Comment & Analysis @RazMirza
The Rocket will be seeking more glory in Sheffield when he opens against Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in front of a reduced crowd at the Crucible
Last Updated: 29/07/20 6:39pm
We take a look back at the career of Ronnie O’Sullivan as ‘The Rocket’ aims to join Steve Davis and Ray Reardon as a six-time World Champion at the Crucible.
He’s the most naturally gifted player of a generation and the fans’ favourite, so will the genius that is O’Sullivan add to his title haul at the iconic Crucible Theatre?
The 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2013 champion prepares to make his 28th consecutive World Championship appearance so we’re taking a look back at the highs and lows of the king of the green baize.
The Rocket in numbers
Became the youngest player to win a ranking event (17 years, 51 weeks) at the 1993 UK Championship.
1,000 Career centuries mark made at Players Championship in 2019.
28 – this will be O’Sullivan’s 28th appearance at the World Championship.
5 – World titles in 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2013.
7 – UK Championship titles, the first of which came 27 years ago in 1993. He has more than anyone else.
15 – Maximum breaks of 147.
3 – Crucible 147s from Ronnie O’Sullivan.
320 – Seconds to make the fastest maximum of all time, against Mick Price at the 1997 World Championship.
1 – Ronnie went back to world No 1 for the first time since 2010 last March.
44 – Age O’Sullivan turned on December 5.
After winning the UK Championship aged 17, Ronnie went to Gartree Prison in Leicestershire to show the trophy to his father Ronnie Snr, who was serving 18 years for murder.
A year after winning the British Open, the 19-year-old claimed the Masters title against fellow teenager John Higgins 9-3 in the final.
In 1995 O’Sullivan reached the last eight of the World Championship in Sheffield before losing to Stephen Hendry 13-8.
He was back to defend his Masters crown in 1996, but he lost to the indefatigable Hendry 10-5 at Wembley.
O’Sullivan reached the semi-final of the World Championship in 1996 before going out to Peter Ebdon 16-14.
However, he is found guilty of assaulting an official and is handed a two-year suspended sentence as well as a £20,000 fine.
Regarded as probably the greatest break in the sport’s history, in 1997, O’Sullivan compiled the fastest 147 on record in just five minutes 20 seconds during his World Championship win over Mick Price. None – even ‘The Rocket’ himself – have come close to eclipsing it.
The following year O’Sullivan beat his idol Jimmy White 13-7 at the Crucible before losing to John Higgins in the semi-finals.
The Essex cueman landed his first World Championship title – beating John Higgins 18-14 in 2001.
In December he destroyed Ken Doherty 10-1 to secure the UK Championship in York.
O’Sullivan edged out John Higgins in a thrilling Irish Masters final 10-9 at the Citywest Hotel in 2003.
And the following May he defeated Graeme Dott 18-8 to win his second World Championship at the Crucible.
Teenager Ding Junhui was left in tears as O’Sullivan won his first big tournament for 22 months at the 2007 Masters at Wembley Arena with a 10-3 battering.
In 2008 he celebrated a record-breaking ninth 147 maximum break against Mark Williams…
… before going on to capture his third Crucible crown by defeating Ali Carter 18-8 in the final.
After personal problems, Ronnie was back on the baize in 2012 where he beat Carter once again – this time securing an 18-11 win in Sheffield.
And after a year sabbatical from the sport, he returned to sensationally retain his title in 2013 with an 18-12 win over Barry Hawkins and celebrated with his son, Ronnie Jr.
Ronnie made a strong start to 2014, securing his fifth Masters title with a 10-4 victory over Mark Selby.
But O’Sullivan missed out on a sixth World crown in May, throwing away a five-frame lead in a 18-14 defeat against Mark Selby.
Despite breaking his ankle whilst running, ‘The Rocket’ still took part at the 2014 UK Championship…
…where he beat Judd Trump 10-9 in a thrilling final to claim his fifth UK Championship title to earn £150,000, to go with the £44,000 he pocketed for his 147 break against Matt Selt.
He sealed a record-equalling sixth Masters title at the Alexandra Palace in January 2016. After defeating Mark Williams, Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham, he won the tournament crown with a 10-1 demolition of Barry Hawkins which equalled Stephen Hendry’s record for the most Masters wins.
At the Welsh Open, after potting 14 reds and 13 blacks against Barry Pinches, O’Sullivan deliberately gave up his shot at a maximum break by drifting up for the pink instead. Afterwards he called the £10,000 on offer “too cheap” for a 147. Snooker chief Barry Hearn responded furiously, calling O’Sullivan’s display “unacceptable” and “disrespectful”.
The Paul Hunter trophy was back in his arms as O’Sullivan won the Masters for a record seventh time at Alexandra Palace in 2017, beating Joe Perry 10-7 in the final.
He then equalled Steve Davis’ record six UK Championships after putting on a sublime display to defeat Shaun Murphy 10-5 in the final. That also took him level with Stephen Hendry on 18 Triple Crown titles.
A year later and he made history at the UK Championship by defeating Mark Allen 10-6 to claim two significant records. O’Sullivan became the most successful player in the history of the UK Championship with seven titles and Triple Crown events with 19 victories.
In 2019 he made his 1000th century at the Players Championship. A milestone he reached in frame 14 which was the frame he needed to win the title as he defeated Neil Robertson. He returned to world No 1 for the first time since May 2010.
Ronnie is back in Sheffield and ready to begin his quest for a sixth Crucible crown. Will he do it at the age of 44? This would surely be his greatest achievement in the sport.
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