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Everything you need to know about the main tour professionals for the 2017/18 season

Mark Selby celebrates (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Mark Selby

World ranking: 1
DOB: 19/06/1983
Home town: Leicester
Professional since: 1999
Rankings titles: 12
World Champion: Three times (2014, 2016, 2017)
Career high break: 147 (Two times)

The reigning World champion and runaway world number one, Mark Selby has the potential to dominate snooker in the same manner to that of Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry.

The Jester turned professional aged 16 in 1999 but it was not until the 2007 World Championship that he truly underlined his potential – reaching the final where, despite a stunning comeback from 12-4 down to only trail 14-13, he eventually succumbed 18-13 to John Higgins.

Nevertheless, he climbed into the top 16 of the world rankings for the first time and has not looked back since – winning the Masters three times in six years, while the UK Championship followed in 2012 and he completed the Triple Crown two years later after recovering from 10-5 down to stun Ronnie O’Sullivan 18-14 in the World Championship final.

The 2016/17 season was by far the most successful during Selby’s professional career. The Leicester cueist collected a joint-record five ranking titles in a single campaign including a second UK crown, while he successfully defended his World title from 10-4 behind to see off Higgins 18-15 at the Crucible.

John Higgins of Scotland in action (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

John Higgins

World ranking: 2
DOB: 18/05/1975
Home town: Wishaw
Professional since: 1992
Rankings titles: 28
World Champion: Four times (1998, 2007, 2009, 2011)
Career high break: 147 (Eight times)

One of the most complete all-round players in snooker history, John Higgins can be safely regarded as a legend of the sport.

With four World titles, three UK crowns and two Masters successes, the Scotsman has won all there is to win in the game and is also one of just four players to hold all three major titles at the same time – doing so during the 1998/99 season.

A member of the ‘Class of 92’, Higgins first came to prominence during the 1994/95 season, when he became the first teenager to win three ranking titles in a single campaign, and added his maiden World crown just three years later to move to the top of the world rankings – ending Stephen Hendry’s eight-year hold on the number one spot.

Further Crucible triumphs followed in 2007, 2009 and 2011 and Higgins is still going strong at the age of 42 – reaching the World final in 2017 before narrowly losing 18-15 to Mark Selby – while only Hendry has captured more than his 28 ranking titles and only the Scotsman and Ronnie O'Sullivan eclipse his eight maximum breaks.

Judd Trump plays a shot (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Judd Trump

World ranking: 3
DOB: 20/08/1989
Home town: Bristol
Professional since: 2005
Ranking titles: 7
Career high break: 147 (Three times)

One of the most naturally gifted players of his generation, Judd Trump undoubtedly has the talent to become one of the all-time greats.

He may have turned professional in 2005, but it was not until six years later that Trump’s obvious credentials were there for all to see.

After capturing his first ranking title at the China Open, his exciting brand of ‘Naughty Snooker’ took him all the way to the World Championship final where, despite leading 10-7, he eventually succumbed 18-15 to an inspired John Higgins.

Nevertheless, the Bristolian climbed into the world’s top 16 for the first time and captured the UK Championship later that year, before reaching number one after lifting the International Championship in 2012.

Recent years have seen Trump develop his all-round game and consistency has followed as a result, with two ranking titles and a further three finals during the 2016/17 season.

However, since reaching the final in 2011, the 27-year-old is yet to really do himself justice at the Crucible and that is something he is desperate to correct by finally going all the way to lifting the trophy in Sheffield.

Ding Junhui in action (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Ding Junhui

World ranking: 4
DOB: 01/04/1987
Home town: Wuxi, China
Professional since: 2003
Ranking titles: 12
Career high break: 147 (Six times)

The most successful player ever to come out of Asia, Ding Junhui is also one of the best all-round cueists in the sport.

Having made the journey to England to pursue his dream as a teenager, Ding soon underlined his talent by capturing the 2005 China Open after entering the tournament as a wildcard.

He then lifted the UK Championship title just eight months later and the Northern Ireland Trophy followed in 2006 – making him only the third player to win three ranking events before their 20th birthday.

A second UK crown was captured in 2009 as well as the Masters two years later while, during the 2013/14 season, he became the second player after Stephen Hendry to claim five ranking titles in a single campaign.

Ding narrowly missed out in the 2016 World Championship final – succumbing 18-14 to Mark Selby – but it appears to only be a matter of time before he does don the crown in Sheffield.

At peak form, he is exemplary in all areas and, in particular, break-building, having already compiled over 450 century breaks, while only three players have made more maximums in competitive play.

Marco Fu in action (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Marco Fu

World ranking: 5
DOB: 08/01/1978
Home town: Happy Valley, Hong Kong
Professional since: 1998
Ranking titles: 3
Career high break: 147 (Four times)

One of snooker’s stalwarts in the higher echelons of the game, Marco Fu is currently producing the highest standards of his career to date.

Within months of turning professional in 1998, Fu reached the final of the Grand Prix and, after just three seasons on the tour, climbed into the world’s top 16.

He claimed his maiden ranking title in that same event in 2007 – recovering from 6-2 down to beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-6 – and reached the UK Championship final a year later – narrowly losing 10-9 to Shaun Murphy.

The man from Hong Kong also got to the Masters final in 2011 – losing 10-4 to Ding Junhui – but captured his second ranking event crown at the 2013 Australian Open.

Consistency has always been an ongoing issue with Fu – a player capable of producing some outstanding stuff when on the top of his game, but also susceptible to a dramatic dip in form.

However, he appeared to have sorted that out last season, when he hit back from 4-1 down to stun John Higgins 9-4 to win the Scottish Open, and is now ranked at a career high of sixth in the world rankings as a result. 

Barry Hawkins lines up a shot (Warren Little/Getty Images)

Barry Hawkins

World ranking: 6
DOB: 23/04/1979
Home town: Ditton
Professional since: 1996
Ranking titles: 3
Career high break: 147 (Two times)

One of the genuine nice guys in the game, Barry Hawkins is a player that, more often than not, you will see in the latter stages of the big tournaments.

Considered somewhat of a journeyman after turning professional in 1996, Hawkins made his big breakthrough by winning the 2012 Australian Goldfields Open – a victory that would eventually propel him into the top 16 of the world rankings.

He followed that up with a fairytale run to the 2013 World Championship final, having not been past the second round at the Crucible up until that point. Despite an impressive display, Hawkins eventually succumbed 18-12 to an inspired Ronnie O’Sullivan.

The Hawk continued to make strides – capturing the 2014 Players Championship – and has since reached a further three semi-finals at the Crucible, as well as reaching the 2016 Masters final.

He claimed a third ranking title at the World Grand Prix last season and, with Terry Griffiths in his corner, there is plenty of potential for the Ditton cueist to win more silverware in the coming years.

Neil Robertson lines up a shot (Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Neil Robertson

World ranking: 7
DOB: 11/02/1982
Home town: Melbourne, Australia
Professional since: 1998
Ranking titles: 12
World Champion: 2010
Career high break: 147 (Three times)

The most successful overseas player in the history of the game, Neil Robertson can be safely regarded as one of snooker’s greats.

Having arrived in the UK with just £50 in his pocket when he turned professional in 1998, the Australian has gone on to achieve great things in the sport – most notably becoming a member of the exclusive Triple Crown club.

He first climbed into the top 16 at the end of the 2005/06 season and captured his first two ranking titles at the Grand Prix and Welsh Open the following campaign.

Three years later, he became only the third overseas player to win the World Championship following his 18-13 victory over Graeme Dott in the final, while further triumphs at the 2012 Masters and 2013 UK Championship completed the Triple Crown.

The Thunder is one of the best break-builders in the game and made history in 2014 by becoming the first player to make over 100 centuries in a single season, while a second UK crown was captured 19 months later.

He has struggled to really kick on in recent years but, given his pedigree and achievements, you cannot write him off just yet.

Shaun Murphy in action (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Shaun Murphy

World Ranking: 8
DOB: 10/08/1982
Home town: Harlow
Professional since: 1998
Ranking titles: 7
World Champion: 2005
Career high break: 147 (Five times)

Another of snooker’s nice guys and a truly great ambassador for the sport, Shaun Murphy can also be considered as one of the greats.

After turning professional in 1998, Murphy rose to prominence seven years later when, priced at pre-tournament odds of 150/1, he became only the third qualifier to win the World Championship following an 18-16 victory over Matthew Stevens in a brilliant final.

The Magician has since become a stalwart of the top 16 and captured the UK Championship in 2008, before reaching his second World final five months later, only to lose 18-9 to John Higgins.

He went on to complete the Triple Crown – becoming the 10th player to do so – after winning the 2015 Masters, before narrowly missing out on a second Crucible triumphs later that season after a slender 18-15 defeat by Stuart Bingham.

