Here’s a question for a grey, miserable Thursday: who is the best player never to have been ranked inside the top 16?

For me, it’s a straight fight between Dominic Dale and Andy Hicks.

Dale, whose highest ever ranking is 19th, has to be ahead on points as he has won two ranking titles, the 1997 Grand Prix and 2007 Shanghai Masters.

His problem, quite obviously, has been consistency. It’s actually quite hard, considering the huge number of points gained, not to make a rapid rise up the rankings if you win a tournament, which is exactly as it should be.

After Dominic’s first win he went up from 54th to 23rd. His Shanghai success, though, did not bring an improvement. In fact he went down a place from 31st to 32nd.

The ‘Spaceman’ only won three ranking event matches after winning the title and two of those were in the round robin phase of the Grand Prix.

What of Hicks? Within the space of a year in 1995/96 he appeared in the semi-finals of the World Championship, the UK Championship and the Wembley Masters (although the latter doesn’t carry ranking points).

That year he got up to 17th in the world rankings but never made it into the elite group.

I’d say Andy is every bit as good, if not better, than some of the players who have been top 16 members but, like Dale, consistency has let him down and he has lost a lot of close matches during his career.

The brutal truth is that there are many more than 16 players good enough to be in the top 16.

Getting there takes some doing and even players capable of great performances are not guaranteed a place.


Matthew said...

Was thinking the other day when doing some profiles how strange it was that Hicks reached all those semis (plus some others in the Grand Prix etc) and never made the top 16 whole David Roe made four quarter-finals during his career and stayed in the top 16 for three seasons. Funny how things work out.

Matt@PSB said...

Also, the only other contender I can really think of is Drew Henry who made a few semis and had a couple of decent runs at the Crucible. Dene O'Kane might be pushing it.

james bielby said...

Worst player to have been in the top 16?
Many contenders: Tony Jones is one who springs immediately to mind. But then a lot of dross made it in the 80s/early 90s.
Maybe should be open era.

Anonymous said...

Jim Wych, Eugene Hughes and Bob Chaperon could be added into the mix. Jim did not play a lot in the early eighties and if he had he would probably of made it. Bob won a ranking title and Eugene was key in winning the world cup for Ireland three times running. It is a pity that we do not know how high in the rankings Robin Hull would of achieved if health problems had not hit when he was in such exceptional form, which later caused his premature retirement. On balance I would have to give the title of best player not to have made the top 16 to Dominic- as has been pointed out there are a number who did without reaching a ranking final and two ranking titles is a fine performance from an excellent player- dont write off number 3 in Dubai next week!
John H

Sammy said...

Michael Holt?

Anonymous said...

At the moment I could add the names of Jamie Cope and Judd Trump but I expect they will make top 16 very soon- who knows maybe Michael Holt will make it now he seems to be a bit more settled?

Anonymous said...

I remember Tony Jones being a very fine player. Many of the players in the top 16 back in the early to mid 80s would struggle to score as heavily as players today but they had more table craft and if you put todays players on the 80s tables they would pot even better but would not be able to develop the reds as well due to heavier cloths etc. Everyone who has ever been in the top 16 was an exceptional player. Steve Longworth and Steve Newbury were also very fine players who never made the top 16.

Dave H said...

Let's not forget Tony Jones won a ranking tournament

Anonymous said...


A very good blog, one that offers a number of permitations.

My selection would have to go to the man Tony Jones beat in Rotterdam to win the 1991 European Open, Mark Johnston-Allen.

Johnston-Allen reached the final of the same tournament the following year and lost to Jimmy White and a year later was a semi-finalist in the Thailand Open, losing only to James Wattana.

Amazingly, with reaching to world ranking finals he only achieved a career high ranking of 31 and the ulitmate stand out fact was that he played Stephen Hendry three times between 1991 and 1995 in world ranking events and won all three. How many, if any, other player can hold that distinction against the games greatest player?

To prove it was no fluke, Mark's CV also shows two victories over Ronnie O'Sullivan and Jimmy White and further victories over Steve James, John Parrott and Steve Davis.

I think the reason that Mark never featured in the world's elite is purely down to the same reason as Dominic Dale, the lack of consistency over the season.


Bryan said...

Robert Milkins is very talented, reached an Irish Masters semi. Maybe not the top of the list, but still a good player whose style seems to have prevented being a top player.
Ian Mcculloch was unluckly, although tecnically reaching top 16, he was of course not seeeded because of Shaun Murphy's win in the Worlds.
Billy snaddon was good reached a final in asia i think
Finally Michael judge was a player who i thought was better that is ranking and record suggests. a grand prix Semi was his best i think, although he did play a part in Ireland's run to the world team Final in 1998(i think) were he was a stand in for Doherty when he got food poisioning


Anonymous said...

Was Cliff Wilson ever in the top 16?

Andy said...

Cliff Wilson had one season in the top 16 (ranked 16, in fact): 1988-9.