen Hendry holds the record for the longest unbroken spell as snooker's world number one. Credit: Getty Images/Tom Shaw/Allsport
Stephen Hendry holds the record for the longest unbroken spell as snooker's world number one. Credit: Getty Images/Tom Shaw/Allsport | Getty Images/Tom Shaw/Allsport

World number one snooker records 

The king of snooker in the 1980s Steve Davis was the world number one for nearly seven consecutive years. His 365-week spell as the top player surpassed Reardon's first stint (312 weeks) as world number one. 

However, Stephen Hendry - the man who directly took over from Davis at the summit - was the world's number one for over eight years. His unbroken 418-week run from 1990 to 1998 is the most dominant spell in the history of the professional snooker rankings. 

John Higgins usurped fellow Scot Hendry when he won the 1998 World Championship. Other 'Class of 92' members Mark Williams and then Ronnie O'Sullivan went to number one in the following years.

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