Ryan Day was the big breakthrough man of 2017/18 – could Michael Holt be about to do the same in the upcoming campaign?
The Hitman is one of a few names in the frame to take on the unwanted title as snooker’s ‘best player never to have won a ranking title’ after Welshman Day landed two last season.
It’s about the biggest back-handed compliment going but keeps us all amused for hours on Twitter as we debate the candidates. Holt is high up everyone’s list and would love to get his hands on silverware after more than 20 years as a snooker professional.
“You hear people talk about it all the time (the best player never to have won a ranking event debate) and it’s all a load of rubbish really but everyone’s got an opinion I suppose,” he told The Sportsman.
“When I hear people say it about me I just hate it. They’re calling me the best loser. It’s not nice!”
Holt came closest to silverware when he reached the final of the Riga Masters in 2016 before losing to Neil Robertson. That’s the first tournament of this coming campaign with Holt up against Matthew Stevens in round one as he looks to land the knockout punch.
“I need to the hit the ball better and then I give myself a better chance,” he said.
“But I know it (winning a ranking title) can happen. I keep working hard and believe I have the game to do it.
“If I had to describe my season in a word last season it was ‘shocking’ and it felt as bad as it could get. I’m not a man to make excuses and I just know my level wasn’t good enough.
“There’s no magic formula but I’ll be out there giving it everything.”
The best and the rest
Off the table, Holt is good friends with world number one and three-time world champion Mark Selby and he spoke candidly about the difference in his own game and those at the top who should be considered the real greats.
“They just don’t play badly very often,” he said. “Mark is an awesome player but it’s all about making less mistakes than the rest of us.
“You find in top sport that you don’t need to play well very often. But if you can find a way to play badly less often, you stay in tournaments longer and give yourself more chances to play well.
“I know deep down inside that I can play and I don’t ever look around and ever feel inferior to the top players; I’ve beaten almost all of them at some stage in my career.
“I just think I put a lot of pressure on myself and want it too bad sometimes when in fact it’s just a game of snooker.”