2022 has been another memorable year on the baize, from Neil Robertson claiming the Masters title back in January to Mark Selby lifting the English Open trophy in December.
Proper snooker anoraks will point out that there has been Championship League action since Selby’s triumph in Brentwood, and that illustrates just how much battling on the baize there has been over the last year.
The following rundown of the 22 players of 2022 tries to take every drop of snooker into account, but will undoubtedly be fiercely up for debate.
Top players have missed out entirely, while the positions of some players on the list will inevitably rile up their fans, but here we go…the 22 Snooker Players of 2022.
22. Ding Junhui
The year started pretty atrociously for Ding Junhui as he recovered from his time away from the tour back in China, but things got a lot better.
A Turkish Masters semi-final, then qualifying for the Crucible were good signs, but what has seen him creep onto this list was his run to the UK Championship final in November.
21. Si Jiahui
It has not been a spectacular return to the pro ranks for Si Jiahui, in fact a European Masters quarter-final has been the only real highlight, but his amateur life was very impressive.
The 20-year-old was the standout amateur of last season, winning the jewel in the non-professional crown, the WSF Open in February to bank a prestigious title and a place on the pro tour.
20. Liam Davies
Another non-professional, but one who made history in 2022 as he continued to show why he is one of the brightest young talents in the game.
At just 15 years old Davies became the youngest player to win a match in the World Championship when he downed Aaron Hill in qualifying. He then followed that up by beating Fergal O’Brien in the next round, before losing to Jordan Brown.
The Welsh teenager then won the IBSF Under-16, Under-18 and Under-21 titles in August, becoming the first player to ever complete that hat-trick.
19. Jack Lisowski
In a way it has been another frustrating year for Jack Lisowski as he continues to hunt down his first big title, but there were great moments. Most notable was his amazing 13-12 win over Neil Robertson to reach the World Championship quarter-final for the first time, where he only lost to John Higgins in a decider.
There were semi-final runs at the Welsh Open and UK Championship, sparking on his run through the latter, where he also lost out in a decider.
18. Barry Hawkins
Barry Hawkins has had a very Barry Hawkins 2022. Largely under the radar but has won a lot of matches, without getting his hands on a trophy.
The Hawk has been to the finals of the Masters, Players Championship and European Masters in 2022, but frustratingly for him, didn’t really compete in any of those showpiece matches.
17. Hossein Vafaei
The Iranian made history this year by becoming the first player from his country to win a ranking title and then the first to play at the Crucible.
The Shoot Out may not be the tournament of choice for a first ranking title, but it was a memorable win from Hossein Vafaei, who was dealing with the recent death of his grandmother and played brilliantly in the unique event.
He also narrowly missed out on the Welsh Open final and showed everyone on tour how to grab headlines ahead of the World Championship by telling Ronnie O’Sullivan to hang up his cue!
16. Gary Wilson
A quiet year for Gary Wilson ended in style when he won his first ranking event at the Scottish Open, downing Joe O’Connor in the final in Edinburgh.
Fine wins over O’Sullivan, his namesake Kyren, Vafaei and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh made it a brilliant victory and got that ranking title monkey off his back in his third final.
15. Ryan Day
Another player who had a quiet year punctuated by a superb win was Ryan Day, who probably would have forgotten most of his 2022 himself, but certainly will remember the British Open.
The Welshman won his fourth ranking title by brilliantly beating Mark Allen in the final, shooting back into the world’s top 16 at 42 years old as a result.
14. Robert Milkins
The Milkman finally delivered in 2022! Another player who won his first ranking event this year, but Robert Milkins was far more surprising than Vafaei’s or Wilson’s.
It looked like his time for titles had passed without picking up a trophy, but he did so at the Gibraltar Open. Remarkably, just a matter of days after hitting headlines for drinking himself into a scene-causing state at the Turkish Masters. Not the biggest win of 2022, but arguably the greatest story as Milkins bounced back from despair to glory.
13. Joe Perry
Joe Perry has been an extremely good player for 30 years, but it looked like he was worryingly on the slide at 47 years old and struggling for results.
Pretty much out of nowhere he won the Welsh Open in February, beating Cao Yupeng, Mark Allen, Kyren Wilson, Ricky Walden and Jack Lisowski on a very tricky run to the final. Waiting for him there was Judd Trump but the Gentleman just kept on rolling, comfortably ousting the Ace 9-5.
12. Zhao Xintong
It seems a long time ago, but early in 2022 Zhao Xintong was one of the most feared players on the planet. After winning the UK Championship in late 2021, he followed it up with a cracking win at the German Masters.
The Cyclone blew away Mark Williams, Tom Ford, Judd Trump and Ricky Walden before whitewashing Yan Bingtao 9-0 in the final.
He has almost completely failed to kick on from there, although 2022 will also go down as the year he made his Masters debut and won his first match at the Crucible, a 10-2 drubbing of Jamie Clarke.
11. Fan Zhengyi
We have had unlikely first time winners already on this list, but Fan Zhengyi is the unlikeliest of the lot after he won the first European Masters title of the season by beating Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final.
