Who Will be Snooker’s Next Big Hitters?

The list of favorites in the betting, before a ball had even been potted in the 2022 World Snooker Championship, read like a hall of fame roll call. Neil Robertson, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Mark Selby, John Higgins, and Mark Williams can boast 19 world titles between them and are still the dominant forces in the game. But which up-and-coming players are most likely to break into that elite club?

The Warrior on the attack

The obvious choice to be the next big hitter is Kyren Wilson. The Englishman known as “The Warrior” is still only 30 years of age and has already played in a world final (2020 when he lost 8-18 to Ronnie O’Sullivan). He has ranked as high as No. 4 in the world and has four ranking titles to his name.

In addition, Wilson has reached at least the quarter-final stage in each of the last six World Championships, making three semi-finals and one final. A regular favorite in the betting odds, Snooker World Championship glory cannot be too far away for Wilson. He’s currently priced at odds of 14/1 to win the 2022 title.


Beyond Wilson, the next generation of snooker greats will surely feature some Chinese players. Following in the trail blazed by Ding Junhui, the sport has exploded in his home country and is now producing some extraordinary talent.

Zhao Xintong is the latest player to burst onto the scene. The 25-year-old turned professional in 2016 and has progressed rapidly since. This season, he won the UK Championship and the German Masters to fire himself into the world’s top 10. Could he go on to become China’s first snooker world champion?

Also hailing from China is world No. 15, Yan Bingtao. In 2014, he won the Amateur World Snooker Championship and three years later, he reached a ranking final at the 2017 Northern Ireland Open. The 22-year-old reached his first ranking final at the 2020 Players’ Championship. His strong trajectory led to a ranking win in the 2021 Masters, where he defeated John Higgins 10-8 to land the £250,000 first prize.

The Prince of Persia

Another player who is on the verge of hitting the big time is Hossein Vafaei. He is the first Iranian to win a ranking event (the 2022 Shoot-Out) and the first to feature in a World Championship (2022). He has also reached the semi-finals of the Welsh Open twice and the semi-finals of the China Open and the China Championship.

Vafaei’s career was hampered by visa issues, but he has overcome that adversity to rise in the rankings. He is currently positioned at No. 18 in the world and at the age of 27, is still relatively young in snooker terms. It would be no surprise to see him feature in the top 10 soon.

Some players, most notably Ronnie O’Sullivan have bemoaned the lack of up-and-coming talent in the game. However, with the sport growing globally, there should be no shortage of players coming through in the next couple of years. China is one country to keep an eye on, while Vafaei’s success could inspire more players from the Middle East to pick up a cue.

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