Ronnie O'Sullivan and Stephen Hendry
Ronnie O'Sullivan and Stephen Hendry

Snooker world number ones in history including Ronnie O'Sullivan, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins, Mark Selby and Ray Reardon


Ronnie O'Sullivan is back on top of snooker's world rankings for the fifth time in his career - but who has held this position the longest?

The Rocket has moved above Mark Selby after reaching the Tour Championship semi-finals in Llandudno and therefore heads to the Crucible as world number one, almost 20 years after he first got there in May 2002.

Despite 31 of his record 38 ranking titles coming since the turn of the century, which includes all six of his World Championship crowns and five of his seven UK Championships, O'Sullivan hasn't spent the most weeks at snooker's summit. In fact his cumulative total of 280 weeks puts him fifth on the list behind Stephen Hendry (471), Steve Davis (365), Ray Reardon (362) and Mark Selby (350).

Just 11 different players have ever managed to become world number one since the ranking system began way back in May 1975, when Reardon took sole charge until April 1981.

That mammoth 312-week spell was surpassed by Steve Davis holding it for 365 between 1983 and 1990 but the next player to reach the top - Stephen Hendry - 'swiftly' broke that record at his first attempt when staying there for 418 consecutive weeks.

No player has got remotely close to matching such a duration, with Mark Selby's 215-week run from February 2015 to March 2019 falling 'just' 203 weeks short!

The other greats to earn world number one status are John Higgins, Mark Williams, Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, Cliff Thorburn and Ding Junhui but it's hard to see anyone reaching Hendry's records for many years to come.

Here below are stats on the players who have been number one the longest together with a timeline of how top spot has changed hands down the years.

Most total weeks as snooker world number one

  • May 1975 to April 4, 2022
Most total weeks spent as world number one from May 1975 to April 2022
Most total weeks spent as world number one from May 1975 to April 2022

Top five longest reigns as world number one

  • May 1975 to April 4, 2022
  • World titles in below graph include if player won it to become world number one
Most consecutive weeks spent as world number one
Most consecutive weeks spent as world number one

World number one timeline

  • Ray Reardon: 3 May 1975 to 20 April 1981 (312 weeks)
  • Cliff Thorburn: 21 April 1981 to 16 May 1982 (56 weeks)
  • Ray Reardon: 17 May 1982 to 2 May 1983 (50 weeks)
  • Steve Davis: 3 May 1983 to 29 April 19903 (65 weeks)
  • Stephen Hendry: 30 April 1990 to 4 May 1998 (418 weeks)
  • John Higgins: 5 May 1998 to 1 May 2000 (104 weeks)
  • Mark Williams: 2 May 2000 to 6 May 2002 (105 weeks)
  • Ronnie O’Sullivan: 7 May 2002 to 5 May 2003 (52 weeks)
  • Mark Williams: 6 May 2003 to 3 May 2004 (52 weeks)
  • Ronnie O’Sullivan: 4 May 2004 to 1 May 2006 (104 weeks)
  • Stephen Hendry: 2 May 2006 to 7 May 2007 (53 weeks)
  • John Higgins: 8 May 2007 to 5 May 2008 (52 weeks)
  • Ronnie O’Sullivan: 6 May 2008 to 3 May 2010 (104 weeks)
  • John Higgins: 4 May 2010 to 26 September 2010 (21 weeks)
  • Neil Robertson: 27 September 2010 to 12 December 2010 (11 weeks)
  • John Higgins: 13 December 2010 to 2 May 2011 (20 weeks)
  • Mark Williams: 3 May 2011 to 11 September 2011 (19 weeks)
  • Mark Selby: 12 September 2011 to 4 November 2012 (60 weeks)
  • Judd Trump: 5 November 2012 to 9 December 2012 (5 weeks)
  • Mark Selby: 10 December 2012 to 17 February 2013 (10 weeks)
  • Judd Trump: 18 February 2013 to 31 March 2013 (6 weeks)
  • Mark Selbyv1 April 2013 to 9 June 2013 (10 weeks)
  • Neil Robertson: 10 June 2013 to 5 May 2014 (47 weeks)
  • Mark Selby: 6 May 2014 to 6 July 2014 (9 weeks)
  • Neil Robertson: 7 July 2014 to 10 August 2014 (5 weeks)
  • Mark Selby: 11 August 2014 to 7 December 2014 (17 weeks)
  • Ding Junhui: 8 December 2014 to 14 December 2014 (1 weeks)
  • Neil Robertson: 15 December 2014 to 25 January 2015 (6 weeks)
  • Ding Junhui: 26 January 2015 to 8 February 2015 (2 weeks)
  • Mark Selby: 9 February 2015 to 24 March 2019 (215 weeks)
  • Ronnie O’Sullivan: 25 March 2019 to 11 August 2019 (20 weeks)
  • Judd Trump: 12 August 2019 to 22 August 2021 (106 weeks)
  • Mark Selby: 23 August 2021 to 17 October 2021 (8 weeks)
  • Judd Trump: 18 October 2021 to 7 November 2021 (3 weeks)
  • Mark Selby: 8 November to April 3 2022 (21 weeks)
  • Ronnie O'Sullivan: 4 April 2022 onwards

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