Sport is a world of extremes. Defeat is the biggest calamity in the history of civilisation, victory the greatest achievement since the invention of the wheel.

There has been an extraordinary over reaction to Ronnie O’Sullivan’s progress towards a third world title, which he appears certain to land at the Crucible later today.

Let me say this from the start: Ronnie has played great snooker. Really good. In finishing off against Mark Williams and the second session against Stephen Hendry it was up there with the all time Crucible performances.

However, to compare him to Tiger Woods and Roger Federer is wrong. He has their talent but has not demonstrated their application or dedication to be a consistent winner.

The world title will be his third ranking event victory in three years. This is not the record of a dominant force.

Would Woods or Federer have played the kamikaze stuff O’Sullivan did at the China Open?

Rather, O’Sullivan is more a George Best or Paul Gascoigne: a genius whose flaws make him even more fascinating, even more attractive.

He can’t be placed above Stephen Hendry until he’s won more world titles. Yes, his maximum was superb but so was Ali Carter’s.

I’ve commentated on most of Ronnie’s matches this season and, in the main, he’s played like he did yesterday.

In other words, well enough to beat most players but, aside from a few occasions, not to the very high standards he sets himself.

This is his essential problem: he is striving for perfection and when he fails to find this it eats him up.

I don’t think he’ll derive much pleasure from winning the world title in this manner, which is a shame because he has given so many other people so much enjoyment.

Ronnie is the deserving champion this year but he hasn’t played any better than he did to win his other two worlds titles or any better than many of the other great champions have in previous years.

I hope he can enjoy his moment of victory but, alas, this can’t be guaranteed. It’s not the winning he likes so much as the fulfilment of snooker perfection.

Anything less won’t do, even if it is good enough to see off the best the game has to offer.


Anonymous said...

The facts do not lie. Two (maybe three) world titles is quite simply not enough.

He is the most talented player to pick up a snooker cue, but will not be conidered the best until he beats Hendrys record of 7 World Championships. In the end of the day it is this tournament alone that counts when we are rememberign the true greats of the game.

Ronnie will be delighted to be remembered as an entertainer, as a loose cannon, as someone who wowed audiences and opponents alike. He wouldn't swap this for more world titles, but such is his talent, he should be doing both!

Anonymous said...

He might not - or indeed probably won't - win as many titles as Hendry, but O'Sullivan can still claim to be the most dominant player of this decade, and when you consider that he has beaten the likes of Hendry, Williams, Higgins, Hunter and even the likes of Maguire and Murphy, who have tasted success only recently, to do so, that is still some achievement.

Even when Hendry and Davis were dominating, there were only three or four who could beat them at their respective peaks. Regardless of whether O'Sullivan is reaching his exceptionally high standards, there is still excellent strength in depth in the sport.

As for his own personal issues, only Ronnie can truly answer that. I don't think he does himself any favours by continually hinting at retirement, like he did in the post-match interview with Ray Stubbs this evening, but that's what you get with Ronnie - he says what he thinks.

Sam T

Anonymous said...

If he wants to retire and commit proper time to his family good luck to him. His play this two weeks has been patchy and other than against Hendry he has been fortunate not to hit a player in peak form. He deserves to be number one and world champion but partly because the competition failed to test him as fully as they have the ability to.
Hopefully next season will see Hendry Williams and Higgins put the work in and show what they are still capable of.
John H

Anonymous said...

What a way to ram the trash down the press' throats.

Well done Ronnie.

Now you deserve a break!

Anonymous said...

Fair point anon. Snooker is improving year on year, especially the depth of quality in the game. This will become even more acute in the near future with the globalistaion of the game.

This does make it more difficult for Ronnie to 'dominate' in the way Hendry or Davis did in the 90s and 80s respectfully.

Still, talent-wise, he is head and shoulders above the rest of the world. That is why he is compared to Woods and Federer. He SHOULD dominate...