Ding Junhui completed the latest 147 break in the first round of the Masters at Alexander Palace on 8th January 2024. He was playing the greatest of all time, Ronnie O’Sullivan, and the seven-time world champion has made plenty of 147s over the years. But which player has compiled the most 147 breaks in official tournaments? Although the man at the top of the charts might not come as a great surprise, some of the names further down the list will be rather less familiar to most.
Snooker Players with Three or More 147s
|No. of 147s
As you can see, there have been 23 players (so far) to have made at least three 147 breaks in official tournaments. And there’s no disputing the top dog among that group of exceptional players: Ronnie O’Sullivan. His amazing haul of 15 maximums represents almost 8% of all the official 147s ever made (at the time of writing). The Rocket also compiled the fastest-ever 147 when taking just over five minutes to clear the table in his World Championship first-round match against Mick Price in 1997.
There are a couple of other legends of snooker who aren’t a million miles behind Ronnie in the maximum break charts. Four-time world champion John Higgins has a very impressive 12 maximums to his name and he’s posted one more recently than O’Sullivan. At the time of writing, Higgins is still competing at tournaments and there’s a very slim chance he could catch Ronnie if he keeps his game honed.
A man who won’t catch the Rocket, though, is the man in third place on the list, seven-time world champ, Stephen Hendry. He has 11 maximums, but his last was way back in 2012. Though Hendry still enters some tournaments on occasion, his best days are well and truly behind him so it would be a big surprise if he were able to add to his current total of maximums, let alone catch The Rocket.
Who (If Anyone) Could Overhaul Ronnie?
As mentioned, John Higgins is the player with the best – and possibly only – chance of achieving more 147s than O’Sullivan. Ronnie hasn’t made a tournament maximum since 2018, but there’s no reason to think he doesn’t still have plenty in the locker so even if Higgins does post a couple more, chances are it would just spur Ronnie on to knock in a few for himself.
Of the rest, Judd Trump (currently on eight maximums) is arguably best placed to challenge Ronnie’s 147 dominance. Only 34 years old, which isn’t old in snooker terms these days (based on Ronnie still going strong at 48!), Trump has time on his side. Whether he has the desire and staying power to eventually challenge O’Sullivan in this particular area of the game remains to be seen. Indeed, it is more likely Judd would prefer to add to his single World Championship (2019) than chase what is effectively just a peripheral statistic.
Is 147 Really the Maximum? No!
Although a break of 147 is generally referred to as the ‘maximum’ break, in reality, this is not the case. This is because there’s a very specific scenario in which a player could achieve a break of more than 147, and though this has very rarely happened in an official tournament (in fact, just once, see below!), it has reportedly occurred plenty of times in unofficial tournaments and on the practice tables. But how is it possible to score more than 147 points in a break?
To achieve a break of more than 147, a player must rely on their opponent fouling before a ball has been potted. That’s not all though. The cue ball must then be left in position in which the incoming player cannot ‘see’ a single one of the 15 reds, i.e. they are ‘snookered’ on all the reds.
In this scenario, a free ball is granted and the player can then nominate any other colour (yellow, green, brown, blue, pink or black) as a red ball. If they pot that nominated red (which will score just one point irrespective of the colour) and then pot a colour, they will have scored at least three points (with a “red” followed by a yellow) and as many as eight points (“red” then black). If they then complete a break that includes all 15 reds with each followed by a black, then all the colours, they will have achieved a break of more than 147.
In this (unlikely) scenario, the true maximum break is 155, which has reportedly been achieved by Jamie Cope in 2005 and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in 2021 (both in practice matches/frames).
Snooker 147s – Stats and Facts
- Jamie Burnet: More Than a Maximum – Jamie Burnett posted a break of 148 in his UK Championship qualifying match against Leo Fernandez in 2004, becoming the first (and at the time of writing only) player to get a break of more than 147 in an official tournament.
- Sean Maddocks: Youngest – Ronnie might have compiled the most 147s, and the fastest, but the youngest player to compile a maximum was Sean Maddocks who posted his 147 at the LiteTask Pro-Am series in Leeds in 2017 when aged just 15 years and 90 days.
- Steve Davis: First Official Maximum – Although the Lada Classic in Oldham might not be as glamourous as the World Championship at the Crucible, that is where Steve Davis compiled what is considered to be the first official 147 in professional snooker, way back in 1982.
- Cliff Thorburn: First World Championship Maximum – Canada’s finest-ever snooker player, Cliff Thorburn, became the first player to post a maximum at the World Championship when he achieved the feat against Terry Griffiths in the second round of the 1983 event (three years after he’d won the tournament).