Davis at the 2012 Paul Hunter Classic
22 August 1957 |
|Career winnings||£5,614,630 (up to the end of 2008/2009)|
|Highest break||147 ( 1982 Classic)|
|Century breaks||325 (as of 23 October 2011)|
|World Champion||1981, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1989|
Steve Davis, OBE (born 22 August 1957 in Plumstead, London) is an English professional snooker player. He has won more professional titles in the sport than any other player, including six World Championships during the 1980s, when he was the world number one for seven years and became the sport's first millionaire. He has won 28 ranking events in total, second only to Stephen Hendry.
Davis' achievements also include three Masters and a record six UK Championship titles. In 1988 he became the first player to complete snooker's Triple Crown in a single season. He is also a former four-time World Doubles champion with Tony Meo and won the World Team Classic/World Cup four times with England. In 1982, he became the first player to compile an official televised maximum break and is one of five players to have compiled over 300 competitive century breaks. Though he has not won a major tournament since 1997, he continues to play snooker at a high level and reached the quarter-finals at the 2010 World Championship. He was still ranked in the world's top 16 at the age of 50, and is ranked number 49 after the Players Tour Championship 2012/2013 – Finals.
Davis has also competed in pool and poker events and has written books on a variety of subjects. He played at the Mosconi Cup between 1994 and 2004 as a member of Team Europe, winning the event in 1995 and 2002, and reached the final table of the 2003 Poker Million. He was made an MBE in 1998 and an OBE in 2001. He now combines his playing career with his role as an established television analyst and occasional commentator for the BBC's snooker coverage.
In the book Masters of the Baize, a detailed comparison and ranking of snooker professionals, authors Luke Williams and Paul Gadsby rated Davis as the third greatest snooker player of all time behind Joe Davis and Stephen Hendry. As of 2011, Davis has won a record 80 professional titles from 115 finals, 28 of them in ranking events. His record of six world titles in the modern era has been bettered only by Hendry and no player has yet matched his tally of six UK titles. Davis has also compiled over 300 competitive centuries during his career. In 2011 he was inducted to World Snooker's newly created Hall of Fame along with seven former World Champions.
Davis was introduced to snooker by his father Bill, a keen player, who took him to play at his local working men's club at the age of 12, and gave him Joe Davis' instructional book How I Play Snooker. They studied the book and built Steve Davis's own technique on it in the 1970s. He started playing at the Lucania Snooker Club in Romford, where at the age of 18 the manager of the club brought his talent to the attention of Barry Hearn, chairman of the Lucania chain of snooker halls. Hearn became Davis' friend and manager. Paid £25 a match by Hearn, Davis toured the country, taking part in challenge matches against established professionals such as Ray Reardon, John Spencer and Alex Higgins. Around this time he was given the nickname "Nugget" because, according to Hearn, "you could put your case of money on him and you knew you were going to get paid."
Davis won the English Under-19 Billiards Championship in 1976. One of his last wins as an amateur was against another future professional Tony Meo in the final of the Pontin's Spring Open of 1978. A year later he successfully defended his title, this time defeating another of his future rivals, Jimmy White, 7–4 in the final. Davis turned professional on 17 September 1978 and made his professional television debut on Pot Black, where he played against Fred Davis. He made his World Championship debut in 1979, losing 11–13 to Dennis Taylor in the first round.
Dominance of snooker
Davis came to public prominence after his performance at the 1980 World Championship, where he reached the quarter-finals, defeating defending champion Terry Griffiths en route, before losing to Alex Higgins. Davis won his first major title in the same year – the UK Championship – during which he beat Griffiths 9–0 in the semi-finals and Higgins 16–6 in the final. This began an 18-month period of dominance. He won the Classic and then the International Masters and English Professional titles in 1981, and became the bookmakers' favourite to win the 1981 World Championship, despite being seeded only 15. Davis reached the final by defeating Jimmy White in the first round, Higgins in the second round, Griffiths in the quarter-finals and defending champion Cliff Thorburn in the semi-final. Davis's 18–12 victory over Doug Mountjoy in the final confirmed bookmakers' early predictions, and in celebration his manager Barry Hearn charged across the arena to lift him up in the air. He would go on to reach seven out of the next eight world finals.
