Name: Joe Perry
DOB: 13th August 1974
Turned Pro: 1991
Highest Ranking: #12 (2008-2010)
Highest Break: 145 (2004 World Championship)
Career Highlights: 2008 World Championship semi-finalist, 2008 Championship League Winner, 2001 European Open finalist, 2004 & 2005 UK Championship semi-finalist, 2011/12 PTC1 & PTC12 finalist
It was only at the start of the 2008/9 season that we began to see the best of Joe Perry as he moved into the top 16 for the second time in his career. During this period he won the inaugural Championship League to qualify for the Premier League and also reached his first World Championship semi-final at the Crucible. For whatever reason however, Joe has since struggled for form and currently finds himself ranked outside of the world’s top 16.
Having experienced a solid career as a junior, Perry turned professional in 1991 and made his debut on the main tour at the start of the 1992/3 season. Unlike players such as Mark Williams and John Higgins however, it took Perry several seasons to establish himself, edging up the rankings through the 1990’s.
His first performance of real significance was to come at the end of the 1998/9 season when he qualified for the final stages of the World Championship for the first time in his career. Once there he was able to defeat six-times champion Steve Davis 10-9 in what was a dramatic finish on the final black before losing to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the second round. Despite defeat, Joe’s run saw him climb 40 places in the rankings to 34th.
Following another couple of solid seasons which saw him reach his first ranking event quarter-final in the 1999 China International, Joe found himself up inside the top 32 for the first time and in with a real chance of breaking into the elite top 16 at the end of the 2001/2.
This he managed to do, thanks largely to a tremendous run to his first ranking event final in Malta at the 2001 European Open. Having beaten Joe Swail, Matthew Stevens, Jimmy White and world number one, Mark Williams to reach the final, he was unfortunate to come up against Stephen Hendry at his very best, in the end losing 9-2. His place in the top 16 was confirmed when he again defeated Swail in the first round of the World Championship to end the season ranked 13th.
A poor season then followed however in which Joe won only two matches. Despite this he did manage to hang on to his top 16 place, but left himself with an uphill struggle for the following season when his points from 2001/2 would be lost.
So it proved as despite a run to the quarter-finals of the 2004 World Championship with a win against defending champion Mark Williams along the way, it was ultimately not to be enough as he dropped down to 20th in the rankings. He did at least make the high break at Sheffield though, a career high of 145 which was some consolation.
The following season was to be one of two halves as he started in strong form, culminating in a semi-final appearance at the UK Championship at the midway point of the season. This was however to prove the turning point for Joe’s season as he suffered a damaging defeat to David Gray, despite having left Gray needing snookers in the penultimate frame to stay in the match. This reverse had a huge impact on Perry’s season as he was to lose his next five matches, though he did move back into the top 16 at 14th.
Another couple of solid seasons were to follow, his best result being a second UK Championship semi-final in 2005 as he hovered just outside the top 16 of the rankings.
In 2007/8 however he was to have his most successful season to date, playing well throughout before winning the inaugural Championship League competition in May 2008. This earned him a spot in the Premier League for the first time, as well as a tidy sum of prize money as a result of the cash for frames format in that competition.
The added confidence and match practice gained from this competition seemed to be something that helped Joe on the ranking circuit too as in Sheffield he went on a terrific run to the semi-finals of the World Championship for the first time. Following a high quality match with 2006 champion Graeme Dott in the first round, he then defeated Stuart Bingham in the last 16 before edging world number two Stephen Maguire in a deciding frame shoot-out.
In the semi-finals Joe was to meet Ali Carter, another player to benefit from the playing opportunities afforded by the Championship League. It was to prove a hard-fought encounter before a mobile telephone rang out from the crowd at 16-16 when Joe was at the table and that eventually proved to be the turning point as Carter took the next two frames to reach the final.
Despite this defeat, Joe was at that time playing the best snooker of his career and was up to a career high ranking of 12th at the start of the 2008/9 season which he started with a couple of ties with number 1 Ronnie O’Sullivan. Although he lost out to the world number one in Northern Ireland, Joe produced a fantastic performance to beat him for the first time on his Premier League debut in Derby. He struggled to close out the match but by potting a stunning green managed to just get over the line.
