Ronnie O’Sullivan’s capture of a remarkable tenth Premier League title tonight reconfirms him as the king of the shot-clock.

Ding Junhui didn’t enjoy much luck but he was also well below his best and O’Sullivan played confidently, his long potting particularly strong.

He has now won this title seven times in the last eight years. The 20 second shot-clock favours him because of his quick, instinctive snooker brain but this is not the whole story.

I think the League also appeals to O’Sullivan because of the nature of the format. This restless spirit gets easily bored and loathes hanging around in hotel rooms for days at a time during longer tournaments. Many other players feel the same but handle the boredom better.

The Premier League, by contrast, is a series of one night stands: pitch up, play, go home. O’Sullivan in fact went home after his semi-final win on Saturday evening before returning for the final.

Ronnie is 36 next week. He remains a fascinating figure, who seems to attract unquestioning love and vitriol in equal measure.

Both viewpoints are as hidebound as the other. The only way to assess someone’s personality and career is objectively.

In my objective opinion Ronnie is the most charismatic snooker player I’ve ever met, probably the best too in terms of sheer skill.

He is a complex man and I wouldn’t claim to understand him but I like him and I respect him for his ability, his achievements and his entertainment value.

I think sometimes commentators can be too gushing about him – doubtless I have been guilty of this – but he does play the game in a particularly attractive way, and there is more often than not the sense of a wider drama, that something, anything, may happen.

This heady mixture is what draws the crowds and the attention. Snooker would go on without him but would miss him badly.

What’s interesting, though, about the Premier League is that it doesn’t seem to have a bearing on any other event. It’s out on its own. O’Sullivan won the title last year but then lost in the first round of the UK Championship.

He needs to do better at York next week because his top 16 seeding for later in the season is not yet guaranteed.

There aren’t 16 better snooker players than Ronnie in my view but a combination of withdrawals and early round defeats have left him needing some solid performances to stave off an unthinkable relegation from the elite bracket.

His career has been one of peaks and troughs. There have been seasons when he’s been unstoppable and those where he has looked like he’d rather be anywhere other than on a snooker table, with results to match.

The good news for his many fans this season is that he has already won two PTCs from three finals, is consulting with Dr Steve Peters and seems focused.

Whatever he says, he can still play this game to a standard most can only dream of.

He will probably find the tenth PTC of the season, already underway in Sheffield, difficult to be totally motivated for (and won’t be alone in that) but it will be interesting to see what he does at the UK Championship.

And as everywhere else, all eyes will be on this authentic superstar of the green baize.


Anonymous said...

Need more of these events to balance them out and stop negative play being an advantage all the time.

Kjetil said...

Perhaps the PL doesn't seem to have any bearing, but regardless one thing is certain: Ronnie is back. Good results in the PTCs (particularily in belgium), got to the final in power snooker, won the PL final.. the signs are there; now he'll be favorite with the bookies AND you won't be a fool for respecting those odds.

147 said...

Nice piece Dave and well done to ronnie.

Anonymous said...

It's great to see Ronnie still wins the bullshit tournaments like the meaningless PTC's or Premier League. You know it's a proper tournament if Williams ,Higgins, Selby or Robertson are in contention.

Ayrshirebhoy said...

Will be interesting as always to see how he does in the uk champs. Must be a strong favourite.

Ayrshirebhoy said...

I reckon negative players will still be negative. They'll just do it with a stop clock.

Anonymous said...

well done on your win ronnie

still waiting on the tournamnet that has completely different rules set up so it benefits one player more than the rest

Anonymous said...

good blog dave!


is a generation in snooker a decade?

phil y in commentary said ronnie is the best player of his generation..

being only 6 years or so after hendry and also being about a year within j higgins wrt start of careers id have thought he was of the same generation

(well, in my book 6.5 years is closer to the same generation than it is to being another one.

maybe phil was gushing ;)

Anonymous said...

thought ding was very unlucky in the first 4 frames...and ronnie very lucky.

Anonymous said...

Its not a matter of Ronnie being back. He never went. Before his run to world and UK a few years back, he didnt win a ranker for nearly 2 years. Anyone who knows the game will know that Ronnie is a class above plodders like Williams and Selby. Hes still the best in the world. fact. 10 PL titles will never be equalled.

Anonymous said...

Dave why do you publish foul language on this blog,there a quite a lot of children who read the blog also!

Betty Logan said...

I think Phil was using the term "generation" in the sense of an "era". Clearly O'Sullivan and Hendry belong to the same generation, but have defined two distinct eras in the game.

Gerard said...

Dave, good point about him losing in the first round of the UK last year after winning the PL. But I think what's different this year is his attitude. Combined with his current form he might even win the title.

Anonymous said...

betsy, i suspect you are right

even though phil was wrong in saying generation

Betty Logan said...

I think he'll be up for this 1st round match in York against Davis; he seems to enjoy playing the legends, and second round points will more or less guarantee him his top 16 place.

Andre said...

yes i agree with you Gerald, this year his attitude is much better than last season. he has already won 2 ptc finals from the 3 he contested, won the premier league, and, above all, his form is very much back to his best, If he can possibly beat Trump(Judd will reach the last 16 surely) in the 2nd round of the Uk, I expect him to go on and win it, but he could face higgins in the quarters, whom he has a poor record in recent seasons. Still, I expect him to go far on this one, nad he must also, because he badly needs ranking points, but, when the question is asked, he often delivers.

kildare cueman said...

Dont think O'Sullivan is at his best. Still too many long pots missed and the odd easy one. He is struggling a bit to get over the line- something he never was.
Hes still playing a lot better than he has been recently though. His B game is enough to get him back in the top 4- if he tries.

Theres no reason to rubbish Davis' claim that Higgins is the best ever. Hes definitely in the mix but there are 3 others as well and its all down to individual judgement I think.

Hendry still shades it for me.