Who is Jak Jones? The Welsh qualifier making history at the World Snooker Championship

The 30-year-old has made a surprise run to the World Championship final in Sheffield, where he faces Kyren Wilson

Harry Latham-Coyle
Sunday 05 May 2024 13:27 BST
Jak Jones has impressed on his second appearance at the World Championship
Jak Jones has impressed on his second appearance at the World Championship (Martin Rickett/PA Wire)

It took Jak Jones time to reach snooker’s biggest stage but the Welshman has made his presence felt since stepping into the Crucible. Nine times the 30-year-old tried and failed to make it through qualifying for the World Snooker Championship before finally breaking through last year — but Jones has swiftly established himself as a Sheffield specialist.

The Welshman’s attritional style of play has not been to everyone’s taste, however. As Jones headed into his first World Championship final, he blasted “pathetic” criticism from opponents Stuart Bingham and Judd Trump, who both implied his frustrating tactics had affected their rhythm and ultimately contributed to their defeats.

According to World Snooker Tour’s seasonal average shot times, Jones is the 107th slowest of 128 players on the tour, with each shot taking over 28 seconds. Only Zhang Anda in this year’s tournament was slower. But he retorted: “It seems like a common excuse that these players use against me. They are supposed to be the best players in the world but they are moaning about being knocked out of their rhythm.

“I don’t think 28 seconds a shot is slow for my first semi-final. Other players regularly go down to their late 20s but they always have to say the same thing after they lose against me.

“They just can’t accept it. It’s pathetic really, isn’t it. The worst thing I’ve noticed when I’m playing them is that I feel like they want to play that game. I couldn’t believe how Judd was playing against me – he completely changed as a player.

“It doesn’t bother me. It is easy to blame what I am doing but it is working so I will take it.”

Jones is only the ninth qualifier to reach a Crucible final and began the 2023 edition having reached a ranking event quarter-final just twice in a career. Previously, a semi-final at the now-defunct Gibraltar Open was the height of his achievements. For a player who seemed to possess a complete game and ideal temperament, it felt strange that Jones had yet to really make his mark.

But the longer matches that the World Championship provides suit a composed character nicknamed ‘The Silent Assassin’. Wins over Ali Carter and Neil Robertson took him into the last eight on Crucible debut before falling 13-10 to Mark Allen in a tight quarter-final, a run that marked the Cwmbran-born potter as one to watch for the future.

Jak Jones is hoping to continue his breakthrough run
Jak Jones is hoping to continue his breakthrough run (PA Wire)

The deep run did not immediately provide a springboard into the 2023/24 season. In seven events this campaign, Jones had been beyond the second round only once — on home soil at the Welsh Open — and the momentum gained by his last-eight appearance seemed to have been lost.

Yet he has once again saved his best snooker for when it matters most. If an encounter with snooker’s form player in the quarter-finals felt a likely endpoint to another encouraging run, then a win over Trump to reach the single-table set-up was evidence of Jones’ big-match bottle.

“I’ve not really thought anything of it,” Jones said after that last-eight victory. “I’m just playing snooker like I do every day in the club, obviously it’s slightly different out there, I’m just trying not to think of it... just play snooker.”

Only twice before has a qualifier won the World Championship at the Crucible, Terry Griffiths’s feat in 1979 repeated by a young Shaun Murphy in 2005. Jones will bid to join the exclusive group this weekend, having got into snooker after a chance encounter with 1994 World Championship semi-finalist Darren Morgan on holiday in Corfu.

(Getty Images)

Spotting his natural potting talent, his fellow Welshman encouraged him to join a club once he’d returned home. Morgan has tipped his former protege to build further from here.

“I just think it’s going to be Jak’s year, there’s no one there playing any better than him and that’s for sure,” Morgan told BBC Radio Wales. “As long as he can hold himself together, I think he’ll be fine.

“He is a very cool customer, he’s very quiet and quite reserved. He’s got married in the last 12-14 months and he goes about his business right, he’s a work horse. The boy practices and practices, that’s never changed from when he was with me at my club to where he is now. You only get out what you put in, if you keep knocking on that door, one day that door will open.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in