Ronnie O’Sullivan is unquestionably the most famous snooker player on the planet. The Rocket has featured among the most successful British sportspeople of the last 20 years, boasting a trophy cabinet unrivalled in the sport.
His standing in the world game over the course of his career has been without doubt. Comparing O’Sullivan to the greats of decades past is an altogether different question.
Like matching Lionel Messi with Diego Maradona or LeBron James with Oscar Robertson, comparisons over different eras are nigh on impossible. O’Sullivan, though, is thought of by many as the greatest to play the game. Here are five reasons why…
Pure Entertainment Value
There are few, if any, bigger characters in sport than The Rocket. O’Sullivan is an entertainer whether he’s at the table, being interviewed or messing around in front of the camera.
He doesn’t take himself too seriously, and it has earned him several positions in the media, including with Eurosport.
O’Sullivan has his own show – called, imaginatively, ‘The Ronnie O’Sullivan Show’ – and will often be a pundit in events he isn’t taking part in alongside fellow snooker star Jimmy White.
While he is ultra critical of himself and an extreme perfectionist, O’Sullivan still brings a sense of fun to the table. The blend of his astonishing raw talent with his unpredictable nature makes him one of sport’s true entertainers.
As a right-hander, O’Sullivan is commonly labelled a genius. Often considered the most gifted player in the sport’s history, his ability with one hand is unmatched.
Then, let’s add to that the ridiculous fact that O’Sullivan is just as exceptional with his left. Certain shots require him to switch hands, and he’ll use his ambidextrousness in a practical way. Sometimes, he’ll switch hands just because he can.
There are instances when The Rocket has made century breaks left-handed in competitive matches. That is just absurd, isn’t it?
It’s one thing being the best in the world with one hand, but who knows how good O’Sullivan would be if he was forced to play as a lefty.
Endless List Of Records
Snooker’s Triple Crown is made up of the World Championships, Masters and UK Championships. O’Sullivan has won 19 of those events, which is more than any other player in history, despite suffering a disappointing early exit at the 2019 World Snooker Championship.
Stephen Hendry shares the most ranking titles honour with O’Sullivan at 36, but that probably won’t last for long. No player has earned more than the £10 million that The Rocket has pocketed for his various successes.
He recently made it to 1,000 career century breaks (that’s 225 more than anyone else!), and got the fastest 147 ever back in 1997.
The list could go on. It’s impossible to talk about greatness without discussing what has been won – and O’Sullivan dominates snooker’s record books. Check out 888sport’s snooker news and betting tips to see if O’Sullivan can add to his tally.
Speed Of His Play
O’Sullivan has been critical of slow, tactical snooker. He believes long frames harm the sport and are no fun to watch. Some fans will disagree with that, of course, but there’s no doubting that O’Sullivan plays at a pace few others can match.
Always aggressive and looking to take on attacking shots, O’Sullivan at his best will race around the table, quickly calculating the next several shots before playing his current one.
It’s a whirlwind of deadeye potting and perfect positioning when he’s on top form, which makes him a superb break builder. Opponents rarely get back to the table if they give The Rocket an opening.
Simply put, snooker is better off for O’Sullivan’s involvement. His commitment to putting on a show has helped snooker’s standing in the United Kingdom and beyond.
Longevity At The Top
Last but not least, we’ve got to mention the staying power of O’Sullivan at the top of the game.
Despite flirting with leaving the sport in the past – and recently saying to Radio 4, "If I had my time over again, I definitely wouldn't choose snooker as a sport to pursue” - he remains the dominant force at the top of the sport.
O’Sullivan first become world number one in 2002, two seasons after his first world title. He is back at the top of the rankings right now, and is one of the favourites to win the World Championships in 2020 with many betting sites.
Accumulating all those trophies obviously takes time (and it helps that he turned professional at 16), but remaining as the best in the world for two decades is a remarkable feat in any sport.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*