Following this result his Premier League campaign went from strength to strength as he lost just one match on his way to second place in the league stage. For the third time during the season he was to face world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan in the play-offs however and suffered a narrow 5-4 defeat.
He would not have to wait long for yet another crack at the reigning world champion however as at the UK Championship they were to meet in the last 16 for the third time in a ranking event that season. It was Joe who made the better start to lead 2-0 but he could do little to resist O’Sullivan who made three centuries on the way to a 5-2 lead with just one frame to go in the session.
Crucially however it was Joe who managed to snatch it with a break of 54 and this was to make the difference as the second session was a totally different story. From 5-3 down Joe managed to take the four frames before the mid-session interval to lead 7-5 as O’Sullivan lost his head and conceded frame 12 with several balls on the table. Often an interval can change the pattern of a match but it was not to be the case here as Joe completed a six frame winning streak and a brilliant 9-7 win, his first against O’Sullivan at a ranking event.
Unfortunately for Joe however, he was to lose out to eventual finalist Marco Fu in the next round and would then suffer a loss of form as he lost his opening match at the Masters (yep you guessed it, again to O’Sullivan) and then slipped to a deciding frame loss to David Gilbert in the last 32 of the Welsh Open.
His poor run continued with an early exit in China at the hands of Ricky Walden and then also at the Crucible as he became one of just two members of the top 16 to lose in the first round, slipping up against an irrepressible Jamie Cope. As a result despite coming into the season in excellent form, he was unable to improve on 12th position in the rankings.
Joe’s poor run continued at the start of 2009/10 as last 32 defeats at the Shanghai Masters and UK Championship saw him slip down to 19th place on the provisional list at the season’s halfway point. He did at least win a couple of matches at the Grand Prix to prevent 2009 drawing a total blank, but all things considered it was a year to forget for Joe.
His fortunes were to get worse before they got better in 2010 as he suffered an embarrassing 6-0 defeat at the hands of Ryan Day at the Wembley Masters, his performance unrecognisable from those that he was putting in a year earlier.
Thankfully this was to be as bad as things would get for Joe as although he lost out to Graeme Dott at the Welsh Open, his display was much improved and in China he finally got another win on the board before also winning his last 32 match against Michael Holt at the Crucible to keep his hopes of retaining his top 16 place alive.
Unfortunately however, despite a brilliant comeback during the third session, these were to be extinguished by Ali Carter at the last 16 stage with defeat confirming that he would drop seven places to 19th at the end of the campaign.
Joe’s indifferent form continued into the 2010/11 season as although he won matches during the Players Tour Championship, last 48 defeats at both the Shanghai Masters and World Open ensured that he would remain ranked outside the top 16 at the season’s first seedings revision.
Joe in action at the Southwest Snooker Academy
There were signs of improvement at the EPTC4 and 5 events though and following the UK Championship his results were to improve significantly as he was able to qualify for the last four events of the season. His best run came in Berlin as he defeated Alan McManus, Jamie Cope and Ali Carter to reach the quarter-finals before losing out to eventual winner Mark Williams.
There was however to be disappointment at the Crucible as he lost a dramatic match 10-9 on the colours to Stephen Hendry following a missed brown to a middle-pocket.
Having signed up with management company On Q Promotions at the start of the season, Joe made a terrific start by progressing to the final of PTC1 in Sheffield, losing only to an on-song Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final.
From there however, Joe began to struggle for results, losing his opening match at the first three full-ranking tournaments of the season, notably including his UK Championship qualifier to Adrian Gunnell in Gloucester.
He did however bounce back at the last PTC event of the season, reaching a second final which he lost 4-2 to Stephen Maguire, while he was also able to reach the last 16 of both the German Masters and Haikou World Open tournaments.
A quarter-final run at the PTC Grand Finals gave him a further boost, before he ended his season with a last 16 run at the Crucible, defeating Jamie Burnett and Graeme Dott to make it to that stage, before losing 13-7 to Stephen Maguire.
Joe’s strongest result during the first half of the 2012/13 season was to come at the Shanghai Masters, as he defeated Matthew Stevens and Neil Robertson, before losing out in a deciding frame to Welshman Mark Williams.
He headed into the year-ending UK Championship with a chance to break back into the world’s top 16, however a 6-4 defeat to Jack Lisowski in qualifying was to end his hopes.
Non-Ranking Event wins (1)