Ronnie will start his bid for a 7th World title on Saturday. I’m not holding my breath over it though. He’s been playing well in recent events but nearly two weeks have past since his last competitive match. In David Gilbert, he faces a player who is probably the hardest qualifier he could have got. David Gilbert will start the match with two wins under his belt, Ronnie will be “match” cold. It won’t be easy.
About three weeks ago, Eurosport reflected on Ronnie’s records and him possibly adding to his tally:
ROCKET’S 30 YEARS AT CRUCIBLE – RONNIE O’SULLIVAN SET TO PASS ANOTHER STEPHEN HENDRY RECORD AT 46TH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Ronnie O’Sullivan holds almost all of the key records in snooker, but the six-time world champion can pass another landmark held by his great rival Stephen Hendry in Sheffield next month. O’Sullivan is one world title short of equalling Hendry’s seven from the 1990s, but needs two more victories to pass the Scottish icon as the Crucible’s most prolific match winner of the sport’s modern era.
Ronnie O’Sullivan is set to pass another Stephen Hendry landmark when the snooker GOAT competes at the World Championship for a record 30th straight year next month (April 16-May 2, LIVE on Eurosport).
O’Sullivan needs to reach the quarter-finals at the Crucible Theatre to overtake Hendry as the Sheffield venue’s most prolific match winner of all time since the inception of the modern televised era in 1977.
Hendry won 70 matches from 90 played at the Crucible between 1986 and 2012 when he appeared 27 times and lifted the trophy on seven occasions in 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1999.
O’Sullivan stands on 69 wins from 92 matches played between 1993 and 2021. The World No. 2 has appeared at the Crucible 29 times and has carried off the trophy over three decades in 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2020.
In an example of remarkable sporting longevity since turning professional in 1992, O’Sullivan will equal the all-time appearance record at the Crucible held by Steve Davis between 1979 and 2010, a farewell year when his fellow Essex professional enjoyed a rousing renaissance run to the quarter-finals.
Davis lifted the world title in 1981, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988 and 1989 as the decade’s dominant force. He played a total of 84 matches at the Crucible over five decades, winning 60 matches from 30 appearances.
ohn Higgins made his Crucible debut in 1995 and has won 60 times from 83 matches over the past 27 years carrying off the trophy in 1998, 2007, 2009 and 2011.
Unlike Davis who failed to qualify for the tournament proper in 2001 and 2002, O’Sullivan has never missed a Crucible appearance after losing 10-7 to Alan McManus on his debut at the age of 17 in the first round in 1993, his first season on the professional circuit.
Since Hendry retired in 2012 before returning last year on a wildcard, O’Sullivan has claimed most of the key records on the green baize ahead of his bid to join the Scot as a seven-time world champion at the 46th Crucible event, the sport’s most coveted tournament.
O’SULLIVAN V HENDRY: HOW KEY RECORDS COMPARE
- Ranking title wins: 38-36
- World titles 6-7
- UK titles: 7-5
- Masters titles: 7-6
- Crucible match wins: 69-70
- Crucible win percentage: 75-77.78%
- Career win percentage: 74.74%-68.54%
- Crucible centuries: 184-156
- Career centuries: 1144-776
- Crucible 147s: 3-3
- Career 147s: 15-11
- Years as World No. 1: 6-9
- Age winning first ranking title: 17 (1993 UK Championship) – 18 (1987 Grand Prix)
- Age winning first world title: 25 (2001 World Championship) – 21 (1990 World Championship)
- Age winning last ranking title: 46 (2021 World Grand Prix) – 36 (2005 Malta Cup)
It’s worth noting though that it’s hard to compare the “years as number one stats” as, in the past the ranking was set at the start of the season, for the whole season but now it changes after every ranking event.