One of the best long-potters in the game, Murphy has won seven ranking event titles and made five maximum breaks during a career that has seen him pocket over £3 million in prize money.

Stuart Bingham lines up a shot (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Stuart Bingham

World ranking: 9
DOB: 21/05/1976
Home town: Basildon
Professional since: 1996
Ranking titles: 4
World Champion: 2015
Career high break: 147 (Three times)

Another of the game’s more likeable characters, Stuart Bingham is now firmly established among snooker’s elite top 16.

The Basildon cueist first caught the public eye when he overcame seven-time World champion Stephen Hendry on his Crucible debut in 2000.

However, considered somewhat a journeyman professional thereon, it was not until 11 years later when he made his breakthrough – capturing his first ranking title at the Australian Open after beating Mark Williams 9-8 in the final.

Bingham, who subsequently climbed into the world’s top 16 where he has remained ever since, added four Asian Tour event titles to his silverware collection before a second ranking success arrived at the 2014 Shanghai Masters.

Then came his finest hour at the following year’s World Championship where, after knocking out Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump along the way, an 18-15 victory over Shaun Murphy saw him secure a fairytale Crucible crown in Sheffield.

‘Ballrun’ struggled to really build on that during the 2015/16 season, but did get back to winning ways by landing the 2017 Welsh Open and, now being coached by Terry Griffiths, he will be looking to add more trophies to his collection in the years to come.

Mark Allen in action (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Mark Allen

World ranking: 10
DOB: 22/02/1986
Home town: Antrim
Professional since: 2005
Ranking titles: 3
Career high break: 147

Mark Allen is another player firmly established among the world's top 16 and also one of the game's more fiery characters.

The Pistol turned professional in 2005 and consistent performances saw him climb into the elite bracket just three seasons later.

Allen then beat defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan on the way to reaching the semi-finals of the following year's World Championship where, despite fighting back from 13-3 down, he eventually succumbed 17-13 to John Higgins.

The Northern Irishman continued to make strides with a run to the 2011 UK Championship, where he lost 10-8 to Judd Trump, but captured his first ranking title just three months later at the 2012 Haikou World Open.

He successfully defended the title but it was at around this time that Allen found himself facing a string of disciplinary action for outbursts during interviews, including criticism of World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn.

However, Allen appears to have turned the corner from those days and lifted a third ranking trophy at the 2016 Players Championship, but will be desperate to build on his tally in the coming years.

Kyren Wilson plays a shot (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Kyren Wilson

World ranking: 11
DOB: 23/12/1991
Home town: Kettering
Professional since: 2010
Ranking titles: 1
Career high break: 143

One of the game’s brightest young talents, Kyren Wilson certainly has the potential to go all the way and achieve big things in snooker.

A regular practise partner of former World champion Peter Ebdon from an early age, Wilson first gained recognition when making his debut at the Crucible in 2014.

The Kettering cueist gave a good account of himself despite losing in the opening round, but it was a year later that he truly underlined his potential with a fairytale victory at the Shanghai Masters.

After coming through three qualifying rounds and also overcoming a local wildcard, Wilson beat the likes of Joe Perry, Ding Junhui and Mark Allen on the way to the final where, despite being pegged back to 9-9 from 9-7 up, he held his nerve to beat Judd Trump in a decider.

Following that victory and a string of consistent performances, the Warrior climbed into the top 16 at the end of the 2015/16 season and, with two World Championship quarter-finals already under his belt, many feel that it is only a matter of time before he dons the Crucible crown.

Liang Wenbo plays a shot with the rest (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Liang Wenbo

World ranking: 12
DOB: 05/03/1987
Home town: Zhaodong, China
Professional since: 2005
Ranking titles: 1
Career high break: 147

Another of snooker's success stories from China, Liang Wenbo is one of the most passionate players on the circuit.

Three years after turning professional, Liang burst onto the scene when he reached the quarter-finals of the 2008 World Championship, where his likeable personality won him many fans at the Crucible.

Reaching the final of the 2009 Shanghai Masters would see him climb into the top 16 for the first time, although subsequent poor performances meant his stay was short-lived.

It was not until five years later that Liang would return to the elite bracket following his run to the 2015 UK Championship final, which also saw him secure a debut at the Masters.

He then cemented his position by claiming the first ranking title of his career at the inaugural English Open - beating Judd Trump 9-6 in the final.

Liang will now be looking to kick on during the 2017/18 season and make further strides into the higher echelons of the top 16.

Ali Carter at the table (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Ali Carter

World ranking: 13
DOB: 25/07/1979
Home town: Chelmsford
Professional since: 1996
Ranking titles: 4
Career high break: 147 (Two times)

One of the toughest and determined characters both on and off the table, Ali Carter is still going strong after two decades in the game.

After turning professional in 1996, Carter first gained recognition when he reached the semi-finals of the 1999 Grand Prix, before qualifying for the 2000 Masters after winning the Benson and Hedges Championship.

Six years later, he climbed into the top 16 for the first time and, at the 2008 World Championship, made a magical 147 on his way to reaching the first of two finals with the other coming in 2012.

The Captain, who enjoys flying in his spare time, won his first ranking title at the 2009 Welsh Open, before victory at the following year's Shanghai Masters saw him climb to a career high of second in the world rankings.

Carter also captured the 2013 German Masters before successfully overcoming two battles with cancer in 2014 and, having slipped down the rankings as a result of taking time out to fight the illness, he climbed back into the top 16 after lifting the World Open last season while also reaching a second Berlin final.

Ronnie O'Sullivan plays a shot with the rest (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Ronnie O'Sullivan

World ranking: 14
DOB: 05/12/1975
Home town: Chigwell
Professional since: 1992
Ranking titles: 28
World Champion: Five times (2001, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2013)
Career high break: 147 (13 times)

The most naturally gifted player ever to grace the modern game, Ronnie O’Sullivan is firmly established as one of snooker’s all-time greats.

O’Sullivan already leads the way in terms of maximums, century breaks and Masters titles, but many argue that there are still records to eclipse before he can become the undisputed greatest of all-time.

A member of the Class of ’92, the Rocket burst onto the scene in just his second professional season as a 17-year-old by winning the 1993 UK Championship – beating then world number one Stephen Hendry in the final.

An additional 27 ranking titles have since followed including five World crowns and another four UK trophies, as well as a record seven successes at the Masters.

He made the fastest-ever 147 in 1997 at just five minutes and 20 seconds and has made a further 12 over the next two decades, as well as just under 900 century breaks and counting.

Controversy may never be too far away in any tournament where O’Sullivan is involved but, love him or hate him, he remains snooker’s box-office draw into his forties.

Ryan Day takes a shot (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Ryan Day

World Ranking: 15
DOB: 23/03/1980
Home town: Pontycymer
Professional since: 1998
Ranking titles: 1
Career high break: 147

Widely regarded as the best player never to win a ranking event for so long, Ryan Day finally has that monkey well and truly off his back.

After turning professional in 1998, the Welshman reached his first ranking event final at the Malta Cup nine years later and also got to the showpieces of that year’s Shanghai Masters as well as the 2008 Grand Prix – losing to Dominic Dale and John Higgins respectively – on the way to climbing to a career high of sixth in the world rankings, but a downturn in fortune eventually saw him spend the next few season outside of the top 16.

However, some consistent display at the back end of last season including a run to the final of the World Grand Prix – his first at a ranking event for nearly nine years – saw him climb back into the elite bracket in time for the World Championship, although he was knocked out in the opening round.

The 37-year-old finally entered the winners’ enclosure at the start of this campaign by capturing his maiden ranking title at the Riga Masters – beating the likes of Barry Hawkins, Kyren Wilson, Joe Perry and Mark Williams before overcoming Stephen Maguire 5-2 in the final.

Mark Williams lines up a shot (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Mark Williams

World ranking: 16
DOB: 21/03/1975
Home town: Cwm
Professional since: 1992
Ranking titles: 18
World Champion: Two times (2000, 2003)
Career high break: 147 (Two times)

The most successful left-hander in snooker history, Mark Williams is still going strong after more than 25 years in the game.

Williams has captured two World, UK and Masters crowns during a successful career, while also being one of just four players to hold all three titles at the same time. In addition, only four players better his 18 ranking event successes.

A key member in the Class of ’92, Williams broke into the top 16 just four seasons later after making his breakthrough at the 1996 Welsh Open.

He claimed a dramatic victory over Stephen Hendry on the final black in the 1998 Masters, while the UK and World Championship followed over the next two years as he quickly climbed to number one in the world rankings.

The 2002/03 season remains his most successful to date – capturing all three Triple Crown events – and, although he has now gone over six years without lifting a piece of ranking silverware, he is continuing to reach the latter stages of big tournaments in his forties.

