• The World Snooker Championship was first played in 1927

  • Joe Davis is the most successful player in World Snooker Championship history with 15 titles

  • Kyren Wilson became snooker champion of the world for the first time in 2024

Becoming world champion is the ultimate aim for every snooker player - but who will join the list of world snooker champions in 2024?

It’s when interest in snooker betting is at its highest, and when players have an opportunity to etch their names in the history books alongside greats of the game like Ronnie O’Sullivan, Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry. 

This is the event all snooker fans are waiting for. Starring in one of the best Snooker World Championship finals is a landmark in any career, such is the attention on the event. 

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Diehards are locked in for the duration, of course, but casual snooker fans will tune in for the matches at the Crucible more than at any other competition. The 2023 tournament broke records for its television reach with a total audience of over 13 million.

Accumulating prize money and hardware in other events is significant in any career, but it is not an exaggeration to say the World Championship is the pinnacle.

The world rankings might be an accurate picture of the best players in the world at any moment, but being world number one is incomparable to winning a world title. Let’s learn a bit more about the Snooker World Championship…

World Snooker Championship History

The first Snooker World Championship took place in 1927. Joe Davis reigned supreme during the early years, and claimed his final title just after the Second World War, but the event disappeared for a decade not long after. 

Starting off as a 10-player event alongside a two-week long billiards match, the World Championship operated on a challenge basis in 1928, with six players battling it out for the right to take on Davis.

Across adapting formats, and often with very small fields, Davis was champion in the first 15 World Championships. His reign was ended by Walter Donaldson before Davis’ brother Fred claimed three titles in four years.

A Matchplay tournament took over in the World Championship’s place between 1952 and 1957. After a seven-year break, the World Championship was reintroduced in 1964, again on a challenge basis.


John Pulman was dominant throughout this period before the competition adopted a knockout structure in 1969 – this is regarded as the beginning of the modern era.

The first World Championship group stage featured in 1970. Two years later, Alex Higgins emerged as one of the sport’s young stars, shattering records across the board and becoming the youngest ever world champion. 

In 1973, the move was made for the World Championship to be played over an intense, two-week period opposed to the prolonged schedule they had operated to previously.

Venues rotated throughout the first part of the 1970s, with some tournaments being shared between two host cities, and others played abroad.

It was only in 1977 that the World Championship adopted a permanent home. In the second season at the Crucible, Ray Reardon won his sixth world title. By the end of the decade, a new generation of players had arrived on the scene, and 24 players competed in the 1980 edition.

Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry dominated the 1980s and 1990s respectively. The 2000s saw a changing of the guard, with Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Williams and John Higgins repeatedly reaching the latter stages. O'Sullivan has been the most successful of the triumvirate, though Higgins and Williams have won four and three titles respectively. 

Mark Selby was a force throughout the 2010s and into the 2020s, while O’Sullivan continued to collect titles, including winning in 2020 and 2022. The 2023 event saw Luca Brecel become the first player from continental Europe to reach the final, which he won against Selby. 

Snooker World Championship Location

While the World Championship is synonymous with the Crucible for current snooker fans, the World Championship has actually been played at various venues.

Before adopting the Crucible as its home in 1976-77, World Championships have been held in South Africa (twice), Australia (twice) and Jersey. 

Numerous cities across the UK have hosted the tournament, too, starting out at Camkin’s Hall in Birmingham for the first two years.

Over the next four, it alternated between Nottingham and Thurston’s Hall in London before events at the Joe Davis Centre in Chesterfield and Central Hall in Kettering.

Six consecutive World Championships took place at Thurston’s Hall prior to the pause for the Second World War. 

Wythenshawe Forum held the final World Championship before its permanent move to the Crucible.

The Crucible has been the home of the World Championships since 1977. The theatre has a capacity of 980 and underwent a £15 million refurbishment between 2007 and 2009.

In 2022, plans became public for a new, 3,000-seater capacity arena attached to The Crucible to host the World Championships. Barry Hearn confirmed talks were ongoing with Sheffield Council, The architect for the new arena was also behind the design for Manchester City's Etihad Stadium.

Tickets for the World Championships sell out a long way in advance, so fans need to be aware of when the tickets first go on sale if they are hoping to attend World Championship matches at the Crucible. 

Snooker World Champions Prize Money

It is no surprise that the World Championship carries the largest prize money of any snooker event.

The total prize pool for the 2023 edition was a massive £2,395,000 with the eventual champion pocketing a cool half a million. 

The runner-up had to settle for £200,000, which is just £85,000 shy of the UK average house price in May 2024.

The two semi-finalists received £100,000, while the quarterfinalists appropriately pocketed half of that. 

A sum of £15,000 was available for the highest break across qualifying and the tournament proper.

Recording a 147 in the World Championship was worth £20,000. Two players achieved this feat, meaning they shared the prize money.

It’s not just prestige which makes the World Championships the headline event on the snooker calendar – it’s by far the biggest payday for snooker referees, too.