And although most pundits see him as the best player of all times, Ronnie himself doesn’t share those views:
EXCLUSIVE -‘I DON’T REGARD MYSELF AS GREATEST EVER’ – RONNIE O’SULLIVAN WANTS ‘OTHERS TO DECIDE’ SNOOKER KING
“I do not regard myself as the greatest ever,” said snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan in an extended interview with Eurosport ahead of the World Championship at the Crucible. “I think Stephen Hendry had a really good answer: as long as my name is in the conversation, you have to let other people decide that. All I have done is try to win and compete and play the way I want to play.”
Ronnie O’Sullivan has said he does not regard himself as the greatest player of all time as he believes it is up to others to decide in the snooker GOAT debate.
The Rocket will arrive in Sheffield ahead of the World Championship as the world No. 1 after he usurped reigning world champion, Mark Selby, following the Tour Championship in Llandudno, Wales.
It is the fifth occasion in O’Sullivan’s illustrious career that he has occupied the world No. 1 ranking, and the first time since 2019, as he goes to the Crucible looking for a record-equalling seventh world title.
But regardless of whether he goes on to draw level with Stephen Hendry’s record of World Championship crowns in a few weeks’ time, the 46-year-old would not like to judge for himself who is the greatest player the sport has seen.
“Snooker is not all I do now; it is part of what I do,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport in a wide-ranging interview ahead of the World Championship.
“I think if I was coming through snooker now – even in my prime – I still would not like to go through the grind of the tour.
“So I just take what I can from it: I take the good bits and try to leave the not-so-good bits out. I just like to keep the rustiness off and allow the snooker gods to maybe give me a tournament now and again these days. Whereas before, I would win quite a lot [of the tournaments] that I played in. In the last two years, I have not won so much, so maybe there is a sign there that I am not the player I was, even though I still feel like I play okay.
“Age catches up with you at some point, but I still enjoy and relish the challenge. I still enjoy getting my cue out. I still enjoy the lifestyle, and I make it work for me. I’ve had a great career and enjoyed it; it has been fantastic for me, so it is nice to have a plan and to see it through.
“I do not regard myself as the greatest ever. I think Stephen Hendry had a really good answer: as long as my name is in the conversation, you have to let other people decide that. All I have done is try to win and compete and play the way I want to play.
“I have played a brand of snooker that is very difficult to play as an individual sportsman,” he added. “To play the way I play, it is not easy. Sometimes it is easier to win if you are more of a defensive, negative, counter-puncher sort of player.
“I come out and I probably attack the balls more, which leaves you open to being picked off a little bit more. I just enjoy playing.
“Jimmy White played that brand and maybe it cost him winning the World Championship. I was able to stay true to that style of snooker and still win it six times. It is not easy.
“I was never big into records, but if people want to start talking about, ‘is he a great, is he this…’ I suppose you have to look at the record books and as far as World Championships, yes I am one behind Stephen Hendry. Not a bad place to be. I managed to do better in the other two majors and lots of other yardsticks if you want to throw them in as well.
“Like I say, it is not really for me to decide, it is for other people. All I can do is go out and try to do my best. I have tried to win every tournament; I have also tried to win the important tournaments. In the back of your head, you want to win the three majors – the Masters, the UK and the worlds – and I have managed to win a fair amount of them as well.”
Looking ahead to the World Championship, O’Sullivan said it becomes harder and harder to succeed “because you carry that tag on your back” after having achieved so much success in the sport with other players desperate to claim a famous upset win.
“I think it is harder for me because obviously my past, my history in the game makes every match feel like a final to a lot of people who play me. So I have that to deal with, I suppose. Whereas a lot of the other players can slip under the radar a bit.
“But I’ve embraced that and found that that is what happens, you know. You have to deal with that, so it is probably a bit harder for me now to win tournaments because you carry that tag on your back, if you like.”
The main draw of the World Championship gets underway on April 16 with the final taking place on May 2, 2022. It will be the 46th consecutive year the World Championship is held in Sheffield, United Kingdom, and it will be the 16th and final ranking event of the 2021–22 snooker season.
For me though, if he were to win a seventh World title, he would, for now at least, definitely become the greatest.