This season, the Welshman will be working with a new coach in Stephen Feeney, who inspired Stuart Bingham’s fairytale victory at the 2015 World Championship, so anything could be possible for the 42-year-old.

Martin Gould plays a shot (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Martin Gould

World ranking: 17
DOB: 14/09/1981
Home town: Pinner
Professional since: 2003
Ranking titles: 1
Career high break: 142

Boasting one of the best cue actions in the game and always in and around the world’s top 16, Martin Gould also has the honour of seeing his name among the elite list of ranking event winners.

After turning professional for the second time in 2007, the Pinner Potter became somewhat of a specialist at the events with a unique format – winning the Power Snooker event in 2011 as well as the Shootout and Championship League two years later, while also capturing a PTC in 2012.

However, despite reaching three ranking finals, Gould fell short on each occasion until the 2016 German Masters when he beat the likes of Mark Williams, Judd Trump and Graeme Dott before overcoming Luca Brecel 9-5 in the final to enter the winner’s enclosure at long last.

Anthony McGill plays a shot (Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Anthony McGill

World ranking: 18
DOB: 05/02/1991
Home town: Glasgow
Professional since: 2010
Ranking titles: 2
Career high break: 144

One of the brightest young talents in the game and with a terrific temperament and level of determination to match, Anthony McGill certainly has the talent and potential to achieve big things for many years to come.

A regular practice partner of compatriot Alan McManus, the Scotsman turned professional in 2010 but truly announced himself at the 2015 World Championship – beating Stephen Maguire on his Crucible debut, before knocking out reigning champion Mark Selby on the way to reaching the quarter-finals.

His impressive performances and humorous personality made McGill a crowd favourite in Sheffield, where he caused another shock the following year by defeating former winner Shaun Murphy in the opening round.

The first ranking title of his career followed less than three months later when he won the 2016 Indian Open to climb into the world’s top 16, and added a second at the Shootout the following February.

Stephen Maguire lines up a shot (Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Stephen Maguire

World ranking: 19
DOB: 13/03/1981
Home town: Glasgow
Professional since: 1998
Ranking titles: 5
Career high break: 147 (Three times)

With five ranking titles and three maximum breaks to his name, Stephen Maguire is regarded as one of the most successful players to come out of Scotland.

Approaching two decades as a professional, the Glaswegian made his breakthrough at the 2004 European Open when, ranked 41 in the world, he beat Jimmy White 9-3 in the final, before adding the UK Championship later that year – thrashing David Gray 10-1 in the showpiece as he climbed to third in the rankings.

The Northern Ireland Trophy and China Open followed during the 2007/08 season, as Maguire climbed to a career high of second in the world but it was not until the 2013 Welsh Open that he would lift another ranking title.

He may have slipped out of the top 16 but the Scotsman reached the Riga Masters final at the start of this campaign – showing that his desire is still there and not to be written off just yet.

David Gilbert takes a shot (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

David Gilbert

World ranking: 20
DOB: 12/06/1981
Home town: Derby
Professional since: 2002
Career high break: 147

Ranked number 20 in the world, David Gilbert is one of the players really knocking on the door of snooker’s elite top 16.

Despite qualifying for the World Championship on three occasions, the Angry Farmer was considered somewhat of a journeyman having never progressed beyond the Last 16 of any ranking event until the 2015 International Championship.

There, Gilbert beat the likes Ryan Day and Marco Fu on the way to reaching the final where, despite holding his own against John Higgins at 4-4, he eventually succumbed to a 9-5 defeat.

Nevertheless, the cheque for £65,000 is the highest of his career to date and, although yet to really build on that run, another strong showing at a big tournament is all it would take to propel the Tamworth cueist into the top 16.

Mark King plays a shot (Michael Ellison)

Mark King

World ranking: 21
DOB: 28/03/1974
Home town: Romford
Professional since: 1991
Ranking titles: 1
Career high break: 146

One of the game’s stalwarts within the top 32, Mark King can also now proudly call himself a ranking event winner.

Despite being ranked in the world’s top 32 for the best part of two decades, King was very much considered a journeyman, having reached just two ranking event finals up to the start of last season.

They came at the 1997 Welsh Open and 2004 Irish Masters, where he lost 9-2 to Stephen Hendry and 10-7 to Peter Ebdon respectively.

However, his fairytale moment finally arrived at the 2016 Northern Ireland Open – 25 years after turning professional – where he beat the likes of Liang Wenbo and Kyren Wilson along the way, before recovering from 5-1 down to stun Barry Hawkins 9-8 in a dramatic final.

The Romford cueist was joined by his family to celebrate an emotional victory while he also paid tribute to his father, who had lent him the money just to enter the event in the first place!

Joe Perry lines up a shot (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Joe Perry

World ranking: 22
DOB: 13/08/1974
Home town: Wisbech
Professional since: 1991
Ranking titles: 1
Career high break: 145

Joe Perry is another of the game’s stalwarts always ranked within or on the outskirts of the world’s top 16.

Despite reaching the semi-finals of the UK Championship and World Championship since turning professional in 1991, Perry was very much in the category of being one of snooker’s journeymen.

After losing in the final of the 2001 European Open and 2014 Wuxi Classic, the Gentleman made it third time lucky at the 2015 Players Championship – recovering from 3-0 down to stun Mark Williams 4-3 in the final.

It was the first ranking success of Perry’s 23-year professional career and the Cambridge cueist followed that up with a run to the final of the 2017 Masters where, after leading 4-1 and having a real go against Ronnie O’Sullivan, he eventually succumbed 10-7.

The 42-year-old has since dropped out of the top 16 and subsequently failed to qualify for the World Championship after a series of below-par performances, but will be eager to secure a return to the elite bracket as soon as possible this season. 

Ricky Walden eyes up a shot (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Ricky Walden

World ranking: 23
DOB: 11/11/1982
Home town: Chester
Professional since: 2001
Ranking titles: 3
Career high break: 147

Ricky Walden is somewhat of a Far East specialist having won all three of his ranking event titles in China.

After turning professional in 2001, Walden made his breakthrough seven years later at the Shanghai Masters – beating Stephen Hendry, Neil Robertson, Steve Davis and Mark Selby, before a 10-8 victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final secured a fairytale victory.

His solid form eventually saw him climb into the world’s top 16 and a second ranking title followed at the 2012 Wuxi Classic, while he also captured the International Championship in 2014.

Despite reaching a further three finals, back problems have resulted in a decline in form in recent years and, subsequently, dropping out of the elite bracket.

However, having also reached the semi-finals of the World and UK Championship, there is no doubt in regards to Walden’s quality and, once injury-free, you would fancy him to return to the top 16 very soon.

Michael Holt plays a shot (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Michael Holt

World ranking: 24
DOB: 07/08/1978
Home town: Nottingham
Professional since: 1996
Career high break: 145

Michael Holt is a typical example of a player enjoying the best form of his career well into his late thirties.

Very much a journeyman since turning professional in 1998, Holt’s temperament and mental strength appeared to provide huge barriers that prevented him from making any great strides in the game and breaking into the world’s top 16.

However, working with highly regarded coach Terry Griffiths has coincided with an upturn in form and fortune in recent years. 

He reached his first-ever ranking event semi-final at the 2013 Shanghai Masters and enjoyed a strong run to the 2016 Riga Masters showpiece – beating Mark Selby, Stuart Bingham, Anthony McGill and Mark Williams, before losing out to Neil Robertson.

Nevertheless, that demonstrated just how far Holt has come in recent years and, if he can develop some consistent form in reaching the latter stages of big events, the Hitman could well break down that barrier and climb into the top 16.

Anthony Hamilton lines up a shot (Getty Images)

Anthony Hamilton

World ranking: 25
DOB: 29/06/1971
Home town: Nottingham
Professional since: 1991
Ranking titles: 1
Career high break: 145

Widely considered one of the best players never to win a ranking event, Anthony Hamilton has shaken off that unwanted tag once and for all.

Despite spending five seasons ranked within the world’s top 16 and 15 in the top 32, the Sheriff of Pottingham could only boast two ranking event final defeats – narrowly losing out at the 1999 British Open and 2002 China Open.

He then narrowly avoided relegation from the tour in the 2015/16 season – surviving via the European Tour Order of Merit after winning two matches at the Gdynia Open – but has not looked back since.

Playing with the freedom of a fresh start, Hamilton reached the English Open quarter-finals and semi-finals of the Northern Ireland Open – later admitting having to borrow money from his father for the entry fees.

The 45-year-old then claimed the first title of his 26-year career – beating Mark Williams, Mark Selby, Barry Hawkins and Stuart Bingham, before recovering from 5-2 down to stun Ali Carter 9-6 in the final and become the oldest ranking event winner since Doug Mountjoy in 1989.