He followed up his world title win with a 9–0 final victory over Dennis Taylor in the International Open and then retained the UK Championship with a 9–0 whitewash over White in the semi-finals and a 16–3 win over Griffiths in the final. This began a period of six months in which Davis and Griffiths contested almost all the major tournament finals. During this run, in January 1982, Davis made television snooker history when he compiled the first televised maximum break at the Classic at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Oldham, against John Spencer, though he subsequently lost 8–9 in the final against Griffiths. In 1982 Davis won his first Masters title, defeating Griffiths 9–6 in the final.
Davis's 18-month period of dominance ended at the 1982 World Championship, when he succumbed to the so-called " Crucible Curse", losing 1–10 against Tony Knowles in the first round. Later that year, he couldn't win a third consecutive UK title as he lost in the quarter-finals against Griffiths. Following those two setbacks, he won the World Doubles Championship title with partner Tony Meo. In 1983 Davis regained the world title with a session to spare in the final, defeating an overwhelmed Thorburn 18–6; Thorburn had seen his previous three matches go to a deciding frame and a late finish. Davis lost 15–16 to Higgins in the 1983 UK Championship final, despite having led 7–0 at one point of the match. In 1984, he became the first player to retain his world title at the Crucible Theatre by beating Jimmy White 18–16 in the final. He also regained the UK title in 1984 defeating Higgins 16–8.
Black ball final
At the 1985 World Championship, Davis dropped only 23 frames en route to the final, where his opponent was Dennis Taylor. He looked set for a third consecutive world title after an opening session of near-faultless snooker gave him a 7–0 lead, which he extended to 8–0 in the evening session, but Taylor recovered to trail only 7–9. From 11–11 the pair traded frames before Davis forged ahead to lead 17–15. Taylor won the next two frames to level the match at 17–17 and force a deciding frame. With the scores close, Taylor potted the final colours to leave the black as the winner-takes-all ball. After a series of safety shots and attempts at potting it, Davis over-cut the black, leaving Taylor with a reasonably straightforward pot to secure the championship. The "nailbiting" finale drew 18.5 million viewers, a record post-midnight audience on British television and a record audience for BBC Two. The black-ball finish was voted the ninth greatest sporting moment of all time in a 2002 Channel 4 poll.
Davis and Taylor met again in the final of the 1985 Grand Prix, but this time Davis won in the deciding frame. At 10 hours 21 minutes, it remains the longest one-day final in snooker history. In the 1985 UK Championship final Davis trailed 8–13 against Willie Thorne, who missed a blue off the spot which would have given him a 14–8 lead. Davis won the frame and then seven of the next eight to win 16–14. At the 1986 World Championship, Davis defeated White 13–5 in the quarter-finals and Thorburn 16–12 in the semi-finals, Davis's opponent in the final was Joe Johnson, who had started the tournament as a 150–1 outsider. Davis lost the match 12–18. The result did not affect his position at the top of the world rankings, as he had won the UK Championship, the Grand Prix and the British Open in the 1985/1986 season. At the end of 1986 he beat Neal Foulds 16–7 to retain the UK Championship.
Davis started 1987 by winning the Classic, beating defending champion Jimmy White 13–12. At the World Championship, he defeated Griffiths 13–5 in the quarter-final, and White 16–11 in the semi-final. In the final he again met Johnson, and established a 14–10 lead after three sessions. Johnson reduced Davis' lead to 14–13, but Davis won four of the next five frames to win the match 18–14 and regain the title. In beating Johnson he became the first player to win the UK Championship, Masters and World Championship in the same year. In December he retained his UK title with a 16–14 final win against White. In 1988 retained the Classic, claimed his second Masters title with a 9–0 final whitewash of Mike Hallett (the only final whitewash in the event's history), won the World Cup with England and won his fourth Irish Masters title. In the World Championship Davis defeated Hallett 13–1, Tony Drago 13–4 and Thorburn 16–8 en route to the final, where he met Griffiths. Davis established a 5–2 lead after the first session, but Griffiths levelled at 8–8 after the second. On the second day of the match Davis took ten out of thirteen frames to win 18–11 and claim his fifth world title.
