Tony Drago

Last updated

Tony Drago
Tony Drago PHC 2012-1.jpg
Born (1965-09-22) 22 September 1965 (age 55)
Valletta, Malta
Sport countryFlag of Malta.svg  Malta
  • The Tornado
  • Maltese Falcon [1]
  • The Boss
Professional1985–2008, 2009–2016
Highest ranking 10 (1998/99)
Career winningsSnooker: £1,127,868
Pool: 132,562.98
Highest break 147 :
2002 B&H Championship [2]
Century breaks 132
Best ranking finishRunner-up(1997 International Open)
Tournament wins
Minor-ranking 1

Tony Drago (born 22 September 1965) is a Maltese former professional snooker and pool player.


Known for his speed around the table, during his snooker career he won two professional titles: the 1993 Strachan Challenge Event 3 and the 1996 Guangzhou Masters. He later switched his focus to pool and won the 2003 World Pool Masters Tournament beating Hsia Hui-kai 8–6 and the 2008 Predator International 10-ball Championship beating Vince Upton 13–10.

Snooker career

Drago playing during the Swiss Open in 2005 Tony drago.jpg
Drago playing during the Swiss Open in 2005

Drago's highest snooker world rankings position was number ten (in 1998). He has reached two major finals – the 1991 World Masters (losing to Jimmy White), and the 1997 International Open (beaten by Stephen Hendry—Drago's only ranking event final, and his first run past the quarter-finals of any ranking event). [3] He reached the quarter-finals of the World Championship in 1988. He has appeared in the tournament 11 further times, most recently in 2004/2005, with five further last-sixteen runs. He lost to Matthew Stevens in three successive years – 8–13 in the last 16 in 1999, 2–10 in the 2000 first round, and 1–10 in the 2001 first round.

After he failed to qualify for the 2004 World Championship, Drago's snooker form slumped badly. He dropped out of the top 32 of the rankings a year later, and, after losing to Issara Kachaiwong in his opening qualifier for the 2008 World Championship, he dropped off the tour. [4]

In 2009, Drago won the EBSA International Open, which gave him the chance to return for the 2009–10 season. He reached the third qualifying round of the Shanghai Masters, Grand Prix, and 2009 UK Championship. He then qualified for the Welsh Open, by defeating Simon Bedford (5–3), Peter Lines (5–2), Jimmy Michie (5–2), and Gerard Greene (5–2), where he played against Ryan Day in the first round, but he lost 4–5. In the China Open qualifying, Drago defeated Lee Page (5–2), John Parrott (5–2), Anthony Hamilton (5–4), and Stephen Lee (5–2), to qualify for the televised stages of the China Open. As a result of such a solid season, he got a place in the top 64 and finished 54th.

Drago playing at the 2012 Paul Hunter Classic Tony Drago PHC 2012-2.jpg
Drago playing at the 2012 Paul Hunter Classic

2010/2011 was again a good season for Drago, as he climbed 8 places to finish 46th in the rankings. However, the 2011/12 season was much worse, with only four qualifying wins to his name. His best results were reaching the last 32 of several of the PTC events. After unexpectedly losing 7–10 to amateur Justin Astley in the 2012 World Snooker Championship qualifiers, Drago finished the season ranked 65th, not making it into the top 64 guaranteeing their place for the next season; however, he was given a wildcard for the next season as a European nomination, along with young Luca Brecel. Drago could not qualify for any of the ranking events during the 2012–13 season. [5] He made headlines in his qualifying match against Alan McManus for the German Masters, when, upon being told he would be fined £250 for conceding the match early, he slapped himself in the face a number of times. [6] Drago finished the year ranked world number 82. [7]

His first match of the season was against Adam Duffy in the qualifying round for the 2013 Wuxi Classic; Drago lost the match 2–5. In the qualifying rounds for the 2013 Australian Goldfields Open, Drago defeated Christopher Keogan 5–2 and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 5–4, making a crucial 75 break in the deciding frame. In the third qualifying round, Drago was trailing Tian Pengfei 1–3, before winning four consecutive frames, including a 111 break, to win the match 5–3; however, he lost in the final qualifying round 3–5 to Ryan Day, despite leading 2–0 and 3–2.