Michael White plays a shot (Getty Images)

Michael White

World ranking: 26
DOB: 05/07/1991
Home town: Neath
Professional since: 2007
Ranking titles: 2
Career high break: 145

One of snooker’s most naturally gifted talents; there is no doubt that Michael White has the ability to win the titles to match.

Everybody became aware of White’s potential when, aged nine, he became the youngest player to make a century in competitive play, before winning the World Amateur title just five years later.

After turning professional in 2007, the Welshman made steady progress through the rankings before climbing into the world’s top 32 for the first time seven years later following his second consecutive appearance at the World Championship.

White had reached the quarter-finals the previous year but the best two weeks of his career came at the start of March 2015 when, following a dramatic victory in the final few seconds at the Shootout, he claimed his maiden ranking title at the Indian Open – whitewashing Ricky Walden 5-0 in the final.

‘Lightning’ would eventually climb into the world’s top 16, but has since fallen out and returning during the 2017/18 season will be at the top of his priority list.

Luca Brecel plays a shot with the rest (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Luca Brecel

World ranking: 27
DOB: 08/03/1995
Home town: Dilsen-Stokkem, Belgium
Professional since: 2011
Ranking titles: 1
Career high break: 140

Luca Brecel is another of the game’s brightest young natural talents, but is still awaiting the breakthrough in order to truly underline his potential.

The Belgian first gained recognition in 2009 when, aged just 14, he became the youngest winner of the European Under-19 Championship and received a wildcard onto the main tour just two years later.

Brecel wasted no time in creating headlines as he became the youngest-ever player to qualify for the World Championship – aged just 17 years and one month – but had to wait another five years for his next appearance at the Crucible.

During that period, the Bullet reached the 2012 UK Championship quarter-finals and semi-finals of the 2015 Welsh Open, before reaching his first ranking final at the 2016 German Masters.

Brecel would eventually lose 9-5 to Martin Gould but has subsequently climbed into the world’s top 32 and, although still only 22, he will be eager to really kick on in the near future.

Ben Woollaston ponders his shot selection (Getty Images)

Ben Woollaston

World ranking: 28
DOB: 14/05/1987
Home town: Leicester
Professional since: 2003
Career high break: 147

Ben Woollaston is one of the players to have become very much established within the world’s top 32 in recent years.

Having first turned professional as a 16-year-old in 2003, it wasn’t until the 2011/12 season that the Leicester cueist lifted the first silverware of his career – capturing the third Players Tour Championship event of the campaign in Sheffield.

However, Woollaston struggled to make any real strides in full ranking tournaments before his run to the 2015 Welsh Open final.

He beat the likes of Mark Davis, Mark Allen, Ali Carter and Mark Williams along the way, before eventually succumbing 9-3 to an inspired John Higgins in the showpiece.

The 30-year-old is not the only Woollaston on the circuit, as wife Tatiana is establishing herself as one of the leading referees in the sport.

Alan McManus lines up a shot (Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Alan McManus

World ranking: 29
DOB: 21/01/1971
Home town: Glasgow
Professional since: 1990
Ranking titles: 2
Career high break: 143

One of the snooker’s great stalwarts, Alan McManus is still going strong in the top 32 of the world rankings.

After turning professional in 1990, McManus took just two seasons to climb into the world’s top 16, where he would remain until the end of the 2005/06 campaign.

During that period, he won two ranking titles at the 1994 Dubai Classic and 1996 Thailand Open and climbed to a career high of sixth in the world rankings, while his greatest achievement came when he captured the 1994 Masters – beating Stephen Hendry 9-8 in the final.

The Scotsman’s outstanding all-round knowledge of the game has earned him the nickname ‘Angles’ and, after sliding down the rankings, he has enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence in recent years.

Four consecutive qualifications for the World Championship from 2013 to 2016 helped him climb back into the top 32, while he showed he still means business by reaching a third Crucible semi-final in the latter.

Graeme Dott lines up a shot (Clint Hughes/Getty Images)

Graeme Dott

World ranking: 30
DOB: 12/05/1977
Home town: Larkhall
Professional since: 1994
Ranking titles: 2
World Champion: 2006
Career high break: 147

One of snooker’s toughest characters on the table, Graeme Dott has demonstrated his ability by reaching the World Championship final on three separate occasions.

After turning professional in 1994, Dott steadily climbed the world rankings before reaching the top 16 just seven years later and reached his first Crucible final in 2004, where he was outclassed 18-8 by Ronnie O’Sullivan.

He returned to the Sheffield showpiece just two years later when, after beating the likes of Neil Robertson and O’Sullivan along the way, Dott enjoyed his finest hour by eventually securing an 18-14 victory over Peter Ebdon.

The Pocket Dynamo then captured the 2007 China Open on the way to reaching a career high of second in the world rankings, but a severe bout of depression coincided with a huge slump in form that would eventually see him fall out of the top 16.

However, he returned the following year after another run to the World Championship final that included victories over Ebdon, Stephen Maguire, Mark Allen and Mark Selby, before succumbing 18-13 to Neil Robertson.

His ability to produce the goods on the big stage will stand him in good stead to get back into that elite bracket this season. 

Zhou Yuelong addresses the cue ball (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Zhou Yuelong

World ranking: 31
DOB: 24/01/1998
Home town: Chengdu, China
Professional since: 2014
Career high break: 140

One of China’s many success stories, there is no doubt that Zhou Yuelong has the talent and potential to achieve big things in snooker.

Having regularly featured as a Wildcard during the Chinese events before turning professional following his victory in the 2013 IBSF World Championship, the Chengdu cueist came to prominence during his surprise success alongside Yan Bingtao for China B at the 2015 Snooker World Cup.

That victory earned him a place in that year’s Champion of Champions, where he continued to surprise by recovering from 3-1 down to stun reigning World champion Stuart Bingham 4-3 in the opening match of the tournament.

His calmness and embracing of the big stage was evident during that event and he has continued to demonstrate his potential – reaching the Welsh Open quarter-finals last season before qualifying for the World Championship for the first time.

Already in the world’s top 32 and still a teenager, the future certainly looks bright for Zhou.

Dominic Dale plays a shot (Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Dominic Dale

World ranking: 32
DOB: 29/12/1971
Home town: Coventry
Professional since: 1992
Ranking titles: 2
Career high break: 145

There is no doubt about it that Dominic Dale is one of the most flamboyant character on the snooker circuit and, maybe, in the history of the game.

His personality, dress sense and hairstyle make him one of the more recognisable players off the table while, on it, he is the only one to win two ranking events without ever featuring in the world’s top 16.

Dale’s first success came at the 1997 British Open – beating John Higgins 9-6 in the final – while he overcame the likes of Ken Doherty and Mark Selby on the way to capturing the inaugural Shanghai Masters 10 years later.

His love of operatic singing came in useful following his popular victory at the 2014 Shootout, when he offered his own rendition of Frank Sinatra’s My Way to the raucous Blackpool crowd.

Tom Ford plays a shot (Getty Images)

Tom Ford

World ranking: 33
DOB: 17/08/1983
Home town: Glen Parva
Professional since: 2001
Career high break: 147 (Three times)

Tom Ford is a member of an exclusive group of players to have made multiple maximum breaks during competitive play.

After turning professional in 2001, Ford gained recognition when making his first 147 against Steve Davis during the 2007 Grand Prix, despite having just been discharged from hospital with gastroenteritis.

The Leicester cueist then captured two PTC titles in 2010 and 2011 – beating Jack Lisowski and Martin Gould respectively – before reaching the 2015 Riga Open final, where he succumbed 4-1 to Barry Hawkins.

Ford enjoyed an eventful 2016/17 season as he reached the final of the Paul Hunter Classic – losing to Mark Selby – and made his third maximum at the German Masters, while also qualifying for the World Championship to move to the brink of a return to the world’s top 32.

Mark Davis lines up a shot (Getty Images)

Mark Davis

World ranking: 34
DOB: 12/08/1972
Home town: St. Leonards
Professional since: 1991
Career high break: 147 (Two times)

Mark Davis is a typical example of a player to have enjoyed the best snooker of his career in his 40s.

The man from Hastings was somewhat of a journeyman professional up until the start of the 2010s, where his work with Terry Griffiths coincided with him reaching four ranking event semi-finals, including the 2012 UK Championship, on the way to climbing into the world’s top 16.

It was also around this time that Davis became a specialist at the variant format – winning the Six-Red World Championship on three occasions, as well as the 2016 World Seniors Championship.

He may have slipped back down the rankings over the past couple of years but, during the 2017 Championship League, the 44-year-old became the oldest player to make a maximum break in competitive play and, having waited 26 years to achieve snooker’s Holy Grail, he repeated the feat in the same event just 51 days later!