Davis won the first ranking event of the 1988/1989 season with a 12–6 win over White in the International Open; in the same match, he became the first player to make three consecutive century breaks in a major tournament. In October, Davis won the Grand Prix, beating Alex Higgins 10–6 in the final to hold the World, UK, Masters, Grand Prix, Classic and Irish Masters titles simultaneously. However, his four year unbeaten run at the UK Championship came to an end in December with a 3–9 semi-final loss to Hendry. He did not win another major title that season until the 1989 World Championship, where he beat Hendry 16–9 in the semi-finals before going on to complete the heaviest victory in a world final of the modern era with an 18–3 win over John Parrott, his last world championship to date. In October he retained the Grand Prix, beating Dean Reynolds 10–0 in the final, the first whitewash in a ranking event final. By the end of the 1980s, Davis was snooker's first millionaire.
In the 1990 World Championship, Davis was denied an eighth consecutive appearance in the final by Jimmy White, who won their semi-final 16–14. Davis was replaced as world number one by Stephen Hendry at the end of the 1989/90 season. He was ranked number 2 for the 1990/1991, 1991/1992, 1994/1995 and 1995/1996 seasons. He reached the semi-finals of the World Championships in 1991 and 1994. He also won the Irish Masters in 1990, 1991, 1993 and 1994, the Classic and the Asian Open in 1992, the European Open in 1993, and consecutive Welsh Open titles in 1994 and 1995. His successful defence of his Welsh Open title in 1995 is to date his last ranking title. Davis's last victory in a major tournament came at the 1997 Masters. Trailing his opponent Ronnie O'Sullivan 4–8 in the final, he won the next six frames to secure a 10–8 win.
After a season which saw Davis reach only one ranking event quarter-final, Davis dropped out of the top 16 for the 2000/2001 season, and failed to qualify for the World Championship for the next two years. After failing to qualify for the World Snooker Championship for the first time in his professional career in 2001, Davis felt that retiring would be the easy thing to do, but as he still liked the challenge of snooker, he continued playing, and regained his place in the top 16 for the 2003/2004 season. He was runner-up in the 2004 Welsh Open to O'Sullivan, losing 8–9 after having led 8–5. In 2005 he reached the quarter finals of the World Championship, losing to eventual winner Shaun Murphy.
At the 2005 UK Championship, held in York, Davis reached his 100th major career final, and made his first appearance in the UK final since 1990. En route he beat defending champion Stephen Maguire 9–8, a win which included a 145 break; and then Stephen Hendry 9–6 in the semi-finals to reach the final, where he lost 6–10 against Ding Junhui. Before the World Championships Davis brushed off suggestions of retirement, and he reached the second round, where he lost to Murphy. Davis's performances through the 2006/2007 season, including reaching the UK Championship quarter-finals and the Welsh Open semi-finals, ensured he was still a top 16 player at the age of 50.
He dropped out of the top sixteen a year later, but showed form in the 2008/2009 season by reaching the quarter-finals of both the Shanghai Masters and Grand Prix, the first time he had reached consecutive ranking event quarter-finals since 1996. At the World Championship Davis lost in the first round 2–10 against Neil Robertson. After the match he again dismissed talk of his retirement.
In the first two tournaments of the 2009/2010 season Davis failed to qualify for the televised stages as he lost 4–5 against Matthew Selt in the Shanghai Masters and 0–5 against Mark Davis in the Grand Prix. In the next tournament, the UK Championship, he defeated Michael Judge 9–7 to set up a first round match against Hendry, which he lost 6–9. Davis started 2010 by failing to qualify for the Welsh Open and the China Open, losing 2–5 against Dominic Dale and 3–5 against Mike Dunn respectively in the final qualifying round. In March he qualified for the World Championship for a record 30th time by defeating Adrian Gunnell 10–4.
