Will Ronnie O'Sullivan Ever Be Surpassed as one of the Greatest Snooker Players?

Will Ronnie O'Sullivan Ever Be Surpassed as one of the Greatest Snooker Players?

Ronnie O'Sullivan continues to entertain sports fans and despite recently crashing out of the 2018 Masters to eventual champion Mark Allen, he is still playing top-class snooker 25 years after first bursting onto the scene. 

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The Rocket is outspoken and doesn't shy away from controversy but there is little doubt about his ability and his habit of simply blowing away the opposition has seen him compete at the very top level for quarter of a century. Ronnie remains one of the sports greatest icons and he isn't showing any signs of slowing down just yet. Are we ever likely to see another player of his calibre take to the table?

For many years, Ronnie O'Sullivan was compared to Northern Irish maverick Alex Higgins and has admitted he was inspired by the Hurricane to first take up the sport. Higgins claimed two world titles (in 1972 and 1982) and was responsible for a noticeable increase in snooker's audience due to his unpredictability and rip-roaring style of play. Similarly to his idol, the Rocket is a crowd-pleaser and regularly makes headlines but he hasn't let that detract from his game which has remained remarkably consistent.

He has over 30 ranking titles and is a five-time world champion and although the likes of Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis produced similar statistics, they weren't able to remain at the top of their game over such a long period of time. He matched Hendry's all-time record haul of 18 ranking titles inRonnie O'Sullivan December 2017 and it's hard to imagine him stopping there.

Every once in while, O'Sullivan appears jaded and wearisome and has regularly suggested he is bored with the sport but despite this, he still managed to end 2017 in terrific style when wrapping up the UK Championship and the Shanghai Masters. He has suggested he could be tempted to skip the 2018 World Championships as he is likely to be filming a TV show, although this appears to be a reactionary statement and very few would be surprised to see him do a U-turn and take his place at the Crucible later this year. He has already been installed as 7/2 favourite in the Snooker Betting Odds for the tournament ahead of Mark Selby and Judd Trump.

He has rarely hinted at retirement from the sport, although he regularly takes a break in order to ensure he returns refreshed and ready for action. He holds the record for the most century breaks and the highest number of maximum 147s and it is a feat which is unlikely to ever be surpassed. Whilst the likes of Kyren Wilson and Yan Bingtao point to a bright future for the sport, they are showing few signs of ever rivalling O'Sullivan's outstanding record on the biggest stage.

Players such as Peter Ebdon, John Higgins and Steve Davis have all previously declared the Rocket "one of the greatest sportsmen of all time", with the latter even suggesting that he can continue to win numerous majors and ranking events in his mid-50s.

Snooker fans who have been lucky enough to grow up in the O'Sullivan era have been thoroughly spoilt and future generations are highly unlikely to witness such dynamism and power at the table. The Rocket has inspired many snooker players to pick up a cue and has already created an irrepressible legacy. His unofficial status as the games greatest competitor is unlikely to be surpassed anytime soon as the next generation show very few signs of toppling this creative genius.

Posted Jan 26, 2018
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