Robert Milkins plays a shot (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Robert Milkins

World ranking: 35
DOB: 06/03/1976
Home town: Gloucester
Professional since: 1995
Career high break: 147 (Two times)

Robert Milkins has arguably now adopted the tag of being the greatest player yet to win a ranking event in his career.

Despite reaching the semi-finals on six occasions – most recently at the 2017 Welsh Open – the Milkman is still yet to go the extra steps required to get his hands on silverware.

Although his natural talent has always been obvious given the pace he adapts around the table, it was not until working with Terry Griffiths in the 2010s that he truly started to underline his ability.

He subsequently climbed into the top 16 for the first time following a string of consistent performances, while also earning a debut at the Masters in 2014.

His trophy cabinet may remain bare but, with recent maiden successes for the likes of Anthony Hamilton and Ryan Day, there is still time for the 41-year-old to put it right.

Jamie Jones plays a shot with the rest (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Jamie Jones

World ranking: 36
DOB: 14/02/1988
Home town: Neath
Professional since: 2006
Career high break: 143

Jamie Jones is a player who knows what it takes to perform on the bigger stages, but will undoubtedly be desperate to appear there on more occasions.

Despite reaching a PTC final in 2010 three years after turning professional, it wasn’t until the 2012 World Championship that Jones truly announced himself to the snooker world.

The Welshman beat former champion Shaun Murphy and Andrew Higginson on his Crucible debut, before narrowly losing 13-11 to eventual runner-up Ali Carter in the quarter-finals.

However, despite reaching the semi-finals of the 2015 Australian Open and 2016 UK Championship quarter-finals, he has struggled to really build on that momentum but the development of consistency could well change his fortunes this season.

Matthew Selt plays a shot with the rest (Getty Images)

Matthew Selt

World ranking: 37
DOB: 07/03/1985
Home town: Romford
Professional since: 2002
Career high break: 143

He is good friends with the likes of Stephen Hendry, Neil Robertson and Judd Trump, and Matthew Selt is eager to try and match their achievements during his career.

Since turning professional in 2002, Selt has reached the quarter-finals of a ranking event on five separate occasions, including the 2015 UK Championship, as well as a PTC final at the 2014 Lisbon Open.
 
Those performances helped lift him to a career high of 21st in the world rankings, but he is yet to really build on that and will be looking to produce more strong displays during the 2017/18 season. 

Jimmy Robertson assesses the table (Clint Hughes/Getty Images)

Jimmy Robertson

World ranking: 38
DOB: 03/05/1986
Home town: Bexhill-on-Sea
Professional since: 2002
Career high break: 142

Jimmy Robertson is one of the players currently knocking on the door for a place in the top 32 of the world rankings.

Since most recently turning professional in 2009, the Sussex cueist has qualified for the Crucible on three occasions – coming through three gruelling qualifying rounds in each of his two most recent appearances.

Robertson has also reached the Last 16 of two ranking events – doing so at the 2015 International Championship and 2016 Riga Masters – but needs to produce similar performances on a more frequent basis in order to break into the top 32.

Xiao Guodong plays a shot with the rest (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Xiao Guodong

World ranking: 39
DOB: 10/02/1989
Home town: Chongqing, China
Professional since: 2007
Career high break: 143

Another of the success stories to hail from China, Xiao Guodong is one of his country’s leading players on the snooker circuit.

After turning professional in 2007, Xiao made his breakthrough with a run to the final of the 2013 Shanghai Masters, where he eventually succumbed 10-6 to Ding Junhui.

He would go on to make his Crucible debut in that same season, while a run to the Australian Open semi-finals during the following campaign helped propel him to a career high of 19 in the rankings.

A poor 2015/16 saw him spiral down to 51st but enjoyed better fortunes last term – reaching the Shootout final as well as qualifying for the World Championship to lift him back to within reach of a return to the top 32.

Peter Ebdon plays a shot (Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Peter Ebdon

World ranking: 40
DOB: 27/08/1970
Home town: Islington
Professional since: 1991
Ranking titles: 9
World Champion: 2002
Career high break: 147 (Two times)

One of the toughest match players you are ever likely to see and famous for adopting a strict vegan diet, Peter Ebdon is also one of the most successful in the history of snooker.

After turning professional in 1991, Ebdon announced himself that same season by defeating six-time World champion Steve Davis on his Crucible debut and climbed to a career high of third in the world rankings just four years later.

Having claimed four ranking titles, the Londoner’s finest hour came at the 2002 World Championship when, despite being pegged back to 17-17 from 10-6 up, he held his nerve to prevail a narrow 18-17 victory over Stephen Hendry.

Hendry was also the victim when Ebdon landed the UK Championship in 2006 and, despite slipping down the rankings in recent years, he has demonstrated his longevity by qualifying for the Crucible on 24 occasions – only three players have appeared there more times.

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh weighs up his options (Getty Images)

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh

World ranking: 41
DOB: 18/04/1985
Home town: Bangkok, Thailand
Professional since: 2009
Career high break: 147

The latest great talent to emerge from Thailand, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh is eager to follow in the footsteps of compatriot James Wattana.

After turning professional in 2009, it wasn’t until the 2015 Indian Open that the left-hander reached the first of four ranking event semi-finals that also included that year’s International Championship, while he captured the invitational Six-Reds World Championship.

Un-Nooh had the notoriety of missing the final black for a 147 on two separate occasions during the 2015/16 campaign – narrowly missing out at the UK Championship, as well as the World Championship qualifying rounds.

However, he finally achieved snooker’s Holy Grail at the 2016 Paul Hunter Classic – earning £40,000 as a result – and is looking to make further strides this season.

Rory McLeod plays a shot (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Rory McLeod

World ranking: 42
DOB: 26/03/1971
Home town: Wellingborough
Professional since: 1991
Career high break: 147

One of the more methodical players on the snooker circuit, Rory McLeod is quickly approaching 30 years as a professional.

After first turning pro in 1991, it wasn’t until the 2009 World Championship that McLeod truly gained recognition in the snooker world – becoming the first black player to appear at the Crucible.

He also made his debut at the Masters the following year after winning the qualifying tournament but his finest hour would come at the 2015 Ruhr Open, where he captured an event carrying ranking points for the first time.

The Highlander has struggled to really build on that triumph, although he did cause one of the biggest upsets in Crucible history when he knocked out pre-tournament favourite Judd Trump in the opening round of the 2017 World Championship.

Mike Dunn plays a shot (Monique Limbos/World Snooker)

Mike Dunn

World ranking: 43
DOB: 20/11/1971
Home town: Redcar
Professional since: 1991
Career high break: 147

Another of the tour’s stalwarts, Mike Dunn will soon be celebrating three decades as a professional.

After turning pro in 1991, the Redcar cueist climbed into the world’s top 64 for the first time after making his World Championship debut 11 years later.

Dunn then had a brief spell inside the top 32 during the 2010/11 season but poor form saw him flirt with relegation from the tour in 2014. 

However, a run to the semi-finals of the China Open – his only appearance at this stage of a ranking event – included an impressive victory over world number one Mark Selby and moved him clear of danger.

He also reached the Last Four of the 2015 Ruhr Open, as well as the quarter-finals of that season’s Players Championship.

David Grace lines up a shot (Getty Images)

David Grace

World ranking: 44
DOB: 05/05/1985
Home town: Leeds
Professional since: 2008
Career high break: 139

Now firmly established inside the world’s top 64, David Grace is looking to make further strides in snooker this season.

After turning professional in 2008, Grace had to wait until the 2015/16 season before he truly announced himself to the snooker world.

His breakthrough came at the UK Championship, where he beat former World champion Peter Ebdon, Martin Gould and Robert Milkins on the way to reaching the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time.

He may have eventually succumbed to Liang Wenbo but that run lifted Grace into the world’s top 64 – a position he has since consolidated by reaching a further two ranking quarter-finals, as well as making debut at the World Championship last season.

A keen artist in his spare time, the Leeds cueist will be eager to paint more chapters in his snooker journey during this campaign.

Fergal O'Brien takes a shot (Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Fergal O'Brien

World ranking: 45
DOB: 08/03/1972
Home town: Dublin
Professional since: 1991
Ranking titles: 1
Career high break: 147 

Another of the more methodical players in the game, Fergal O’Brien has also become one of snooker’s stalwarts on the tour.

After turning professional in 1991, the Dubliner gradually climbed the rankings following a string of consistent performances to a career high of ninth nine years later.

O’Brien made his breakthrough at the 1999 British Open, where he claimed the only ranking title of his career after a 9-7 victory over Anthony Hamilton in the final.

However, his big moment came at the Masters two years later, when he led 7-3 in the final but was on the wrong end of a stunning Paul Hunter comeback to eventually lose out 10-9.

