Hi guys, I'd like to open this article by saying my friend Craig actually wrote this article for me, he's a real big snooker fan and I have been trying to get him to sign up to Scorum to start writing as he has a talent for it in several under written niches like Snooker and Weight Lifting. For now though I actually paid for his services for this article so please throw your weight behind it and it may just convince him to sign up and start enriching this site with his word smithery!
Snooker’s a much more complex game these days, am I right? Though the rules and parameters of the game itself haven’t changed, the post-Hendry era has undoubtedly seen the game become more aggressive, with players’ styles more attacking, and (comparatively) less emphasis on scrappy, 10-visit frames. Gone are the days where a player can utterly thrill an audience or make commentators swoon with a standard long red potted from just behind the baulk line. I mean, even I’ve been known to knock in the odd long red, and I’ve got all the skill and experience of a partially-sighted, generic tour player from the 1990s.
That being said, there’s rarely a tournament that goes by that doesn’t involve some seriously impressive shots, particularly ones where big names – from O’Sullivan and Higgins to Williams, Trump, Robertson, Junhui, and Hendry – make an appearance. As mentioned, however, not just any shot will do. Therefore, I’ve compiled a list of 10 of some of the greatest shots to have ever taken place in professional play. This list isn’t exhaustive, as there are literally hundreds of crackers that have gone down in history – this is just 10 of what I feel to be the most impressive pots, escapes, snookers, and “category: other” in recent years.
Ronnie O’Sullivan – 147 Angle Wangle
Sure, it’s a little cliché to have O’Sullivan sitting at the top, but all praise that befalls the man is justified every time he steps up to a snooker table in anywhere near his best form.
This shot is one of the most famous in snooker history and takes place during what went on to be a successful 147 attempt. Some excellent shots had been played up to this point (12 reds, 13 blacks potted), but you can almost feel the tension building as viewers and O’Sullivan himself knew that to make the maximum he’d need to free the pink, which is stuck near its spot onto a red.
With virtually no angle to work with, he hammers in the black, using the bottom cushion to bounce the white off, and the spin he applied correcting the white’s angle of reflection to run up, tickle the pink, freeing the red and leaving him perfect on the next red. Truly one of the greatest shots of all time.
Jimmy White – En Massé
A snooker top-shot list without Jimmy White wouldn’t be one worth reading, as this incredible massé shot from “The Whirlwind” here demonstrates.
Stuck behind the blue from O’Sullivan’s skilful stun shot just moments before, White mounts the table and has the butt of the cue almost all the way up in the air. With his cue almost vertical, he hits down on the white.
This is one of the most satisfying escapes, as not only are massé shots like this a relatively rare event in snooker, it also demonstrates nicely the effect of delayed spin on the cue ball. Here, White has taken full advantage of the laws of physics, applying spin to the cue ball, and with the help of the chalk, grips the cloth and changes direction dramatically.
Make sure your tip is well-chalked if you want to try this one at your local club, or you can expect a Begbie cloth-tear in no time.
Sean Murphy – Side Winder
This fabulous shot took place in the fifth frame of the worlds in 2017. Murphy is 3-1 down against O’Sullivan, and desperately needing to get another frame on the board to close the gap against arguably the best front-runner in the game.
He’s snookered behind the yellow on most balls, which forces him into playing on the red sitting just past the left middle pocket. The direct approach won’t do, however, so Murphy uses his excellent knowledge of side and angles to come off the left cushion first with lots of right-hand side, causing the white to bounce back towards the left cushion and nudge the red into the middle pocket. A risky, but sensational example of snooker skill
Mark Williams – Red-on-Red Action
Though I was present at the semi-final of the 2018 World Championships, I unfortunately missed out on what turned out to be one of the most thrilling finals of recent years, with the old guard (Williams and Higgins) battling it out for the ultimate reward.
Williams is known for his potting brilliance, but this shot demonstrated a touch rarely seen even in the modern game. He knocks a red almost the entire length of the table, making it take an upside-down V path to the baulk end and back down to the middle, potting the red sitting next to the right-middle cushion.
