The final part of my look ahead to the new season is an assessment of the world’s top eight, in reverse order...

Fu seems to suffer from inconsistency but generally comes good against the top players. He is ahead against Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins, which is some boast, but only tends to play his best stuff in one or two tournaments a year.

He’s a better player than his one career ranking title suggests. Indeed, his metronomic style can often be deadly but there are times when he can look rather average – as when he lost 13-3 to Shaun Murphy at the Crucible last season.

He’s already second favourite for the world title next May and there are plenty of people who say he’s the second best player in the world. Well, actually, he’s the seventh best player in the world according to the world rankings and failed to follow up his excellent 2007/08 season in the campaign just gone.

Despite this, I rate Selby very highly. A number of the matches he lost last season were extremely close and he has the potential to be one of snooker’s top three or four players going into the next decade. I predict he will move back up the rankings this season.

Day is now the highest ranked player not to have won a ranking title. It becomes more of a psychological barrier with each final he loses but I think he can get there. He’s certainly got the ability and I think he can remain a top eight player for a number of years to come.

Also, one win could open the floodgates. In a sport where a number of established names are now on the back nines of their careers, Day is one of those who could take over their respective mantles.

Carter came of age in 2008 when he reached the world final and played superbly in the concluding session of the Welsh Open final to beat Joe Swail and land his first ranking title.

It was a fine performance and about time. Now that he’s won one, he could certainly win a number more titles, although his life will change when he becomes a father next month and he also has a new pressure to deal with this season: he starts it second in the provisional rankings.

Higgins was simply superb in winning a third world title last season and has reached that point in his career where he no longer has anything to prove. This makes him extremely dangerous.

I think he finds it hard to get himself up for some tournaments but when he’s on his game he’s as good as he ever was, and as good as anyone has ever been.

Murphy was Mr. Consistency in the 2007/08 season and then went right off the boil at the start of the last campaign before recovering to win the UK title and reach the final at the Crucible.

He had well documented off table problems and now those have receded I would expect him to return to become a regular again at the business end of tournaments.

Maguire’s best form tends to come in spurts lasting a couple of months. It didn’t really spurt forth last season but I’d expect it to resurface at some point.

He’s had his eyes lasered and has already been in two finals before hitting a ball in a ranking event. Maguire’s one desire is to win the world title. His problem may be putting too much pressure on himself to accomplish this feat.

If you look back through O’Sullivan’s career, he has tended to land roughly three titles a season. This hit rate will start to slow up at some point but I’d be surprised if he didn’t find success somewhere on the circuit this coming snooker year.

He is still, at times, spellbindingly brilliant while at other times, as they always have, the dark clouds descend. Predicting what he will do where is tricky, but if he doesn’t win the Premier League it will count as a major shock.


Anonymous said...

Selby's year coming up for me.
I assume he has worked hard during the summer and I think if he'd have beaten Higgins in a great match at Sheffield he'd be World Champion now.

Anonymous said...

A shorter version:

Fu - I think he'll drop down the rankings from here on.

Selby - Needs to win a ranking event early, mental barriers aren't good in this game and he doesn't want to become the next Maguire.

Day - will stay where he is by virtue of consistency, nothing more expected.

Carter - May have reached as far as he can go and the challenge will be to stay there, great player, but lets his mind wander a bit too often for me.

Higgins - Brilliant, deadly, the best player in the world at the moment without a doubt. Would not bet against him proving that further this season.

Murphy - Good season predicted. Solid performer with bottle aplenty, a winner.

Maguire - I think next season will see him occupy a more realistic ranking of 6 or 7, laser treatment can't alter attitude problems the last I read.

O'Sullivan - Unpredictable but I think he may want to regain his reputation as the undisputed No 1which he no longer is. He needs to concentrate on his long game though as he gets a bit older.

Predictions: Winning seasons for Higgins, Murphy and hopefully Selby. Ronnie to win PL and one ranking event. At least one ranking event to be won by a player outside of the elite, if I had to pick a name I'd take Jamie Cope or Grahame Dott.

Anonymous said...

stephen Maguire is a poor top player ...he just cant hack the pressure of being at the top.

his best snooker has always been when he isnt expected to do that well..

jamie brannon said...

My view:

Fu- I agree it is pretty staggering he has only one ranking title, considering his records against Ronnie and John. When on song he is a very capable scorer, combined with a superb tactical brain. I feel it will be more of the same from Marco next seaason. His inconsistency means for me he cant sustain the performance level needed for a whole tournament.

