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The Greatest Cue Sports Players in the World

Oct 19, 2022 Daniel Hult

Cue sports have been played for hundreds of years, and so picking the greatest players to ever pick up some chalk isn’t the easiest of tasks. It’s even harder when you factor in the vast amounts of variants that exist. So, we’ve narrowed it down to three of the most popular variants, with the player we regard as the best in each.

When looking at the best players, it is always worth taking a look at the new bookmakers' odds. The lower the odds, the higher the player’s chances of winning are estimated to be. However, the odds offered vary from provider to provider. Accordingly, a comparison of the bookmakers makes a lot of sense.

We’ll start with snooker and the man who many regard as the greatest-ever, ‘the Rocket’ Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Ronnie O’Sullivan (snooker)

Born: December 5, 1975, in the West Midlands, United Kingdom

World titles: 5

Signature win: Fastest-ever maximum break against Mick Price at the World Championships in 1997

Ronnie O’Sullivan isn’t just one very fine snooker player; he also ranks among the most celebrated and talented stars in all the cue sport branches. While breaking one record after another as a professional, his talent was on display from an early age after his father had a snooker table installed in their home. O’Sullivan made his first century break at just 10 years of age and became the youngest-ever player to record a maximum break in an official tournament.

O’Sullivan won his first 38 matches after turning professional in 1992. He impressed even further when he won the UK Snooker Championship in 1993 before following up with his first Master’s title just two years later. Earning the nickname “the Rocket” for the way he quickly saw off his opponents, he stunned the audience at the World Championship in 1997 by clearing the table in under five and a half minutes, setting a record for the fastest-ever recorded maximum.

By 2009, O’Sullivan won his third World Championship, fourth UK victory, and fifth Masters title. A loss in form seemed to have him on the ropes, but he came back to win consecutive world titles in 2012 and 2013. He won another Master’s the following year when he set a world record on his way to winning the Welsh Open.

 

O’Sullivan had another very fine year in 2016 when he again won the Welsh Open and was a finalist in both the UK Championship and European Masters.

O’Sullivan’s family life has seen its fair share of ups and downs. His father was jailed for 18 years after beating somebody to death in a bar, and his mother Maria also served 12 months in prison for tax evasion. Ronnie is currently engaged to former Footballers Wives and Holby City actress Laila Rouass. 

Efren Reyes (American pool)

Born: August 26, 1954, in Angeles, Philippines

World titles: Too many to mention

Signature win: Defeating Earl Strickland in the final of the first Color of Money event in 1997

Efren “Bata” Reyes is a Filipino pool player with more than 70 international titles to his name. He’s also the first man to win World Championships in multiple disciplines. Besides twice winning the World Pool League championship and World Cup championship, he's also a 14-time champion of the Derby City Classic. After his 1996 defeat of Earl Strickland in the first-ever Coloraturas of Money event, Reyes walked away with the largest single-event purse in the history of the game. Many current and ex-players, fans, and analysts believe Reyes to be the best pool player of all time.

Reyes was working as a billiards attendant in a billiards hall run by his uncle when he first took a shine to cue sports. While he began practicing the game of pool, he wasn’t tall enough for the table, so he was forced to stand on Coca-Cola cases. That didn't deter him from pursuing a career at the table, however. After winning small gambling tournaments in the ‘70s, promoters considered entering him into bigger competitions.

Reyes earned his big break in 1983 after defeating Pepito Dancer in the Philippine Professional Pocket Billiards Championships. Shortly after, he began hustling in the U.S. in a bid to achieve global recognition. After winning several big tournaments in his homeland, in the U.S., and in Europe, he achieved the recognition he sought. In 1994, he beat Nick Varner to become the first non-American winner of the US Open Nine Ball Championship.

While playing Mika Immonen in the semi-finals of the 2000 Billiard Congress of America Open 9-Ball Championship, ESPN's coverage was particularly flattering of Reyes when veteran Billy Incardona called him the world’s best player. And as Incardona said himself, this was from a man who’d been watching pool for almost four decades.

 

Reyes appeared in a Filipino movie called Pakners, which also featured the late Fernando Poe, Jr. Pakners was also Poe Jr’s last movie before his 2004 presidential run. Reyes has also been portrayed on screen. In one episode of the TV show Magpakailanman, the plot revolves around a youthful Efren Reyes (played by Anjo Yllana) in his early days as a pool player as he begins as a money player competing in tournaments.

Torbjörn Blomdahl (carom)

Born:  October 26, 1962, in Gothenburg, Sweden

World titles: 6

Signature win: Defeating Dick Jaspers to win the AGIPI Masters

The carom billiards player from Sweden might also play pool, but it’s definitely carom in which he excels. He has won the three-cushion billiards World Championship an impressive six times with the first championship dating back to 1987 and the latest in 2019.

Born in Gothenburg, Sweden, Blomdahl and his family moved to Helsingborg when he was just 11 years old. His father Lennart was also a carom player and was a central figure at local billiards club Borgen på Söder. The younger Blomdahl learned how to play the game under his father. In 1984, he made his entrance onto the world stage when he played in the European championships in Copenhagen. Just five years later, he ranked the world’s best carrom player for the first time.

Blomdahl has won 16 world titles in carrom, with 10 titles from BWA and six titles from UMB, and with six successful defenses. Only Raymond Ceulemans has won more, with a total of 24. Blomdahl has also won eight CEB European carom titles, with four successful defenses, and has chalked up 18 Swedish titles. He once made an impressive 50 points in just nine innings.

Blomdahl also won the Carom Café International Tournament in 2004 when he went up against Ramon Rodriguez. Four years later, he defeated Semih Saygıner from Turkey to win the inaugural Sang Lee International Open. He later saw off Dick Jaspers in 2008 when he won the lucrative AGIPI Masters competition.

Never shy in showing off his talents with a cue in hand, Blomdahl has also demonstrated exceptional skills at pocket billiards. He’s even achieved victories over Efren Reyes and Korean Young Hwa-jeong in carrom, eight ball and nine ball.

Blomdahl has been living in Backnang, Germany since 1994. It was there where he married Beate, with whom he had his first child Yannick just two years later. Yannick was born during the opening ceremony of the German Open, but Blomdahl was allowed to play in the tournament despite his initial absence.

 

 

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