Drago lost his place on the tour at the end of the 2015/16 season and he failed to qualify for the main tour in that season's Q School.

In 2020 Drago was once again selected for the Seniors World Championship. However, on the counsel of his personal doctor, he refused the offer due to the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing at the time.

Pool career

Drago's first major pool win was the 2003 World Pool Masters, which came just a few weeks after a run to the semi-finals of that year's World Pool Championship

Drago was member of the winning European team at the 2007 and 2008 Mosconi Cup. At 2007 in Las Vegas, Drago won all of his single matches which earned him the Most Valuable Player Award.

In 2008, Drago won the Predator International 10-ball Championship, beating Francisco Bustamante 13–10.


Drago is well known for the speed of his play, and holds a number of records resulting from this. In 1993 he recorded the fastest ever best-of-9-frames snooker victory by beating Sean Lanigan in just thirty-four minutes at the 2nd leg of the Strachan Challenge. [8] He also holds the record for the fastest best-of-17 match, beating Joe O'Boye 9–0 in 81 minutes at the 1990 UK Championship. [9] Conversely, he lost 4–13 against Ronnie O'Sullivan in the second round of the 1996 World Championship in just 167 minutes and 33 seconds, an all-time Crucible record and less than 9 minutes per frame. In the 1996 UK Championship he made a century break in just three minutes and thirty-one seconds against John Higgins. [8] In the third round of the Fidelity Unit Trusts International he won the fifth frame 62–0 in just 3 minutes. [10] In 1995, he made a break of 149 in practice against Nick Manning in a snooker club in West Norwood, London. Drago was left snookered after a foul and potted the brown as a free ball and again as the colour, before potting the fifteen reds with thirteen blacks, a pink and a blue, and all the colours. [11]

Playing style

His combination of exceptionally fast play and emotional temperament has made him a popular character in snooker, although he was famously criticised by Steve Davis for hurling his cue at the table and storming out of the arena following his 1–5 quarterfinal defeat to Mark Bennett in the 1996 Grand Prix, with Drago later accusing his opponent of bad sportsmanship, because the latter had twice in the match suggested that Drago missed the object ball deliberately while snookered. Similarly, he became visibly angry with Peter Ebdon during their second round match in the 2003 World Championship, in which Ebdon repeatedly left the arena between frames. Drago took this as an attempt to disrupt the flow of his game, but apologised publicly when he later found out that Ebdon had been ill during the match.

Drago is known for his consistently high-speed play. His style has earned him the nickname "the Tornado". [12]