Carter- The birth of children has affected players in the past, notably Higgins, but I think Carter has still plenty to accomplish so I predict a title for him next season.

Selby- He produced a lot of his best stuff at the Masters and World's which shows he is a man for the big occasion. He will eventually take on Higgin's mantle as the best matchplayer on the planet. He is too good to endure another barren season, back in the top three at the end of it.

Day- I disagree to some extent that he has plenty of time, he is now 29 and many players have nailed a first title by then. I would give him another 2 or 3 years to break the duck but I fear he may have missed the boat. You don't like say but I feel he is a bit of a bottler, or to put in Clive Everton speak suffers from clinchers disease.

Murphy- I'm sure he would like to contend in every event, but last season was still a great one despite numerous early exits. Again a big occasion player not frightened by the winning line. Fancy him for one title as well.

Maguire- Never hit top form last season, and still did ok. This season I expect a different animal. I don't agree he is a bottler, but needs to find a better peace of mind out there or otherwise he may not fulfil his dream of becoming World Champion.

Higgins- Still the best all round player in the game. His best is less frequent now, but his B game won him the Grand Prix. I don't agree his best is as good as Hendry or Ronnie certainly not in the breakbuilding, however his legacy as a legend is now cemented.

O'Sullivan- In a way not knowing when he is going to find his unplayable top gear is part of the allure of supporting this genius. I think he will continue his strike rate of titles. I will go for Premier League, World and 1 other ranking title. He is not the machine that Hendry was, but remains the man to beat in every event.

Anonymous said...

I think a resurgence of Maguire's form is on the cards but the one to watch will be Murphy.

Anonymous said...

'I don't believe hsi best is as good as Hendry or Ronnie'

You obviously didn't watch the 2005 Grand Prix final, then, or are aware that Higgins has made more Crucible tons than O'Sullivan even though he has two fewer appearances there

Anonymous said...

To 6.23 (I'm not 3.17 by the way). I see your point but it's hard to argue with 3.17 on that one. Higgins isn't as good at his best as Ronnie or Hendry but he is second only to Hendry in terms of his temperament under pressure in my opinion. It isn't said that often but these days when Ronnie is put under the cosh he is finding it more and more difficult to perform, Higgins seems to be getting better at this with age. My opinion is that Ronnie will be remembered as a tortured genius who, despite the numerous titles should have won more. Higgins will be remembered as a true legend of the game, this was cemented by last May. Hendry, should be remembered as the greatest ever match player.

jamie brannon said...

Yes, but the overall count shows that Ronnie is more than hundred ahead, which is the more telling stat. Higgins was different class in that final. However Ronnie was even better dismantling him in the 2005 Masters final.

mathsisfun said...

I'm going to say Joe Swail will win his first ranking event this season. This seems far fetched, but I think his iconsistency is improving.

The other 5 ranking tournaments will be won by Ronnie, Higgins, Murphy and Selby. Then maybe someone ranked outside the top 8.

Anonymous said...


thank you for that might aswell go on holiday to the north poll in a igloo now because i know who wins the tournaments this season lol

Anonymous said...

Fu: Good player, but terribly inconsistent. Won't win any events this year but may hold on to top 8 spot.

Selby: Excellent player, and should another ranker this year. Top three spot likely and could be a major contender for the World Title.

Day: Could break his duck this season, far too good not to.

Carter: I'm not sure if he's quite as good as some people say he is, at least not on a consistent basis. Players like Williams, Higgins and particularly Stevens have struggle after becoming fathers. Don't think he'll win a tournament.

John Higgins: Probably the best player in the world at the moment, and has bounced back briliantly from his slump of a few years back. I feel he could win his first UK for 9 years and will be the man to beat at the Crucible due to his incredible bottle.

Shaun Murphy: Very good, very consistent, but I'm not convinced he'll win another world title. Might drop a couple of places.

Stephen Maguire: I've never forgotten how good he was when he won the UK, and in the tournaments leading up to that. Form is temporary, class is permanent, and laser eye surgery may give him more confidence. We could see a major backlash from the Scot this year.

Ronnie O'Sullivan: On his day, a different class. Simply brilliant no doubt about it, but may not have the desire to match the likes of Higgin (although has more than enought talent to)

Anonymous said...

higgins at his best isnt as good as hendry (unless youre just counting one session or so) IMHO, so no hes not as goos as anyone has ever been when he is at his best, again IMHO.

he is fantastic though. so glad hes ahead of o'sulkyman