The Irishman dropped out of the top 16 the following season but has remained a mainstay on the tour, and made history by qualifying for the World Championship last season after prevailing in a deciding frame against David Gilbert that lasted a world-record two hours, three minutes and 41 seconds.

Mark Joyce plays a shot (Getty Images)

Mark Joyce

World ranking: 46
DOB: 11/08/1983
Home town: Walsall
Professional since: 2006
Career high break: 143

Mark Joyce has become a mainstay on the world snooker tour but will be aiming for bigger and better things in the near future.

After turning professional in 2006, the Walsall cueist has spent the best part of a decade ranked firmly inside the world’s top 64 – reaching a career high of 31 in November 2014.

Joyce has reached the quarter-finals of a ranking event on four occasions – most recently at this season’s Riga Masters – and is capable of beating anybody on his day.

His most notable victories include beating reigning champion Judd Trump at the 2012 UK Championship and Ronnie O’Sullivan in this year’s China Open, but needs to do so on a regular basis in order to make further strides on the tour.

Stuart Carrington lines up a shot (Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Stuart Carrington

World ranking: 47
DOB: 14/05/1990
Home town: Grimsby
Professional since: 2011
Career high break: 141

Stuart Carrington is a player slowly climbing the world rankings and has already written his name into the Crucible history books.

After falling off the tour during his maiden season in 2011/12, the Grimsby cueist returned a year later and, aided by qualifying for the 2015 World Championship, climbed into the world’s top 64 by the end of that campaign.

Last season saw him reach the quarter-finals of a ranking event for the first time at the Welsh Open, before beating two-time World champion Mark Williams to seal a return to the Crucible.

Despite losing 10-7 to Liang Wenbo, Carrington became only the fifth player to make century breaks in three consecutive frames in Sheffield – joining Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins, Mark Selby and Neil Robertson on a very exclusive list.

Andrew Higginson plays a shot (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Andrew Higginson

World ranking: 48
DOB: 13/12/1977
Home town: Widnes
Professional since: 1996
Career high break: 147

Another of the game’s stalwarts, Andrew Higginson has been on the World Snooker tour for the best part of two decades.

The Widnes cueist first turned professional in 1996 but it was not until the 2007 Welsh Open that he made his breakthrough – becoming the first unranked player to reach a ranking event final since Terry Griffiths 28 years previously.

Higginson beat the likes of Marco Fu, John Higgins, Ali Carter and Stephen Maguire, while also making the first 147 of his career on the way to setting up a showdown with Neil Robertson, who he led 8-6 before eventually succumbing to a narrow 9-8 defeat.

However, ‘the Widnes Warrior’ gradually climbed the rankings to a career high of 18th after claiming his first and only title carrying ranking points at a Players Tour Championship event in 2011.

Yu Delu takes a shot (Getty Images)

Yu Delu

World ranking: 49
DOB: 11/10/1987
Home town: Shanxi Province, China
Professional since: 2011
Career high break: 140

One of an influx of exciting Chinese talent currently on the tour, Yu Delu is a player that has proven he can beat anybody on his day.

After turning professional in 2011, it was not until three years later that he announced himself to the snooker world by earning an impressive 4-3 victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Players Championship Grand Final.

His other notable scalps came last season when he beat compatriot Ding Junhui in the opening round of the Northern Ireland Open, while also overcoming former World champion Stuart Bingham at the UK Championship.

He also reached the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time – doing so at the Scottish Open before losing to eventual champion Marco Fu.

Sam Baird in action (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Sam Baird

World ranking: 50
DOB: 17/06/1988
Home town: Uffculme
Professional since: 2009
Career high break: 142

Sam Baird is a two-time Crucible qualifier still looking to really make a breakthrough in the game.

The Devonian turned professional in 2009 and has since gone on to reach the Last 16 of a ranking event on six occasions.

However, the most significant of these came at the 2016 World Championship – three years after making his Crucible debut – beating Michael White in the opening round before, despite levelling with eventual champion Mark Selby at 11-11 from 11-7 down, finally succumbing to a narrow 13-11 defeat.

Baird rose into the world’s top 50 for the first time as a result, and claimed some good scalps last season in beating the likes of John Higgins and Marco Fu along the way.

Tian Pengfei lines up a shot (Chinafotopress/Getty Images)

Tian Pengfei

World ranking: 51
DOB: 16/08/1987
Home town: Dalian, China
Professional since: 2006
Career high break: 139

Another of the mainstays on the tour from the Far East, Tian Pengfei is just in need of a breakthrough to make strides in the game.

The Dalian cueist, who is a four-time gold medallist at the Asian Games, first gained recognition on the professional scene as a wildcard in his home events – claiming an incredible 5-3 victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan at the 2010 China Open, while also beating Mark Selby and Joe Perry in that year’s Wuxi Classic.

His best achievement to date came when he beat the likes of Shaun Murphy, Alan McManus and David Gilbert to reach the final of the 2015 Ruhr Open, before losing 4-2 to Rory McLeod.

Robbie Williams eyes up the pink (Getty Images)

Robbie Williams

World ranking: 52
DOB: 28/12/1986
Home town: Wallasey
Professional since: 2012
Career high break: 144

With a ranking event semi-final and three Crucible qualifications, Robbie Williams certainly knows what it takes to perform on the big stage.

After turning professional in 2012, the Wirral cueist took just over a year to reach the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time – doing so at the Indian Open.

He went on to secure his World Championship debut in that same season, while he also qualified for the next two editions of the Crucible to climb into the top 50 of the world rankings.

Kurt Maflin looks on (Clint Hughes/Getty Images)

Kurt Maflin

World ranking: 53
DOB: 08/08/1983
Home town: Southwark
Professional since: 2000
Career high break: 147 (Two times)

Kurt Maflin is among a select group of players to have made multiple maximum breaks in professional competition.

The English-Norwegian cueist turned professional in 2000 but it wasn’t until the 2013 PTC Grand Final that he reached the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time.

He matched that feat at the 2015 China Open – beating the likes of Ali Carter and Shaun Murphy along the way – and gave a very good account on his Crucible debut later that month when, despite leading reigning champion Mark Selby 9-8 from 8-4 down, he eventually succumbed to a narrow 10-9 defeat.

Jack Lisowski takes aim (Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Jack Lisowski

World ranking: 54
DOB: 25/06/1991
Home town: Cheltenham
Professional since: 2010
Career high break: 147

A naturally gifted player and regular practice partner of the likes of Judd Trump, Jack Lisowski is still looking for a breakthrough to underline his potential.

Lisowski first gained recognition in 2009 when he was awarded the inaugural Paul Hunter Scholarship and turned professional the following year.

The Cheltenham cueist made a strong start to life on the tour – reaching two PTC finals, reaching the quarter-finals of the 2013 China Open and qualifying for the Crucible for the first time as he climbed to 34th in the world rankings.

However, despite also getting to the Last Eight of the 2017 Gibraltar Open, ‘Jackpot’ has struggled to really build on that momentum and will be looking to do so over the course of this season.

Matthew Stevens assesses the table (Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Matthew Stevens

World ranking: 55
DOB: 11/09/1977
Home town: Camarthen
Professional since: 1994
Career high break: 147

One of the most naturally gifted players in the game, Matthew Stevens has also completed two-thirds of the Triple Crown.

The Welshman showed great potential after turning professional in 1994 and enjoyed arguably the best season of his career in 1999/2000 – winning the Masters as well as reaching the final of the UK and World Championship.

He won the first and only ranking title of his career at the 2003 UK Championship before reaching a second Crucible final two years later to climb to fourth in the world rankings.

However, off-table problems led to a slump in form and he subsequently dropped out of the top 16 in 2007. Despite returning to the elite bracket five years later after an improvement in fortunes, his stay was brief and he would love to return to those heights before too long. 

Yan Bingtao bridges over a ball (Michael Ellison)

Yan Bingtao

World ranking: 56
DOB: 16/02/2000
Home town: China
Professional since: 2016
Career high break: 136

The first active professional born in the 2000s, Yan Bingtao is a very astute player for someone so young and undoubtedly has the ability to go on to big things in snooker.

He became the youngest-ever winner of the World Amateur Championship in 2014 and gained global recognition alongside Zhou Yuelong during their World Cup success for China B the following year.

He claimed a huge scalp at the 2015 Champion of Champions by beating Shaun Murphy in the opening round, while also overcoming the former World champion on the way to reaching the quarter-finals of the 2017 German Masters during his first season on the tour.

That was the best performance of the 17-year-old’s short career so far and, should he continue to progress in the right direction with the correct guidance, it is frightening to think what the future may hold for him.

