And so we come to those players still on the circuit, who are at something of a disadvantage as it is harder to put their careers into perspective.
MARCO FU (Hong Kong)
Years as professional: 1997-
Ranking titles: 1
Ranking finals: 3
Other titles: 1
Highest ranking: 8
Years in top 16: 4
Crucible appearances: 8
At his best, Fu is a formidable competitor with a fine temperament and the game to beat anyone.
This is evidenced by his excellent record against both Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins.
What has let him down over the years is a lack of consistency, partly due to his desire to change his technique early in his professional career and work on it ever since.
Fu won the 1997 world amateur title and joined the circuit full time in 1998, when he reached the final of that season’s first event, the Grand Prix at Preston, beating O’Sulivan and Peter Ebdon en route.
He was beaten 9-2 by a superlative Stephen Lee performance but served notice that he could become Asia’s first Crucible champion.
Fu made it into the top 16 after only two seasons but immediately dropped out again as he struggled to maintain his early potential.
There were highlights. He made a 147 – the first to be screened on the internet – at the 2000 Scottish Masters, beat O’Sullivan in the first round of the 2003 World Championship and won the 2003 Premier League.
However, it wasn’t until 2007 that he captured his first ranking title. Fu defeated O’Sullivan again to land the Grand Prix, his focused, metronomic playing style contrasting with the Rocket’s instinctive, volatile approach.
The previous year, Fu recovered from 15-9 down to take Ebdon to a deciding frame in their Crucible semi-final.
Last season, he took Shaun Murphy the full distance in the UK Championship final.