Every year for the last 15 years or more, every snooker pundit in the land would have had Ronnie O’Sullivan as the first name down on the list, however, the "Rocket" appears to have an aversion to winning tournaments these days and has dropped down to number 12 in the world Snooker rankings. It would be no surprise if he was to bounce back; after all, he is the most capable player on the planet on his day. However, one attribute he no longer has is reliability and to that end, it is a great opportunity for some other players to steal the spotlight O'Sullivan has dominated for so long, here are five players who can make an impact at the major tournaments over the coming months.
Currently at the top of the world rankings, the "Jester from Leicester" has been in a rich vein of form in 2011, appearing in the final of both the German Masters and China Open, where he lost in very close games against Mark Williams and Judd Trump respectively. He set a new record for the most century breaks at the World Championships in May, but could only make the last eight in the tournament, going down to Ding Junhui of China. However he won his last tournament, the Shanghai Masters in September after a thrilling battle with Williams which saw him come back from a 7-9 deficit to win 10-9. If he continues in that kind of form he is sure to feature in the latter stages of more ranking events and will be top of the snooker betting heading in to every tournament.
After a few years in the wilderness, Mark Williams is well and truly back to his best and has climbed back from snooker obscurity to the number two spot in the world rankings. He is a two time World Champion and a player who has won 18 ranking tournaments since turning professional in 1992. He has also been runner up in ten more and has also won the Masters tournament twice. Like Selby his recent form has been 'top drawer', making three finals this year already, winning the German Masters, before finishing runner up in the Australian Open and the Shanghai Masters. He was involved in a thrilling battle with John Higgins in the semi final at the World Championship, but had to accept second best again to the Scot; losing a classic match, 14-17. However, a return to former glories are not too far away and his objective will be to win a third World Championship next April.
The "Wizard of Wishaw" for many, is still the player to beat on the circuit, particularly in the big events. Higgins won his fourth World Championship earlier this year and is also the reigning Welsh Open and UK champion, tournaments he won after being suspended by the snooker’s governing body. His World Championship win was particularly poignant as it came in the wake of his father’s death. His recent form has been reasonable with two quarter final finishes and although he is only currently ranked third in the world behind Selby and Williams, there is absolutely no doubt that when the UK Championship begins in December he will be back to his best.
Written by Rod Crowley