Joe Swail at the 2011 German Masters
|Born||29 August 1969|
|Sport country||Northern Ireland|
|Highest ranking||10 (2001/02)|
|67 (as of 6 April 2015)|
|Highest break||142 (1999 China Open Qualifying)|
|Best ranking finish||Runner-up (2009 Welsh Open)|
Joe Swail (born 29 August 1969) is a professional snooker player from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He has reached ten major ranking semi-finals, including the 2000 and 2001 World Championships but only one final. Swail is renowned for playing well at the Crucible Theatre, having reached the last 16 on four further occasions. He is also a former English amateur champion and N. Ireland amateur runner-up, and has captained Northern Ireland internationally. He was Irish champion in 2005.
Swail has had a very topsy-turvy history in the rankings. He took just two seasons to reach the Top 32, and three to reach the top sixteen, but only remained there for one season, before sliding out of the Top 32 after winning just two matches in 1997/1998. His 2000 Crucible achievement made him the second player (after Rex Williams) to return to the Top 16 in the rankings after dropping out of the Top 32 in between. He climbed to No. 10 after his 2001 semi-final, but dropped to 16–27–30–40 in the next few years, finishing with a nightmare season in 2004/2005. He then bounced back with an impressive and consistent showing in 2005/2006 that brought him back into the Top 32. He came close to the Top 16 in 2006/2007, finishing one place short at 17 despite beating Mark Williams in round 1 of the 2007 World Championships from 0–4 down He came from 7–9 behind to beat Judd Trump 10–9 in qualifying for the 2008 World Championship. Swail scored a comprehensive 10–4 victory over Stephen Lee in the first round at the Crucible, before a 12–13 defeat by Liang Wenbo in the second round, after a trademark comeback from 8–12 down, due to a bad miss on the brown in the decider. This caused him to again miss the top 16, finishing the season in 20th place.
He started 2008/2009 poorly, with four successive first-round defeats. His first victory of the season was against Liang Wenbo in qualifying for the 2008 UK Snooker Championship. He then reached his first ever ranking final in his 18-year professional career at the 2009 Welsh Open. Swail led the match 5–2, but never won another frame, losing 9–5 to Ali Carter.
After finishing 69th the end of the 2011/2012 season, outside of the top 64 that retain their professional status, Swail dropped of the tour after 21 years as a professional.
As an amateur, Swail played in many of the Players Tour Championship events. At the Paul Hunter Classic, Swail defeated players such as Jimmy White, Shaun Murphy and Barry Hawkins en route to the final, doubling the black ball in a final frame decider against Hawkins. In the final, he was defeated 1–4 by Mark Selby. This not only booked his place on the tour for the following season, but also qualified him for the PTC Finals in Galway, Ireland, where he defeated Stephen Maguire 4–3, despite being 0–3 down. He lost 0–4 in the Last 16 to fellow Northern Irishman Mark Allen. At the 2013 World Snooker Championship, Swail entered the Pre-Qualifying rounds for amateur players, he won 3 of these matches, as well as his Last 96 and Last 80 matches against Pankaj Advani, and Adam Duffy respectively. He lost his Last 64 match against Mark Joyce 7–10, picking up £4,600 for his efforts.
After regaining his professional status due to his performances in the previous season's PTC events, Swail was able to play in ranking events during the season. He lost in the Last 96 of the Wuxi Classic, 2–5 to Ken Doherty, in the qualifiers for the Australian Open, he beat Darren Cook 5–2, before losing 4–5 in the Last 96 to Pankaj Advani.
Swail is known for his very unorthodox way of cueing up. Instead of keeping his cue-arm vertical as most players do, Swail cues up with his arm bent at least 45 degrees outwards, and his elbow towards his back. Although it appears to be extremely difficult to actually pot balls when cueing like that it has worked for Swail and provides him with an abundance of cue power.
Swail is congenitally hearing-impaired, and his brother Liam is completely deaf. He has told BBC that he regards this as an advantage for snooker, as he is less likely to be distracted by crowd and other background noise. The two-table nature of the Crucible Theatre, in which cheering from the other table can often occur as a player takes a shot, may be one reason his World Championship record is especially strong.
Ranking event finals: 1 (1 runner-up)
|World Championship (0–0)|
|UK Championship (0–0)|
|Outcome||No.||Year||Championship||Opponent in the final||Score|
|Runner-up||1.||2009||Welsh Open||Carter, AliAli Carter||5–9|
Minor-ranking event finals: 2 (1 title, 1 runner-up)
|Outcome||No.||Year||Championship||Opponent in the final||Score|
|Winner||1.||1992||Strachan Challenge, leg 1||Mazrocis, StefanStefan Mazrocis||9–4|
|Runner-up||1.||2012||Paul Hunter Classic||Selby, MarkMark Selby||1–4|
Non-ranking wins (5 Titles)
- Kent Cup – 1991,
- Irish Professional Championship – 1992, 2005
- Irish Classic – 2009
- UK Tour, Event 2 – 1998
- British Under-19 Championship – 1988
- English Amateur Championship – 1990
Notes and references
- "Career-total Statistics for Joe Swail – Professional". CueTracker Snooker Results & Statistics Database. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
- "1999 China Open – Centuries". CueTracker Snooker Results & Statistics Database. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
- "Centuries". Pro Snooker Blog. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
- "Profile on Sporting Life". Sporting Life. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
- Profile on Global Snooker Centre
- "World Snooker Championship 2007 – Day 4". The Tablet. 2007. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
- "Donaldson applauds Northern Ireland Snooker Players". uuptoday.org. 2007. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
- The Strachan Challenge which Swail won in 1993 only carried a fraction of the points of a regular ranking tournament so is often dismissed as a ranking tournament since most of the top pros did not compete in it.
- BBC Sport: Snooker – Swail makes semis after epic win
- "Profile on northernshow.biz". Northern Show Biz. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
- Swail entered the tournament as amateur, having been relegated from the main-tour the previous season, so he received no ranking points.
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