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Top Five Players Without a Ranking Event Win

Next week marks the real commencement of the 2019/20 season with each player bidding for a first ranking event win this term.

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Gilbert let slip a 9-5 lead in the final of the World Open, losing 10-9 to Mark Williams. Photo credit: World Snooker

Silverware has, of course, already been distributed this summer with John Higgins and Stephen Maguire capturing the World Cup for Scotland in Wuxi last month.

However, the Riga Masters in Latvia at the end of July will signal the beginning of another hectic period of snooker action on the Main Tour.

In total, there are 19 ranking events scheduled between now and the season-concluding World Snooker Championship in April and May.



There are plenty of opportunities then for competitors up and down the pecking order to make names for themselves.

Indeed, in this decade in which World Snooker supremo Barry Hearn has salvaged the sport from the depths of depression, there have been a total of 123 ranking events, consisting of 31 different champions.

Out of those, 18 contenders earned victories of this status for the first time in their careers.

Some, like Judd Trump, Stuart Bingham, and Mark Allen, used that first success as a launchpad for greater glories in the future.

Others like Joe Perry, Martin Gould, and Liang Wenbo have had to settle, so far at least, for just the maiden triumph.

For a long time, two names who were right at the very top of the list of “players without a ranking event win” were Anthony Hamilton and Ryan Day.

But the pair finally wrote themselves into the history books for the right reasons in 2017 with respective victories in the German Masters and, funnily enough, the Riga Masters.

Will the latter tournament conjure up memories of similar ilk in little less than a fortnight’s time?

Who then are the players currently on the circuit who are most desperate to get the label of the perennial bridesmaid off their backs?

Top Five Players Without a Ranking Event Win

5 – Robert Milkins

Robert Milkins had always been blessed with a natural talent and his quick style of play has forever been attractive on the eye.

But it wasn’t really until the Barry Hearn era began that people truly considered him to be a genuine prospect in big events.

By 2010, Milkins had already been a professional for 15 years but boasted just a solitary semi-final appearance.

A handful of years later and his tally of last four clashes had risen to six, all ending in painful reverses.

The now 43 year-old’s consistency during that spell did see him land a high ranking of number 12, but that achievement will hardly make up for his thus far trophyless career.

4 – Michael Holt

A return of two ranking event finals – one of them counting as the Snooker Shoot Out – doesn’t represent a great return for the player known as the “Hitman”.

Holt has been a professional for more than two decades and was once heralded as one of the brightest young talents in the game.

Now 40, the Nottingham cueman has never bagged a ranking event win, in part also the reasoning behind his failure to ever break into the elite top 16 in the world rankings.

Holt did triumph in two minor ranking events on the now defunct Players Tour Championship series at the beginning of this decade, but that will never be a substitute for the real thing.

Now into the latter years of his career, time is certainly not on his side.

3 – Mark Davis

While Holt might at least have a few years left to set the record straight, the same can hardly be said for the next player.

Mark Davis, now 46, is most certainly in the twilight of his tenure on the Main Tour.

That said, it was only last season when Davis reached a ranking event final for the first time.

His 2018 English Open final loss to Bingham left him questioning whether he would ever manage to get into that position again in the future.

Davis, who like Milkins has been as high as number 12 in the world rankings, will always at least be recognised for something else, though.

The former Paul Hunter Classic runner-up has won a record three Six Red World Championship titles.



2 – Jack Lisowski

With a brace of ranking event final appearances last season, Jack Lisowski finally began to somewhat match the hype that has surrounded his game for a decade.

Ever since announcing himself as a professional with a run to the final of a PTC tournament in 2010 – in only his third start among the professional ranks – people have expected great things from Lisowski.

It’s taken quite a bit of time for the Cheltenham cueist to find his feet and, in fact, he came within a whisker of dropping off the tour a couple of seasons ago.

But Lisowski has dug deep and, after a prolonged period of consistency, is now rightfully included among the best 16 in the world.

Neil Robertson has stood in his way of a ranking event win twice so the 28 year-old will be hoping that the next time he finds himself in a similar position, the Australian won’t be waiting in the other chair.

Unlike everyone else in this top five, though, Lisowski still has potentially many years at the top.

1 – David Gilbert

Admittedly, this list has a decidedly English feel to it but that’s just the way it has worked out.

David Gilbert might not have been at the top spot this time twelve months ago but last season elevated the “Angry Farmer” to greater heights.

The 38 year-old had already experienced a ranking event final when he lost in the title decider of the International Championship in 2015.

But two additional runs to the same stage of ranking events during the 2018/19 term, not to forget his appearance in the last four of the World Championship in April, changed people’s perception of Gilbert.

That all three of those encounters ended in close crushing defeats will perhaps not help his chances of getting over the line in the future.

Yet, Gilbert is an established member of the top 16 now and, if anyone is arguably primed to make the leap across the boundary during this campaign, it’s him.



2 Comments

  1. Apart from Lisowski, I’m not so sure. These are quite safe choices: all of them have appeared in the World Championship, and will be familiar faces to most snooker watchers. But players such as Yan Bingtao, Xiao Guodong and Lyu Haotian are higher ranked than Davis, Milkins and Holt, and they have appeared in ranking finals (should have won them). Gary Wilson is now up to 20 following his World semi. It’s also possible that a young player like Yuan Sijun could break through – he would definitely be in my top-5.

    • I understand your point but this kind of topic is always going to be heavily weighted on longevity. Not sure Yan, Lyu and Yuan have been on the tour long enough to be genuinely considered at this time. Xiao and Wilson, for what it’s worth, were both considered before writing.

      If it was based on talent alone, the list would be different. But a combination of talent, their highest ranking, previous performances in ranking events, and length of time on the Main Tour were all taken into account.

      Thanks for the comment!

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World Rankings Top 16

World Rankings after the World Snooker Championship – won by Mark Selby.

1. Judd Trump
2. Mark Selby
3. Ronnie O’Sullivan
4. Neil Robertson
5. Shaun Murphy
6. Kyren Wilson
7. John Higgins
8. Ding Junhui
9. Stephen Maguire
10. Yan Bingtao
11. Mark Williams
12. Mark Allen
13. Barry Hawkins
14. Jack Lisowski
15. Stuart Bingham
16. Anthony McGill

Fin Ruane Snooker Academy