Until this year, Joe Perry appeared to be one of those players destined to spend every season either just inside the top 16 or just missing out on a place in the elite group.
In fact, he began the new season at a career best of 12th and is now 7th in the provisional standings.
His rapid rise up the rankings is mainly attributable to his run to the World Championship semi-finals last season.
At the Crucible, he won an excellent match against Graeme Dott, beat Stuart Bingham and then won a 13-12 thriller against Stephen Maguire.
Perry was 15-15 with Ali Carter before an ill-timed (when is there ever a good time?) mobile phone call in the audience.
I’m not saying he would have beaten Carter if not for this but there’s no doubt it affected his concentration.
Perry tonight makes his debut in the Partypoker.com Premier League in Basingstoke.
This is a very big deal for him. It’s a tournament he has always watched but never expected to be playing in.
He’s in it because he won the Championship League last season, the qualifying tournament for the Premier League.
This new event was key to Perry’s – and Carter’s – sudden upturn in form.
Players have justifiably complained in recent years that there haven’t been enough playing opportunities.
The Championship League provided tough match practice against top players. And it was well paid.
You can’t ask for more than that.
Now 34, Perry has long been a fine prospect.
He first broke through in big way by beating Steve Davis 10-9 in the first round of the World Championship.
In 2001, he reached the European Open final in Malta, beating Matthew Stevens, Jimmy White and Mark Williams en route.
Only a vintage Stephen Hendry performance denied him. The 9-2 defeat was comprehensive but at least his Malta run provided a huge boost of confidence.
At the 2004 World Championship he played very well to beat the then defending champion, Williams, on the way to reaching the quarter-finals.
Perry should have reached the 2004 UK Championship final but somehow lost 9-8 to David Gray having led 8-7 and by 45 with 43 on in frame 16.
A year later he was beaten in the semis again by Ding Junhui.
Perry’s beaten a number of top players but never Ronnie O’Sullivan, his opponent in the Premier League tonight.
But I get the feeling he’s going to enjoy himself whatever happens.
After years as a member of snooker’s supporting cast, Perry now finds himself playing a leading role.