28 October 2008
There is only one World Championship to come in this 00s decade and so it is safe to state that Ronnie O’Sullivan has been the outstanding player of this period.
A reader, Sam Hinton, has sent me some research he has done taking in ranking points earned over the last ten seasons.
They are based on around 70 ranking tournaments and help paint a picture as to which players have found success - although of course some did not come to the fore until later in the decade.
Here is the top ten from 1998-2008:
1) Ronnie O’Sullivan 215,901 (total points)
2) Mark Williams 203,409
3) John Higgins 198,173
4) Stephen Hendry 196,720
5) Ken Doherty 166,702
6) Peter Ebdon 163,732
7) Stephen Lee 153,318
8) Matthew Stevens 146,604
9) Graeme Dott 133,327
10) Alan McManus 120,938
Points earned in the 1998/99 season counted towards ranking positions at the start of the decade.
In terms of ranking titles won this decade (starting in 2000), the top ten reads as follows:
1) Ronnie O’Sullivan 15
2) Mark Williams 9
3) John Higgins 7
4) Peter Ebdon 5
5) Ken Doherty, Stephen Hendry, Stephen Maguire 4
8) Ding Junhui, Stephen Lee 3
10) Graeme Dott, Paul Hunter, Shaun Murphy, Neil Robertson 2
O’Sullivan has not dominated the decade in the way Steve Davis did the 1980s and Stephen Hendry the 1990s but has still been the leading player of what has been a very competitive era.
He has compiled more centuries and more maximums than any other player in the last ten years.
Mark Williams and John Higgins, who turned professional with him as teenagers in 1992, are second and third respectively.
In the case of Williams, it is a reminder of how good he has been. Some may have forgotten this after his struggles of the last couple of years.
Notice Hendry fourth in terms of ranking points won – more than creditable for a player now late into his 30s.
Of course, had we examined the period 1995-2005 we would have got different results, so I don't present this as anything other than a fun and interesting analysis.
In a year’s time we will be gearing up to welcome a new decade.
Who will be the dominant force?
Shaun Murphy, Stephen Maguire or Mark Selby?
Or what about O’Sullivan, who will end it as the age of 43?
We’ll only know with 2020 vision.