Just as it is the pinnacle, the same goes for referees. Being involved in the latter stages of the competition is a real opportunity for snooker referees to impress the governing body. 

Most Successful Snooker World Championship Players

Brothers Joe and Fred Davis are technically the most successful Snooker World Championship players with 15 and eight titles respectively.

Five of Fred’s titles were in the Matchplay era. Both competed before what is recognised as snooker’s ‘modern era’.

John Pulman recorded eight titles, although seven of those were through challenge matches. 

Since the competition took on its current format, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Stephen Hendry are tied with the most titles on seven apiece. Steve Davis won six in the 1980s, which was a record until he was toppled by Hendry. O’Sullivan has been the most efficient of that triumvirate, losing just once in the final. Hendry and Davis lost two finals apiece. 

O’Sullivan is tied with Fred Davis for the most appearances with 31. The Rocket has reached the semi-final or better 13 times, which is a record in the modern era. 

England is by far the most successful country with 13 different champions and 57 overall titles.

Australia (two), Belgium (one) and Canada (one) are the only countries outside the British Isles to provide a snooker world champion.

China, New Zealand and South Africa have all contributed finalists, but are still waiting for their first champion.

Snooker World Champions List

  • 1927 – Joe Davis

  • 1928 - Joe Davis

  • 1929 - Joe Davis

  • 1930 - Joe Davis

  • 1931 - Joe Davis

  • 1932 - Joe Davis

  • 1933 - Joe Davis

  • 1934 - Joe Davis

  • 1935 - Joe Davis

  • 1936 - Joe Davis

  • 1937 - Joe Davis

  • 1938 - Joe Davis

  • 1939 - Joe Davis

  • 1940 - Joe Davis

  • 1941-1945 – No Tournament

  • 1946 – Joe Davis

  • 1947 – Walter Donaldson

  • 1948 – Fred Davis

  • 1949 – Fred Davis

  • 1950 – Walter Donaldson

  • 1951 – Fred Davis

  • 1952 – Horace Lindrum

  • 1952 – Fred Davis

  • 1953 – Fred Davis

  • 1954 – Fred Davis

  • 1955 – Fred Davis

  • 1956 – Fred Davis

  • 1957 – John Pulman

  • 1958-1963 – No Tournament

  • 1964 – John Pulman

  • 1964 – John Pulman

  • 1965 – John Pulman

  • 1965 – John Pulman

  • 1965 – John Pulman

  • 1966 – John Pulman

  • 1968 – John Pulman

  • 1969 – John Spencer

  • 1970 – Ray Reardon

  • 1971 – John Spencer

  • 1972 – Alex Higgins

  • 1973 – Ray Reardon

  • 1974 – Ray Reardon

  • 1975 – Ray Reardon

  • 1976 – Ray Reardon

  • 1977 – John Spencer

  • 1978 – Ray Reardon

  • 1979 – Terry Griffiths

  • 1980 – Cliff Thorburn

  • 1981 – Steve Davis

  • 1982 – Alex Higgins

  • 1983 – Steve Davis

  • 1984 – Steve Davis

  • 1985 – Dennis Taylor

  • 1986 – Joe Johnson

  • 1987 – Steve Davis

  • 1988 – Steve Davis

  • 1989 – Steve Davis

  • 1990 – Stephen Hendry

  • 1991 – John Parrott 

  • 1992 – Stephen Hendry

  • 1993 – Stephen Hendry

  • 1994 – Stephen Hendry

  • 1995 – Stephen Hendry

  • 1996 – Stephen Hendry

  • 1997 – Ken Doherty

  • 1998 – John Higgins

  • 1999 – Stephen Hendry

  • 2000 – Mark Williams

  • 2001 – Ronnie O’Sullivan

  • 2002 – Peter Ebdon

  • 2003 – Mark Williams

  • 2004 – Ronnie O’Sullivan

  • 2005 – Shaun Murphy 

  • 2006 – Graeme Dott

  • 2007 – John Higgins

  • 2008 – Ronnie O’Sullivan

  • 2009 – John Higgins

  • 2010 – Neil Robertson

  • 2011 – John Higgins

  • 2012 – Ronnie O’Sullivan

  • 2013 – Ronnie O’Sullivan

  • 2014 – Mark Selby

  • 2015 – Stuart Bingham

  • 2016 – Mark Selby

  • 2017 – Mark Selby

  • 2018 – Mark Williams

  • 2019 – Judd Trump

  • 2020 – Ronnie O’Sullivan

  • 2021 - Mark Selby

  • 2022 - Ronnie O'Sullivan

  • 2023 - Luca Brecel

  • 2024 - Kyren Wilson

*Credit for all of the images in this article belongs to Alamy*

Sam is a sports tipster, specialising in the Premier League and Champions League.

He covers most sports, including cricket and Formula One. Sam particularly enjoys those on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean – notably MLB and NBA.

Watching, writing and talking about sports betting takes up most of his time, whether that is for a day out at T20 Finals Day or a long night of basketball.

Having been writing for several years, Sam has been working with 888Sport since 2016, contributing multiple articles per week to the blog.