Gary Wilson in action (Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Gary Wilson

World ranking: 57
DOB: 11/08/1985
Home town: Wallsend
Professional since: 2004
Career high break: 147 (Two times)

A ranking event finalist and Crucible qualifier, Gary Wilson is slowly starting to underline the potential that first drew attention to the snooker world.

One of the most promising young players in the country, the Wallsend cueist was unable to really make strides in the professional game and was forced to work as a taxi driver to make ends meet.

However, he found a route back onto the tour in 2013 and has since established his professional status within the world’s top 64, while being one of a select group of players to make multiple maximum breaks.

Wilson beat Ricky Walden, Barry Hawkins and Ding Junhui to reach the final of the 2015 China Open – climbing into the top 32 of the rankings as a result – and qualified for the World Championship for the first time two years later.

He gave a very good account against Ronnie O’Sullivan on his Crucible debut – recovering from 5-1 down to only trail 9-7 – before eventually succumbing to a 10-7 defeat.

Li Hang plays a shot (Getty Images)

Li Hang

World ranking: 58
DOB: 04/10/1990
Home town: Jinzhou, China
Professional since: 2008
Career high break: 141

Another of China’s ever-growing influx of players, Li Hang will be aiming to move away from the top 64 and into the higher echelons of the game.

The Jinzhou cueist, who first turned professional in 2008, reached his first professional final at an Asian Tour event four years later, where he narrowly lost 4-3 to Stuart Bingham.

He reached the Last 16 of a full ranking event on four occasions but made his breakthrough with a run to the semi-finals of the 2017 China Championship, where he knocked out former World champions in Neil Robertson and Mark Williams, before a narrow 6-5 defeat to Luca Brecel denied him a fairy-tale final appearance.

Hossein Vafaei works out his angles (Getty Images)

Hossein Vafaei

World ranking: 59
DOB: 14/09/1994
Home town: Abadan, Iran
Professional since: 2012
Career high break: 138

Iran’s number one player, Hossein Vafaei is demonstrating the potential to climb even further in the world rankings before too long.

Vafaei first turned professional in 2012 but visa problems meant it wasn’t until last season that he really began to show his potential.

The Iranian embarked on a run to the Northern Ireland Open quarter-finals as well as the Last 16 of the Welsh Open, before beating Joe Perry and Judd Trump on the way to the China Open semis – his best performance in a ranking event to date and lifted him into the world’s top 64 for the first time.

Another astute player for someone so young with brilliant tactical play, he could be one of the players to make a big impact this term.

Oliver Lines takes aim (Getty Images)

Oliver Lines

World ranking: 60
DOB: 16/06/1995
Home town: Seacroft
Professional since: 2014
Career high break: 139

One of the game’s brightest young talents from British shores, Oliver Lines has plenty of potential to go all the way in snooker.

Son of fellow professional Peter, Lines Jr. turned professional in 2014 after winning the European Under-21 Championship and made an impact almost immediately – recovering from 4-0 down to stun reigning World champion Mark Selby 6-4 in the International Championship qualifiers.

He also reached the final of the Asian Tour’s Haining Open the following month and secured his place within the world’s top 64 the following season.

The Leeds cueist got to the Last 16 of the Indian Open and UK Championship during the 2016/17 campaign – notably beating world number three Judd Trump in the latter – and will continue to keep plucking away on the tour this term.

Alfie Burden celebrates (Getty Images)

Alfie Burden

World ranking: 61
DOB: 14/12/1976
Home town: Paddington
Professional since: 1994
Career high break: 147

A veteran of the main tour and now 40 years young, Alfie Burden will be eager to start climbing the rankings once more.

The Londoner was a promising young footballer before a broken leg ended his dream, but turned to snooker and turned professional at the age of 18 in 1994.

Despite qualifying for the 1998 World Championship and being labelled as the next Jimmy White, Burden struggled to build on his potential and fell off the tour in 2008.

He returned two years later after winning the World Amateur Championship and has since reached the quarter-finals of a ranking event on three occasions, as well as making the first maximum break of his career at last season’s English Open.

Daniel Wells lines up a shot (World Snooker)

Daniel Wells

World ranking: 62
DOB: 31/07/1988
Home town: Neath
Professional since: 2008
Career high break: 136

Approaching the best part of a decade on the tour, Daniel Wells is only just starting to demonstrate his talent in the professional game.

Awarded the inaugural Paul Hunter Scholarship in 2007, the Welshman turned professional the following year but, despite showing good potential, was relegated the first time in 2010 and again in 2014.

However, Wells has enjoyed an upturn in fortune since returning two years ago. The decision to use a new cue at the start of last season paid dividends, as he reached the Last 16 of the World Open and China Open on the way to climbing into the world’s top 64 for the first time.

Noppon Saengkham takes a shot (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Noppon Saengkham

World ranking: 63
DOB: 15/07/1992
Home town: Samut Prakan Province, Thailand
Professional since: 2010
Career high break: 136

Another promising talent from the Far East, Noppon Saengkham could be the next player from Thailand to take the snooker world by storm.

The Samut Prakan Province cueist first turned professional in 2010, but had to wait until the 2016 China Open before he reached the quarter-finals of a ranking event for the first time.

However, his finest achievement to date came at the end of last season, when he qualified for the World Championship for the first time. 

Saengkham was drawn against former champion Neil Robertson and, despite rallying on his debut, eventually succumbed to a 10-4 defeat. 

Chris Wakelin eyes up a shot (Tai Chengzhe/World Snooker)

Chris Wakelin

World ranking: 64
DOB: 16/03/1992
Home town: Rugby
Professional since: 2013
Career high break: 136

Luck may have played in a part in him turning professional, but it is fair to say that Chris Wakelin has made the most of his opportunity.

The Rugby cueist qualified for the main tour via Q School in 2013 when, during his final match, opponent Adam Wicheard accidentally snapped his cue in half and was forced to concede – handing Wakelin victory and a place on the circuit.

After a steady start, he reached the quarter-finals of the 2015 Indian Open and matched that feat at the following year’s English Open – beating Ronnie O’Sullivan along the way – to climb into the world’s top 64 for the first time.

Scott Donaldson plays a shot with the rest (Getty Images)

Scott Donaldson

World ranking: 65
DOB: 19/03/1994
Home town: Perth, Scotland
Professional since: 2012
Career high break: 137

One of Scotland’s promising young talents, Scott Donaldson is aiming to emulate the feats of the likes of Stephen Hendry and John Higgins.

The Perth cueist turned professional in 2012 after winning the EBSA European Snooker Championship and, during his second season on the tour, enjoyed runs to the Last 16 of the Wuxi Classic and Welsh Open.

It was in Wales that Donaldson recorded his best performance in a ranking event to date in 2017 – beating the likes of Jack Lisowski, Mark King and Mark Davis on the way to reaching the semi-finals, where he eventually succumbed 6-3 to Judd Trump.

Zhang Anda in action (Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Zhang Anda

World ranking: 66
DOB: 25/12/1991
Home town: China
Professional since: 2009
Career high break: 139

Another of the batch of Chinese talent on the circuit, Zhang Anda certainly knows what it takes to perform on the big stage.

Nicknamed ‘the Mighty Mouse’ due to his height of 5’3’’, Zhang turned professional in 2009 and qualified for the World Championship in his first season on the tour.

He immediately gained recognition by taking seven-time champion Stephen Hendry all the way on his Crucible debut, before eventually succumbing 10-9.

The 25-year-old has also reached the final stages in Sheffield in two of the last three years, while his best performance in a ranking event has seen him reach the Last 16 on five occasions.

John Astley lines up a shot (Getty Images)

John Astley

World ranking: 67
DOB: 13/01/1989
Home town: Gateshead
Professional since: 2013
Career high break: 138

Knocking on the door of the world's top 64, John Astley is certainly heading in the right direction on the World Snooker tour.

The Gateshead cueist turned professional in 2013 and, despite being relegated two years later, returned in 2016 and has made a much bigger impact the second time around.

Astley reached the quarter-finals of the 2016 Riga Masters - his best performance in a ranking event to date - and has beaten the likes of Shaun Murphy, Kyren Wilson and Peter Ebdon since regaining his place on the circuit.

He can also boast an appearance at the Crucible, albeit alongside the likes of Jack O'Connell and Ralf Little during Richard Bean's play The Nap.

Liam Highfield takes aim with the rest (Getty Images)

Liam Highfield

World ranking: 68
DOB: 01/12/1990
Home town: Swindon
Professional since: 2010
Career high break: 139

Born in Swindon but bred in Stoke-on-Trent, Liam Highfield is another player eager to break into the world's top 64.

Highfield made a promising start to life after turning professional in 2010 - reaching the semi-finals of a PTC event in Gloucester - but struggled to really build on that and was relegated from the tour four years later.

