Eurosport looking at the 10 best snooker tacticians

In this lockdown time, everyone is looking at retrospectives and analysis pieces, and Eurosport has just started a weekly series.

This is the first of these themed articles

All-time top 10: Who are snooker’s greatest tacticians?

Some personal additional toughts…

I was at this Masters match between Mark Selby and Graeme Dott, and, if I’m honest, it was torture to me. It was torture to Dott as well, and to a large part of the audience, although part of them probably left just because they needed to catch the last of the public transport available to them. Alexandra Palace is a bit isolated, and London is big.

Dott was a lot more animated than you’d imagine reading the above. He was actualling fuming. He didn’t bluntly accuse his opponent of gamesmanship, but he certainly wondered aloud how anyone could possibly enjoy playing the game that way!

Mark doesn’t always play that way. Himself admits that he plays better when he plays faster and more open. And, it’s not always a deliberate “tactic” either. For all his succes Mark isn’t the most confident person, and when he retreats into his shell, his game tends to become more “conservative” …

I don’t expect that most of us would think about Mark Williams as a great safety player and yet, he is. Ronnie once branded Mark’s style as “nick and run”. He doesn’t mind messing up the table and waiting for an opportunity to grab a few points, mess a bit more, play safe  and wait again. My husband who plays table tennis competitively but is a “casual snooker fan” was watching Willo when he won the World Chamionship in 2018 and reflected “I never knew that Mark was such a great defender!”

Neil Robertson is right … when he made his breakthrough some 10/12 years ago, he was a scary potter, but not much more than that. His game was very one-dimensional, and his shot selection was frankly baffling, and frutrating at times. True, I didn’t think back then that he would become the player he is now. Even when he won the World Championship in 2010 he was nowhere near the complete player he is now.

What I will write hereafter is NOT a dig at Neil in any way. He was a deserving World Champion and I was genuinely happy for him BUT I always wondered what could/would have happened if the NOTW scandal had not obscured that final. Graeme Dott was managed by Pat Mooney. He knew nothing until he came to his press confrence, after his semi-final win over Mark Selby. I was at that press conference and it was clear that Graeme had no idea about what had happened and it clearly was a huge shock to him. He immediately distanced himself from Mooney.  It was already quite late, he still had to do filming with the BBC and he was in an emotional state of shock. I doubt that he slept well that night, if at all. It certainly wasn’t the best preparation for a World Final. That, of course, was none of Neil’s business, he did what he had to do, and Graeme battled valliantly as he would. But …




4 thoughts on “Eurosport looking at the 10 best snooker tacticians

  1. I don’t think Graeme Dott was ever going to win that final – he was exhausted battling through earlier matches. If Robertson was lucky, it was in the Gould match. I agree that Robertson is frequently overrated – he misses more than people think. But he is definitely a worthy World Champion, and one of the best players of the era.

    • My point was not about Neil being overrated, and yes, Dott was exhausted, but what happened that evening made it even worse for him. I think that Neil is a better player now than he was then, yet he’s never been in a World final again. Robertson wasn’t actually “lucky” against Gould, unless you count as luck the fact that Gould’s game disintegrated in the last session.

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