We’re days away from the return of the World Snooker Championship, and what better way to get you in the mood for two weeks of scintillating Crucible action than with a look back at five of the best moments from Ronnie O’Sullivan in Sheffield?
Only six players have won more world championship titles than the Rocket in 90 years, and he heads into this year’s tournament as the 5/1 second favourite.
He’ll likely prove the most popular bet with punters over the coming weeks, and it’s worth noting that since winning his first title back in 2001, he’s never gone longer than three years without finding his name on the trophy.
His last success in Sheffield came three years ago. A sign that the title will be his this time out? Maybe.
Our journey begins almost 20 years ago to the day…
23 April, 1997 – Why they call him the Rocket
Maximum breaks were hardly uncommon, so how could O’Sullivan put his own spin on an age old snooker masterclass?
The answer was simple… he was going to do it the Ronnie way.
This was his first ever professional 147, and it came against the then-40-year-old Mick Price, from Nuneaton. It may not be for reasons Price would have liked, but he’ll likely remain in the history books for a long, long time.
That’s because the Rocket achieved the incredible feat in record time. Five minutes and 20 seconds to be exact, averaging a pot every 8.8 seconds.
Still yet to be beaten, this is where Ronnie really announced himself.
6 & 7 May, 2001 – Ronnie’s first Crucible triumph
After reaching three semi-finals in the five years prior to this tournament, it’s fair to say a first Crucible success was to be expected in 2001.
O’Sullivan breezed through the opening four rounds, recording 53 frames and conceding just 25 combined.
That set him up for a meeting with John Higgins in the final – a repeat of the 1998 semi.
This time around Ronnie wasn’t standing any messing and stormed into a 6-2 lead after a series of high-scoring breaks. And in truth, the Scot never really got close to him.
Finally, he managed to break his duck.
5 & 6 May, 2013 – Rewriting the history books
Not only did Ronnie become the first player since Stephen Hendry in 1996 to retain the title, he smashed plenty of records en route to his most recent Sheffield success.
Having blitzed through the first four rounds of the tournament without going behind in a game, O’Sullivan headed into the final against Barry Hawkins knowing he was well on course to break another record of Hendry’s.
A break of 103 against Hawkins was O’Sullivan’s 128th century break at the Crucible, beating the Golden Boy’s tally of 127.
It doesn’t end there though. He took that tally to 131 by the time the tournament was over, in turn become the only player ever to have recorded six century breaks in a World Championship final.
If the Rocket can rediscover this kind of form, that 5/1 on him winning this year’s title could become an absolute steal.
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