Performance and rankings timeline

Tournament 1984/
Ranking [13] [nb 1] [nb 2] [nb 3] 37 32 20 30 30 22 24 20 16 14 15 11 10 20 26 29 28 24 22 36 51 68 [nb 2] [nb 3] 54 46 [nb 4] 81 [nb 5] 81
Ranking tournaments
Australian Goldfields Open [nb 6] Non-Ranking EventNH 1R Tournament Not HeldNon-Rank.Tournament Not HeldLQLQLQAA
Shanghai Masters Tournament Not Held 1R ALQLQLQLQLQLQLQ
International Championship Tournament Not HeldLQLQAA
UK Championship A 2R QF 1R 1R 2R 2R QF 2R 3R 2R 2R 3R 2R 1R 2R 2R 3R 2R 2R 1R LQLQLQALQLQLQLQ 1R 2R 1R
German Masters [nb 7] Tournament Not Held 2R 2R QF NRTournament Not HeldLQLQLQLQLQLQ
Welsh Open Tournament Not Held 1R 3R 2R 2R 2R 3R 1R 1R 2R LQ 1R 2R 1R 1R LQLQLQALQLQLQLQ 1R 1R 1R
World Grand Prix Tournament Not HeldNRDNQ
Players Championship Finals [nb 8] Tournament Not HeldDNQDNQDNQDNQDNQDNQ
China Open [nb 9] Tournament Not HeldNR 1R LQLQ 1R Not HeldLQLQLQLQA 1R LQLQLQWDAA
Non-ranking tournaments
World Seniors Championship Tournament Not HeldATournament Not HeldLQ 1R 1R 1R LQ 1R
Shoot-Out Tournament Not Held 2R Tournament Not Held 2R 2R AAAA
Former ranking tournaments
Canadian Masters Non-Ranking EventLQTournament Not Held
Classic ALQLQ 2R 2R 3R QF 1R Tournament Not Held
Strachan Open Tournament Not Held 2R Tournament Not Held
Dubai Classic [nb 10] Tournament Not HeldNR 3R 2R 1R 1R LQ 2R 2R QF Tournament Not Held
Malta Grand Prix Tournament Not HeldNon-Ranking EventLQNRTournament Not Held
Thailand Masters [nb 11] Non-Ranking EventNot Held 3R 2R 3R 1R QF QF 1R 1R 2R 1R LQLQ 1R NRNot HeldNRTournament Not Held
Scottish Open [nb 12] ALQ 2R 1R 2R 2R Not Held 1R 3R 2R 3R F 1R 2R 1R 1R 2R 1R 1R Tournament Not HeldMRNot Held
British Open A 1R 1R 1R 2R 2R 3R 3R QF QF 1R 1R QF 2R 1R 1R 2R 1R 2R 3R 1R Tournament Not Held
Irish Masters Non-Ranking EventLQ 1R 1R NHNRTournament Not Held
Malta Cup [nb 13] Tournament Not Held 1R 1R 1R 1R 3R 2R 2R QF 2R NH SF Not HeldLQ 1R SF LQLQLQNRTournament Not Held
Northern Ireland Trophy Tournament Not HeldNR 1R LQATournament Not Held
World Open [nb 14] A 3R 2R 3R 2R 1R 2R 1R 1R 1R 2R 2R QF 3R 1R 3R 2R 1R 2R 1R 2R 1R LQLQALQLQLQLQLQNot Held
Wuxi Classic [nb 15] Tournament Not HeldNon-Ranking EventLQLQ 1R NH
Former non-ranking tournaments
Costa Del Sol Classic LQTournament Not Held
Kent Cup Not HeldA QF NHAANHATournament Not Held
London Masters Tournament Not Held QF AATournament Not Held
Pontins Professional AA QF SF F QF AAAAAAAAAATournament Not Held
World Masters Tournament Not Held F Tournament Not Held
European Masters League Tournament Not Held RR Tournament Not Held
European Challenge Tournament Not Held SF A F Tournament Not Held
Tenball Tournament Not Held SF Tournament Not Held
Guangzhou Masters Tournament Not Held W Tournament Not Held
Malta Masters Tournament Not Held 1R Tournament Not Held
Charity Challenge Tournament Not Held 1R 1R A 1R AAAATournament Not Held
Irish Masters AAAAAAAAAAAAA 1R AAAARanking EventATournament Not Held
German Masters [nb 7] Tournament Not HeldRanking SF Tournament Not HeldRanking Event
Malta Grand Prix Tournament Not Held F QF F SF QF R RR Tournament Not Held
Scottish Masters AAAAAAAAAAAALQLQAALQLQTournament Not Held
Malta Cup [nb 13] Tournament Not HeldRanking EventNHRNot HeldRanking Event RR Tournament Not Held
Legends of Snooker Tournament Not Held QF Tournament Not Held
Performance Table Legend
LQlost in the qualifying draw#Rlost in the early rounds of the tournament
(WR = Wildcard round, RR = Round robin)
QFlost in the quarter-finals
SFlost in the semi-finalsFlost in the finalWwon the tournament
DNQdid not qualify for the tournamentAdid not participate in the tournamentWDwithdrew from the tournament
NH / Not Heldmeans an event was not held.
NR / Non-Ranking Eventmeans an event is/was no longer a ranking event.
R / Ranking Eventmeans an event is/was a ranking event.
RV / Ranking & Variant Format Eventmeans an event is/was a ranking & variant format event.
MR / Minor-Ranking Eventmeans an event is/was a minor-ranking event.
PA / Pro-am Eventmeans an event is/was a pro-am event.
VF / Variant Format Eventmeans an event is/was a variant format event.
  1. From the 2010/2011 season it shows the ranking at the beginning of the season.
  2. 1 2 He was an amateur.
  3. 1 2 New players on the Main Tour do not have a ranking.
  4. Players qualified through European nomination started the season without ranking points.
  5. Players qualified through European Tour Order of Merit started the season without prize money ranking points.
  6. The event previously ran under different names as the Australian Open (1994/1995) and Australian Masters (1995/1996)
  7. 1 2 The event run under different name as German Open (1995/1996–1997/1998)
  8. The event run under different name as Players Tour Championship Grand Finals (2010/2011–2012/2013) and Players Championship Grand Final (2013/2014–2015/2016)
  9. The event run under different name as China International (1997/1998–1998/1999)
  10. The event run under different names as Dubai Masters (1988/1989), Thailand Classic (1995/1996) and Asian Classic (1996/1997)
  11. The event ran under different names such as Asian Open (1989/1990 to 1992/1993) and Thailand Open (1993/1994 to 1996/1997).
  12. The event previously ran under different names as the Goya Matchroom Trophy (1985/1986), International Open (1986/1987 to 1996/1997) and Players Championship (2003/2004).
  13. 1 2 The event previously ran under different names as the European Open (1989/1990–1996/1997 & 2001/2002–2003/2004) and the Irish Open (1998/1999)
  14. The event previously ran under different names as the Grand Prix (1985/1986–2000/2001 and 2004/2005–2009/2010), LG Cup (2001/2002–2003/2004), the World Open (2010/2011) and the Haikou World Open (2011/2012–2013/2014)
  15. The event previously ran under a different name as the Jiangsu Classic (2008/2009–2009/2010)