In the first round Davis defeated Mark King 10–9, becoming, at the age of 52, the oldest player to win a match at the Crucible since Eddie Charlton beat Cliff Thorburn in 1989. In the second round against defending champion John Higgins, a 1–20 favourite, Davis led 6–2 after the first session, 9–7 after the second session, and ultimately won 13–11, a win Clive Everton described as "the greatest upset in the 33 years the Crucible has been hosting the championship." This made him the oldest world quarter-finalist since Charlton in 1983. In the quarter-final match against Australian Neil Robertson, Davis recovered from a 2–12 deficit to force the match into the third session, eventually losing 5–13. On 29 April 2010, to mark the 25th anniversary of their black-ball final of 1985, Davis appeared with Dennis Taylor before the beginning of the first semi-final, to stage a humorous re-enactment of their historic final frame. Taylor entered the arena wearing a pair of comically oversized glasses, while Davis arrived sporting a red wig.
Davis started the 2010/2011 season by qualifying to the televised stages of Shanghai Masters, whitewashing Rod Lawler 5–0, but lost in the first round 3–5 against Jamie Cope. He lost his qualifying matches in the next two tournaments, he lost 1–3 against Peter Ebdon in the last 64 of the World Open and 2–9 against Mark Joyce in the last 48 of the UK Championship. He also participated at the Players Tour Championship, where his best results came at the Paul Hunter Classic, where he reached the quarter-finals, but lost 1–4 against Shaun Murphy. He finished 67 on the Order of Merit. Davis also reached the final of the World Seniors Championship, but lost in the final 1–4 against Jimmy White. He reached the third qualifying round of the German Masters, but was whitewashed by Ryan Day 0–5. Davis lost his first qualifying matches of the next two tournaments. He was beaten by Joe Jogia 3–4 in the Welsh Open and 4–5 by James Wattana in the China Open. He narrowly reached the last qualifying round of the World Championship, by defeating Jack Lisowski 10–9, but lost against Stephen Lee 2–10.
Davis started the 2011/2012 season at number 44, his lowest rank since turning professional. He lost his first qualifying match at the Shanghai Masters 1–5 against Passakorn Suwannawat. Davis also participated at the Players Tour Championship, where his best results came at the Warsaw Classic, where he reached the semi-finals, but lost 3–4 against Ricky Walden. He finished number 26 on the Order of Merit. After 2010 he reached the final of the World Seniors Championship, but again lost in the final, this time 1–2 against Darren Morgan. He qualified for the UK Championship, by defeating both Ian McCulloch and Andrew Higginson 6–2, but he couldn't qualify to the German Masters as he lost 1–5 against Robert Milkins and also lost in the first round of the UK Championship 1–6 against Ronnie O'Sullivan. Davis than missed the World Open, as he lost his first qualifying match 1–5 against Ian McCulloch, but reached the last 16 of the Welsh Open with three 4–3 victories, defeating Lucky Vatnani, Ricky Walden and Allister Carter, before losing 0–4 against Shaun Murphy. However he then didn't qualify for either the China Open, nor the World Snooker Championship, losing 1–5 to Rory McLeod and 7–10 to Ben Woollaston respectively.
Davis started the 2012/2013 season at number 51, but couldn't qualify for the first two ranking events, as he lost 3–5 against Kurt Maflin at the Wuxi Classic, and 0–5 against Michael Wild at the Australian Goldfields Open. Davis took part in the Six-red World Championship, where he finished third in Group E with three wins out of five matches and advanced to the knock-out stage, but lost 1–6 against Mark Davis in the last 32. Davis qualified for the Shanghai Masters by defeating Alfie Burden 5–1 and Andrew Higginson 5–0. There he defeated Zhu Yinghui 5–1 to reach the last 32, but lost 4–5 against Ricky Walden. He however couldn't qualify for the International Championship after losing his first qualifying match 5–6 against Pankaj Advani. Davis then qualified for the final stages of the UK Championship by defeating Advani 6–5 and Jamie Burnett 6–2, but lost 2–6 against Ali Carter. He also lost hist first qualifying match at German Masters 4–5 against Simon Bedford.