This is one of the most astounding plants you will ever see on a snooker table.
Ronnie O’Sullivan – Plant and Dec
Ronnie is 1-1 with Joe Perry in this 11-frame match, with the 3rd frame basically finished in Ronnie’s favour. From the position he is in, it is difficult to see where his next red and indeed chances of another century are going to come from, given that the four reds are stuck close together in two pairs.
You can see Ronnie lining something up however, as he spots something with the leftmost pair of reds. With viewers only half realising what’s about to happen, Ronnie digs into the cue ball, plays onto the left reds, somehow lining up and potting a one-in-a-hundred plant into the corner, and gaining perfect position on the black. Ridiculous.
Stephen Maguire – Jaw Having a Laugh
I’ve never been particularly impressed by the sum of Maguire’s parts. He’s a good potter, good safety player, and is good at bullying opponents with his intimidating walks around the table.
I’m also not one to let personal feeling get in the way of recognising good snooker, though, which is why this shot has made the list. Using the jaws of a pocket to facilitate a shot is nothing new but using the jaws as creatively as Maguire does here requires some credit.
Maguire needs to hit the green yet is stuck behind the pink at the bottom of the table. In a genius move, he uses some right-hand side to come off the right cushion, slip under the pink, wobble in the jaw of the left-bottom pocket, and come up to hit the green. Pure class, this one.
Alex Higgins – Get Around
The Hurricane was no stranger to outrageous pots and creativity around the table. In my opinion, he’s not featured heavily enough in most snooker shots compilations. This is partly why I’ve included him here. Mainly though, it’s because this is just one example of the level of genius that Higgins could produce at the table.
Instead of taking the easy pot in the left-middle pocket, he sends the brown around the angles here, eventually landing it in the top right pocket. It’s an exhibition-style shot that’s got a very small chance of being made successfully, but Higgins, in his signature style, pots it, much to the delight of the crowd.
John Higgins – Black Bauer
John Higgins is arguably the greatest match player to ever grace the table, yet we don’t see a massive number of his shots in top-shots compilations. I’ve seen first-hand how good he is at match play, but he’s also a great pressure-potter, and more relevantly here, he’s one of the best tacticians of the game too.
With a 3-2 lead against Marco Fu, yet 46-60 down in what could have been the deciding frame of the match, Higgins needs a snooker to win the match here. He sends the pink sailing, with his flawless cue ball control allowing him to position it behind the black. This snooker doesn’t win him the match, but the level of precision here is indicative of Higgins’ skill overall: simply magnificent.
Stephen Hendry – 147 Pinkredible
There’s nothing quite like the buzz of watching a 147 unfolding, but when it’s a 147 coming from one of the greatest players to ever pick up a cue, it feels like it’s on another level of special.
Here, Hendry only needs the pink and the black to get the maximum, but he lands a little betwixt and between on the pink. This means he has to pot the pink and judge the pace perfectly to go in and out of baulk for the black.
Yes, there have been better pots in snooker history, but this is a great pot at a tense moment, with supreme positioning on the black, and all under exponentially more pressure than a standard shot due to the 147 being on.
Ronnie O’Sullivan – A Bit of English
O’Sullivan’s performance at the 2017 English Open saw him produce some of the finest snooker of his career. He steamrolled most of his opponents and played some incredible highlight-reel shots.
This particular shot deserved shot of the tournament in my opinion. The frame was far from over, and O’Sullivan was on the blue yet needed the red stuck on the side cushion in order to win the frame. He had a good angle on the blue, but the natural path would leave him without a good shot on the red that he required, so he plays the shot with a lot of check side, bringing the red into play.
This shot is astounding and demonstrates O’Sullivan’s incredible judgement and cue ball control. It’s as if he had sat-nav on the cue ball with this one, making it thoroughly deserving of its place here.
Thanks for reading guys!