However, he secured an immediate return and notably beat reigning World champion Mark Selby on the way to reaching the Last 16 of the European Tour's Gdynia Open later in the 2014/15 season.

Despite missing out on World Championship qualification by a single frame at the end of the following campaign, the left-hander enjoyed his best performance in a ranking event during 2016/17 - reaching the Last 16 at the Paul Hunter Classic and UK Championship.

Lee Walker eyes up his possibilities (Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images)

Lee Walker

World ranking: 69
DOB: 11/02/1976
Home town: Newport
Professional since: 1994
Career high break: 140

One of the veterans on the main tour, Lee Walker has proven he is still capable of producing the goods into his 40s.

The Newport cueist turned professional in 1994 and enjoyed the best moment of his career when reaching the World Championship quarter-finals three years later - beating Dave Harold and Alan McManus along the way.

Walker also qualified for the Crucible in 2004, when he earned a credible first-round win against Stephen Lee, but it wasn't until the 2017 Welsh Open that he truly returned to the limelight.

Inspired at his home event, the 41-year-old beat Jimmy White and former World champions Neil Robertson and Graeme Dott on the way to reaching the Last 16, where he eventually succumbed to rising Chinese star Zhou Yuelong.

Mei Xiwen looks on (World Snooker)

Mei Xiwen

World ranking: 70
DOB: 08/10/1982
Home town: China
Professional since: 2009
Career high break: 133

One of the older Chinese players within the ever-growing influx, Mei Xiwen is enjoying a much more progressive second spell on the main tour.

The 34-year-old was relegated after managing just two wins during his debut season in 2009/2010, but regularly appeared at the Asian Tour events before returning to the professional circuit in 2016.

He started well by beating former World champions Graeme Dott and Mark Williams to reach the Last 16 of the Shanghai Masters, and matched that performance at the Welsh Open after overcoming the likes of Peter Ebdon and Mark Allen along the way.

Hammad Miah weighs up his options (World Snooker)

Hammad Miah

World ranking: 71
DOB: 06/07/1993
Home town: Hertford
Professional since: 2013
Career high break: 129

Hammad Miah is a young English player that is showing steady signs of improvement on the World Snooker tour.

Despite reaching the Last 32 of the 2013 Indian Open during his debut season, Miah struggled to build on that and was subsequently relegated two years later.

However, as an amateur, he appeared at the European Tour events and claimed a huge scalp in defeating Judd Trump at the Ruhr Open on the way to regaining his professional status for the 2016/17 season.

The Hertford cueist came close to qualifying for the World Championship after producing a brilliant comeback from 7-0 down to only trail Rory McLeod 7-6 in the final round, but eventually succumbed to a 10-7 defeat.

Michael Georgiou assesses the table (Monique Limbos)

Michael Georgiou

World ranking: 72
DOB: 18/01/1988
Home town: Forest Hill
Professional since: 2008
Career high break: 139

Cyprus' number one player, Michael Georgiou finds himself just a couple of strong runs away from breaking into the world's top 64.

Following a hugely disappointing debut season in 2008/09 when he won just one match, Georgiou has enjoyed much better fortunes the second time around.

He enjoyed a strong run to the Last 16 of the 2015 Welsh Open in his first campaign back - beating former World champion Graeme Dott along the way - while he matched his best-ever performance in a ranking event by reaching the same stage of last season's Shoot-Out.

Ian Preece

World ranking: 73
DOB: 23/06/1982
Home town: Newport
Professional since: 2003
Career high break: 139

Despite only being 35 years of age, Ian Preece is a player that appears to have been around for a lot longer than his seven seasons on the main tour.

The Newport cueist first turned professional in 2003 but, after being relegated the following year, had to wait until the 2009 Welsh Open to make his first appearance in the Last 32 of a ranking event.

There, he beat the likes of Peter Lines, Andrew Higginson and future World champion Stuart Bingham during the days when he was ranked a career high of 55th in the world, but is still to really build on that in the years that have followed.

Zhao Xintong plays a shot with the rest (Getty Images)

Zhao Xintong

World ranking: 74
DOB: 03/04/1997
Home town: Shaanxi
Professional since: 2015
Career high break: 142

One of the most promising young talents from the Far East, there is no doubt that Zhao Xintong has the potential to achieve big things in snooker.

Born in Shaanxi, Zhao gained a reputation as a bogey player for the scalps he claimed as a Wildcard in the Chinese ranking events.

He earned the nickname 'The Wildcard Menace' after thumping 1997 World champion Ken Doherty 6-0 at the 2012 International Championship, before comfortably sweeping aside six-time Crucible King Steve Davis 6-1 on the way to reaching the Last 16 the following year.

Davis would later say: "This boy was astonishingly good and better than anybody I have ever seen at that age - and that includes Ronnie O'Sullivan!"

Following several near-misses, including losing to Duane Jones on the black during the final 2015 Q School event, Zhao qualified for the main tour as the runner-up of the 2015 IBSF World Championship Final and the 20-year-old has continued to impress - notably beating former World champion John Higgins on the way to reaching the Last 16 of the 2017 German Masters.

James Wattana looks on (Andrew Wong/Getty Images)

James Wattana

World ranking: 75
DOB: 17/01/1970
Home town: Bangkok
Professional since: 1989
Ranking titles: 3
Career high break: 147 (Three times)

The first snooker star from Asia, James Wattana's exploits on the green baize have inspired a new generation to take up the game.

After turning professional in 1989, the Thai-Phoon reached the semi-finals of the Grand Prix in his first season and won the first of three ranking titles at the 1992 Strachan Open on the way to climbing into the world's top 16.

Wattana also won back-to-back Thailand Open crowns in 1994 and 1995 as he rose to a career high of third in the world rankings, while he reached the semi-finals of the World and UK Championship on two occasions and the 1993 Masters final as well as making three maximum breaks.

Although, a downturn in fortunes saw him slip down the rankings and eventually fell off the tour in 2008, then again in 2014.

Nevertheless, Wattana has embraced the opportunity of being awarded an invitational tour card for his services to snooker and, now approaching his late 40s, continues to roll back the years from time to time.

Mitchell Mann plays a shot (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Mitchell Mann

World ranking: 76
DOB: 26/12/1991
Home town: Birmingham
Professional since: 2014
Career high break: 142

Aditya Mehta looks on (Getty Images)

Aditya Mehta

World ranking: 77
DOB: 31/10/1985
Home town: Maharashtra
Professional since: 2008
Career high break: 147

Sam Craigie takes aim (World Snooker)

Sam Craigie

World ranking: 78
DOB: 29/12/1993
Home town: Newcastle
Professional since: 2011
Career high break: 137

Ken Doherty bridges over the reds (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Ken Doherty

World ranking: 79
DOB: 17/09/1969
Home town: Dublin
Professional since: 1990
Ranking titles: 6
World Champion: 1997
Career high break: 147

Jak Jones weighs up his options (Getty Images)

Jak Jones

World ranking: 80
DOB: 29/07/1993
Home town: Cwmbran
Professional since: 2010
Career high break: 139

Wang Yuchen plays a shot with the rest (Getty Images)

Wang Yuchen

World ranking: 81
DOB: 05/08/1997
Home town: Henan
Professional since: 2016
Career high break: 122

Wang Yuchen is another young Chinese prodigy to have earned kudos during the Wildcard rounds in his home events.

As a 16-year-old, he attracted plenty of attention by beating established top-16 player Joe Perry at that stage of the 2013 Shanghai Masters.

Wang earned his place on the main tour after winning the Asian Under-21 Snooker Championship three years later, and has already overcome the likes of former ranking event winner Rory McLeod and 2012 Crucible quarter-finalist Jamie Jones during his short professional career.

However, his finest moment came in the opening round of the UK Championship, when he recovered from 4-1 down to beat 2002 World Champion Peter Ebdon 6-5 in a nail-biting decider at the York Barbican Centre.

Elliot Slessor lines up a shot

Elliot Slessor

World ranking: 82
DOB: 04/08/1994
Home town: Gateshead
Professional since: 2013
Career high break: 136

Craig Steadman takes aim (Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Craig Steadman

World ranking: 83
DOB: 14/07/1982
Home town: Farnworth
Professional since: 2009
Career high break: 143

Fang Xiongman sets his sights (Getty Images)

Fang Xiongman

World ranking: 84
DOB: 09/04/1993
Home town: China
Professional since: 2016
Career high break: 142

Alex Borg lines up a shot (World Snooker)

Alex Borg

World ranking: 85
DOB: 05/06/1969
Home town: Malta
Professional since: 1991
Career high break: 135

Cao Yupeng addresses the cue-ball (Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Cao Yupeng

World ranking: 86
DOB: 27/10/1990
Home town: Guangzhou
Professional since: 2011
Career high break: 143

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