From 1994 to 2007, Davis played in professional nine-ball pool events regularly. He was instrumental in the creation of the Mosconi Cup, and has represented Europe in the tournament on eleven occasions, and was a member of the team's 1995 and 2002 wins; his victory against the US's Earl Strickland clinched the 2002 competition for Europe. In 2001, Davis nearly won his first singles title in pool at the World Pool League. However, Efren Reyes defeated him 9–5 the final. Sid Waddell gave him the nickname "Romford Slim" and said he was Britain's answer to the famous American pool player Rudolf "Minnesota Fats" Wanderone. Davis dislikes eight-ball pool as played on English-style tables in British pubs and clubs, considering it a "Mickey Mouse game" because of its under-sized cue ball in relation to the other balls, but made it clear that he is only critical of the game when it is played with an undersized cue ball. He is also a keen chess player and was for a while the President of the British Chess Federation.
Davis has also become a proficient poker player, with successful appearances at televised tournaments; one of these included an appearance at the final table of the 2003 Poker Million together with fellow snooker player Jimmy White, who eventually won. Later, at Event 41 of the 2006 World Series of Poker, Davis finished 579th, winning US$20,617. At Event 54 of the 2008 World Series of Poker he finished 389th, winning $28,950. At Event 56 of the 2010 World Series of Poker he finished 131st, winning $5,491. At Event 22 of the 2011 The Grand Poker Series he finished 8th, winning $2,049.
In 1988, Davis was named the BBC Sports Personality of the Year and was made an MBE. He was awarded an OBE in 2001, and is currently honorary president of the Snooker Writers' Association. Davis is a big fan of the French progressive rock band Magma, and even organised a concert in London so he could watch them. Davis is on the board of Leyton Orient football club, which he has revealed to be more of a gimmick; Davis has been a Charlton Athletic fan most of his life, and Barry Hearn is the Orient chairman. He lives in Brentwood, Essex, and divorced from his wife Judith in 2005 after 15 years of marriage. Together, they have two sons called Greg (born 1991) and Jack (born 1993). In 2012 Greg Davis entered the Q School, with the aim of winning a place on the professional snooker tour.
Performance and rankings timeline
|Performance Table Legend|
|LQ||lost in the qualifying draw||#R||lost in the early rounds of the tournament
(RR = round robin)
|QF||advanced to but not past the quarterfinals||SF||advanced to but not past the semifinals|
|F||advanced to the final, tournament runner-up||W||won the tournament|
|A||did not participate in the tournament||NH||Tournament was not held|
|MR / Minor-ranking event||means an event is/was a minor-ranking event.|
|Italics / NR / Non-ranking event||means an event is/was no longer a ranking event.|
|R / Ranking event||means an event is/was now a ranking event|
Ranking finals: 41 (28 titles, 13 runner-ups)
Non-ranking finals: 74 (52 titles, 22 runner-ups)
Variant event finals: 1 (1 runner-up)
|Outcome||No.||Year||Championship||Opponent in the final||Score||Ref.|
|Runner-up||1.||2011||World Seniors Championship||Darren Morgan||1–2|
Team finals: 11 (9 title, 2 runner-ups)
|Outcome||No.||Year||Championship||Team/partner||Opponent(s) in the final||Score||Ref.|
|Winner||1.||1981||World Team Classic||England||Wales||4–3|
|Runner-up||1.||1982||World Team Classic||England||Canada||2–4|
|Winner||2.||1982||World Doubles Championship||Tony Meo|| Terry Griffiths
|Winner||3.||1983||World Team Classic (2)||England||Wales||4–2|
|Winner||4.||1983||World Doubles Championship (2)||Tony Meo|| Jimmy White
|Runner-up||2.||1985||World Cup (2)||England||All Ireland||7–9|
|Winner||5.||1985||World Doubles Championship (3)||Tony Meo|| Ray Reardon
|Winner||6.||1986||World Doubles Championship (4)||Tony Meo|| Stephen Hendry
|Winner||7.||1988||World Cup (3)||England||Australia||9–7|
|Winner||8.||1989||World Cup (4)||England||Rest of the World||9–8|
|Winner||9.||1991||World Masters||Allison Fisher|| Jimmy White
Pro-am finals: 2 (2 titles)
|Outcome||No.||Year||Championship||Opponent in the final||Score||Ref.|
|Winner||1.||1978||Pontin's Spring Open||Tony Meo||7–6|
|Winner||2.||1979||Pontin's Spring Open||Jimmy White||7–4|