Walker showed evidence of his talent with a brilliant run to the quarter-finals of the 2014 Welsh Open. He won four matches in Newport, including a superb win over Stephen Maguire, to set up a clash with Ding Junhui.
And Walker looked set for the semis when he led 4-2, only for Ding to fight back to win 5-4. “I felt confident all the way through, I just wanted one good chance,” he said. “I’m disappointed to lose, it would have been nice to go one more round.”
Walker earned a place on snooker’s main tour for the first time by coming through Q School in 2012. He beat Justin Astley 4-0 in the last round of the third and final event.
In 2010, Walker won the Rileys Future Stars competition, a nationwide search for the best junior player. His prize was £5,000 plus a series of training sessions with Ronnie O’Sullivan, who said: “Joel just seemed to have the maturity, the technique and the right sort of attitude. He’s got all the right qualities to be a top player, it’s just all about enjoying it and spending hours and hours on the table. One day he could be a World Champion.”
Walker was relegated from the pro tour at the end of the 2015/16 season.