On Sunday night, in a World Championship qualifier against Ryan Day, Louis Heathcote produced one of the most astonishing shots in snooker history.
Snookered on the yellow, Heathcote found himself tight between the black and the bottom cushion. The best anyone could have hoped for in that situation was to hit the colour and hope the cue ball finished safe.
That in itself would be a difficult shot – the white was so tied up that Heathcote could not even use the side cushions to get the ball round the table. So he got creative.
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The 23-year-old knocked the white against the jaws of the corner pocket to produce the angle, sending the cue ball into the yellow which, incredibly, flew into the top right corner pocket.
It was a shot worthy of the biggest stage and the greatest shame is that it happened without fans in a third round qualifying match.
But did he mean it?
There’s no doubt Heathcote was looking to work the jaws of the pocket to create the angle. However, it's hard to believe any player on earth, not even the great Ronnie O’Sullivan, would fancy himself to pot the yellow from that position.
There was simply too much room for error in bouncing the cue ball off two side jaws, to hit a ball six feet away, into a pocket another six feet away. Just hitting the yellow would have been a brilliant shot in itself.
Of course, Heathcote will have known a pot was possible, but this is essentially a double-plant across 12 feet of baize. If Heathcote had enough confidence in his angles over that distance, we would wager he would never lose another game in his life. And funnily enough, he did lose this one.
Another clue is in the positioning of the white after the shot. Once the cue ball hit the yellow it rolled slowly up the table, and it’s more than likely Heathcote hoped that, with the pace that he hit the yellow, that the colour would bounce off the top cushion and roll down the table to safety.
That is the best he could have hoped for, yet somehow he ended up with more.
Finally, we can look at Heathcote’s reaction. Remarkably, he seems entirely unfazed by the fact he’s just pulled off one of the most extraordinary pots in snooker history.
Had Heathcote intentionally landed a table-long pot after ricocheting the white off both jaws of a pocket, we think he would be at least a little bit pleased with himself. Maybe just a fist pump?
Instead, it looked as though he gave opponent Day an apologetic look before casually moving on to the green.
Perhaps it was the absence of a delirious crowd, perhaps he was focused on wrapping up the frame, perhaps he does it all the time in practice?
But our guess is that, while this can still go down as one of the best shots snooker’s ever seen, Heathcote was as surprised as the rest of us.
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