Career finals

Ranking finals: 1 (1 runner-up)

OutcomeNo.YearChampionshipOpponent in the finalScore
Runner-up1. 1997 International Open Flag of Scotland.svg Stephen Hendry 1–9

Minor-ranking finals: 1 (1 title)

OutcomeNo.YearChampionshipOpponent in the finalScore
Winner1. 1993 Strachan Challenge – Event 3 Flag of Ireland.svg Ken Doherty 9–7

Non-ranking finals: 8 (1 title, 7 runners-up)

OutcomeNo.YearChampionshipOpponent in the finalScore
Runner-up1. 1989 Pontins Professional Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Darren Morgan 2–9
Runner-up2. 1991 World Masters Flag of England.svg Jimmy White 6–10
Runner-up3. 1993 European Challenge Flag of Scotland.svg Stephen Hendry 3–5
Runner-up4. 1994 Malta Grand Prix Flag of England.svg John Parrott 6–7
Runner-up5.1995WPBSA Minor Tour – Event 5 Flag of England.svg David Roe 3–6
Winner1. 1996 Guangzhou Masters Flag of England.svg Steve Davis 6–2
Runner-up6. 1996 Malta Grand Prix (2) Flag of England.svg Nigel Bond 3–7
Runner-up7. 1997 Scottish Masters Qualifying Event Flag of Scotland.svg Alan McManus 2–5

Team finals: 1 (1 runner-up)

OutcomeNo.YearChampionshipTeam/partnerOpponent(s) in the finalScore
Runner-up1. 1989 World Cup Rest of the World Flag of England.svg  England 8–9

Pro-am finals: 6 (3 titles, 3 runners-up)

OutcomeNo.YearChampionshipOpponent in the finalScore
Runner-up1.20113 Kings Open Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Dominic Dale 1–5
Winner1.20123 Kings Open Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Bjorn Haneveer 5–3
Runner-up2.20133 Kings Open (2) Flag of England.svg Stephen Lee 4–5
Runner-up2.20143 Kings Open (3) Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Luca Brecel 4–5
Winner2.20153 Kings Open (2) Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Luca Brecel 5–4
Winner3.20163 Kings Open (3) Flag of Malta.svg Brian Cini5–1

Amateur finals: 3 (2 titles, 1 runner-up)

OutcomeNo.YearChampionshipOpponent in the finalScore
Winner1.1984Malta Amateur Championship Flag of Malta.svg Alf Micallef7–3
Runner-up1.1985Malta Amateur Championship Flag of Malta.svg Paul Mifsud 1–7
Winner2.2009EBSA International Open Flag of the Netherlands.svg Roy Stolk 5–4

Pool tournament wins

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