Pretty much the only glimpse of anything he had shown before that was a German Masters quarter-final in January, but then he burst through the field in February, beating the likes of Kyren Wilson, Yan Bingtao, Dave Gilbert and Graeme Dott to set up the clash with the Rocket.
His first final against the greatest of all time and it didn’t bother the youngster who left with a 10-9 win and a scarcely believable title. He showed a flash of brilliance again at the Champion of Champions, but otherwise has returned to the pack from whence he came.
10. Kyren Wilson
A seemingly unspectacular year for Kyren Wilson, but he has picked up a fifth ranking title at the most recent European Masters and been to another final in Gibraltar.
While other winners this year had the surprise factor, Wilson’s quality means his latest triumph went more under the radar and his more consistent performances see him climb this list. He is still number eight in the world and number three on this season’s one-year list.
9. John Higgins
John Higgins won just one title in 2022 and it was the pretty underwhelming Invitational Championship League. However, he provided plenty more storylines than just that minor triumph in Leicester.
His Tour Championship final defeat to Neil Robertson was one of the most memorable matches of 2022, while his defeat to Mark Williams at the Masters and Marco Fu in Hong Kong would also be in that category.
It takes two to tango and Higgins helped create those classics even in defeat. He also reached the Crucible semi-finals, only being beaten by the Rocket.
8. Luca Brecel
Luca Brecel burst onto the scene as a teenager but is slowly maturing into a regular and potent force at the top of the sport.
The Belgian Bullet has added a third ranking title to his collection at the Championship League, made the English Open final and the Tour Championship semi-final in 2022.
7. Mark Selby
A remarkable year for Mark Selby started with bravely announcing to the world that he has been struggling with mental health problems and ended with him winning the English Open.
In between, Selby took a break from the game to focus on his own wellbeing and it appears to have worked after his impressive win in Brentwood.
It was far from the biggest title of his epic career, but the Jester classed it as his greatest achievement and for his incredible journey from January to December, Selby deserves a lot of praise.
6. Mink Nutcharut
With just one match win in ranking events on the World Snooker Tour this year, Mink Nutcharut may seem very high on this list, but few can match her haul of trophies in 2022.
On the women’s tour this year Mink won the World Championship, British Open and Masters, beating Wendy Jans, Reanne Evans and Ng On-yee respectively in those finals.
She also took her chance to shine alongside the top male players on the planet, winning the World Mixed Doubles alongside Neil Robertson.
5. Mark Williams
Mark Williams has not won a title in 2022, in fact his only run to a final was at the Shoot Out, but his relentless production of memorable moments seems him up into the top six on this particular list.
WST produced their Top 10 Matches of 2022 and Williams played in no fewer than five of them, including the top two. Much like with Higgins, he didn’t win them all, but he helped make them brilliant games, with a 147 at the English Open, stirring comeback in a Crucible semi and unforgettable Masters matches with Higgins and Robertson.
4. Judd Trump
Judd Trump, by his standards, had a pretty shoddy 2022 but it was still much better than the year most players had.
The Ace made three ranking finals, only winning one at the Turkish Masters, but he did take 13 frames off Ronnie O’Sullivan in the showpiece at the Crucible as well.
He has also been to the Champion of Champions final this year, a Masters semi and a string of quarter-finals, showing that even when not at his best, he is consistently better than the vast majority on tour.
3. Mark Allen
The places of all the players so far could be argued and there is no right or wrong, but the top three players of 2022 are pretty clear.
Mark Allen is the player of the 2022/23 season so far, but the first half of the year keeps him behind his closest rivals at the top of this list.
The Pistol has been immense this season, winning the UK Championship and Northern Ireland Open, while reaching the British Open final and English Open semi-final.
He was not at that level before his transformative summer which saw him lose an amazing amount of weight and find his brilliant best form. Two titles in the calendar year is a tremendous return, but it leaves him behind two other players.
2. Neil Robertson
From January to the 2022 World Championship, Neil Robertson was pretty clearly the best player on the planet as he racked up the Masters, Players Championship and Tour Championship titles.
He fell short at the Crucible once again, but those are three serious tournaments he won before he got to Sheffield, and although he hasn’t continued to win titles yet this campaign, his four semi-finals already show just how consistently excellent he is.
The Thunder from Down Under also joined the exclusive club of Crucible maximum-makers, which was something of a pick-me-up after defeat to Jack Lisowski in Sheffield.
1. Ronnie O’Sullivan
Ronnie O’Sullivan has also won three titles in 2022, but there is no real question that the World Championship is worth considerably more than any other event and the Rocket is the current holder of the richest prize in the game.
Not only did he claim Crucible glory, but it was for an historic seventh time, equalling Stephen Hendry’s record and cementing his spot as the GOAT.
The world number one has followed that up by winning the Hong Kong Masters and Champion of Champions and previously became the first player ever to make five centuries in back-to-back matches at the Tour Championship.
He is the world champion, the world number one and still the biggest star in the sport. 2022 was Ronnie O’Sullivan’s year.
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