We often talk about the two Ronnies in snooker but Marco Fu is another player with a huge gap between his best and his worst.
At his best he is a fine match player, as he proved in beating O’Sullivan to win the 2007 Grand Prix and at the 2006 World Championship, where he came within a frame of the final.
But he can also look badly out of sorts and unable to mount a serious challenge. Last season was a poor one save for winning the Championship League, which has got him into the partycasino.com Premier League, which starts tonight.
The man from Hong Kong faces O’Sullivan in his first match and won’t be overawed, having beaten him eight times in their 20 meetings.
O’Sullivan finds it hard to play him, possibly because Fu keeps in emotions entirely hidden whereas Ronnie wears his heart on his sleeve.
Fu’s playing style is also resolutely regimented. He plays to a nice, natural rhythm neither fast nor slow, but certainly slower than O’Sullivan. It’s easy to imagine Ronnie getting frustrated when Marco gets into the groove.
But Fu will likely have to play well to get anything out of the match because this is an event O’Sullivan relishes more than most.
I think Fu essentially has two problems. One is homesickness: he loves Hong Kong but does not spend as much time there as he would like.
The other is insecurities about his game resulting from extensive chopping and changing with his technique.
But when it all comes together he is a tough prospect and he’s also the same polite, dryly humorous guy he was when he first broke through by reaching the Grand Prix final in 1998 during his debut season.
Back then many thought he would become the first Asian world champion. The fact is, he still might, but his first priority should be to discover the consistency that has been strangely lacking from his career.
A high profile win over O’Sullivan tonight would certainly give Fu a large jolt of confidence.