Name: Daniel Wells
DOB: 31st July 1988
Turned Pro: 2008
Highest Ranking: 70th (2009/10)
Highest Break: 133 (2010 Brugge Open)
Career Highlights: 2011 EBSA European Champion, 2011 World Championship last 48, 2007 Paul Hunter Scholar, 2007 World U-21 Championship semi-finalist, 2012 Q School qualifier
One of several talented young Welsh players coming through at the moment, Daniel first came to the attention of the wider public when he was awarded the inaugural Paul Hunter Scholarship for the 2007/8 season. Spending a year at the academy in Sheffield, practising with top players like Ding Junhui and Peter Ebdon, he performed well in the PIOS and by finishing 5th in the rankings, secured a spot on the main tour for 2008/9.
The first half of Daniel’s maiden professional season was to prove solid if not spectacular, though he did make the third qualifying round in Bahrain and recorded impressive wins over Jimmy Michie and Liang Wenbo during the Masters qualifying tournament.
It was in the last two events where he really impressed though, again reaching the third round in the Welsh Open before going one better at the all-important World Championship qualifiers in February. It was a dramatic run in which he won his first three matches against Li Hang, Ian Preece and Marcus Campbell by a 10-9 scoreline, before he was eventually halted by Barry Hawkins, again 10-9 in the final round.
He had at least already done enough however to retain his place on the main tour for a second season.
Daniel again enjoyed a solid start to the following season, winning his opening match at both the Shanghai Masters and the Grand Prix qualifiers.
That was to be as good as it got however, a 9-8 defeat to fellow Neath pro Michael White at the UK Championship giving himself a mountain to climb before a 10-7 defeat to David Gray at the season-ending World Championship confirmed his relegation from the tour.
Although not a member of the professional circuit during the 2010/11 season, Daniel was able to compete in the new Players Tour Championship events as an amateur and recorded a series of impressive victories during the 12 events staged. Though he was not able to qualify for the Grand Finals in Dublin, his performances were enough to see him finish 30th on the Order of Merit, comfortably the highest ranked amateur.
As well as making a wildcard appearance at the German Masters where he defeated Liu Song to reach the last 32 stage, the Welsh youngster also secured a return to the main tour for 2011/12 as the Welsh nomination.
Daniel then signed off his amateur career in style in Sofia as he defeated Ireland’s Vinnie Muldoon 7-4 to win the EBSA European Championship.
To the surprise of many, Daniel was to experience a disastrous start to the 2011/12 season, failing to win a single match during the PTC events staged in 2011 and defeating only Kacper Filipiak in the first qualifying round of the UK Championship in the full-ranking events.
The second half of his season was to be little better as he won just two further matches, the first against David Grace at the Welsh Open qualifiers before he also ended the career of Joe Swail at the World Championship with a 10-5 victory.
His 10-4 defeat to Ben Woollaston in the second round would confirm his relegation from the tour, however he was to secure an immediate return following victories against Mark Vincent, Josh Boileau, Lucky Vatnani, Ben Jones and Michael Wasley at the second event of the 2012 Q School.
Daniel told World Snooker:
“It was unbelievable, I’ve never felt emotion like it,”
“It’s a different type of pressure to what I have been through before and it would have been very tough to lose in the last round and have to play in the last Q School event. But I’m really pleased with how I held myself together tonight.”
“Last season was the worst of my career. Around January I was on the verge of packing the game up because I couldn’t hit the cue ball. I was scared to hit the ball and couldn’t release the cue. I lost to Craig Steadman in a PTC event and he actually said he felt sorry for me.”
“Then I went to see coach Del Hill, and he and Mark Fenton have helped me turn it around. Something clicked and everything started coming back to me. I can look forward to next season now and feel as if I am playing well again.”
“In the past I have driven myself insane and there was no way I could go on like that. I still want to be a top player, but above all I just want to enjoy the game now.”
Daniel was again to struggle during the early stages of the 2012/13 season, losing his opening six matches of the campaign, before defeating Thailand’s Passakorn Suwannawat at the International Championship qualifiers to reach the second qualifying round.
Following that win, Daniel appeared to take confidence from it, winning a further five matches before the turn of the year, qualifying for the venue stages of the German Masters to set up a tie with Neil Robertson, an opponent who had already beaten him twice during the season previously.
Further wins were to come in qualifying for the China Open and Welsh Open tournaments, before he finished the season with a 10-7 defeat against India’s Aditya Mehta.
Daniel’s strongest runs during the 2013/14 season were to come during the European Tour events, as he reached the last 32 on two occasions, but despite his efforts he was unable to retain his place on tour for another season, finishing ranked 100th at the expiration of his two-year card.
During the course of the 2014/15 season Daniel entered a number of main tour events thanks to his position on the Q School Order of Merit, winning matches at the Australian Goldfields Open qualifiers and the China Open qualifiers.
At the end of the season the Welshman entered Q School and defeated five players culminating in Swiss youngster Alexander Ursenbacher to become only the third player after Tian Pengfei and David Morris to come through Q School on more than one occasion.
Daniel would therefore earn a fresh two-year tour card from the start of the 2015/16 season.