Love him or hate him – and plenty seem to do either – Ronnie O’Sullivan is snooker’s greatest gift.

He is the only player who can regularly command a full house and the only one outside of those associated with the ‘golden era’ of the 1980s who attracts the interest of the wider media.

At 34, O’Sullivan is approaching veteran status but it would take an extraordinary collapse in form to see him end the season much below where he is now.

Last season he won only one title, the Shanghai Masters. He was beaten by John Higgins in three other ranking events and by Mark Selby in the Masters final and World Championship quarter-finals. Shaun Murphy beat him in the Premier League final while the manner of his exit from the China Open was not exactly his finest hour.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad campaign but Ronnie is no longer world no.1, neither is he world champion.

His future fortunes may well depend on the extent to which he embraces the Barry Hearn revolution.

It was O’Sullivan who set the ball rolling at the 2009 Masters with his very public appeal for snooker to open itself up to entrepreneurship and shake some life into a sport may felt had gone stale.

O’Sullivan has a very good relationship with Hearn. He has said the promoter ‘was like a dad to me’ when he managed him as a teenager.

When Hearn called him a ‘miserable bastard’ he took it as it was meant: as a bit of banter between a couple of mates.

The new formats for the World Open and Sky Shootout are likely to excite Ronnie more than the run of the mill ranking events he’s been playing in for nearly two decades. They will be something different, a new experience, something he usually likes.

He has already played in one Players Tour Championship event – although he hasn’t entered the second one – and has a full calendar of tournaments to keep him going if he wants them.

But analysing O’Sullivan is not a job I or most others are qualified to do. He remains a complex soul: a mass of contradictions who tests the patience even of those who idolise him.

His search for perfection on the table is fruitless. He will never find it, at least not over a sustained period.

Snooker, to put it crudely, is a bloody hard game and even a player blessed with the mercurial talents of O’Sullivan can’t win everything, neither can they play brilliantly all the time.

It seems that Ronnie’s performances these days depend largely on who he is playing.

Two of his best displays last season came against Mark Williams, first at the Masters and then at the World Championship. Williams is a player he grew up with and one who he greatly respects.

In both events he then lost to Selby, whose reliance on defence as well as attack – a perfectly reasonable approach – seems to frustrate him greatly.

I think most players would still regard O’Sullivan as the best player on the circuit. He probably wouldn’t and therein lies the central paradox of his career.

Everyone can see how frighteningly good he is apart from Ronnie O’Sullivan himself.

Maybe he’s right and we’re all wrong. Or maybe he should stop chasing perfection and just be satisfied with being, at his best, the best.


Anonymous said...

'Not exactly his finest hour?'
I mean, don't stick your neck out Dave, but even most of his fans know he didn't give much effort to that game and esp. the last shot. He is a disgraceful 'sportsman' imo.

kildare cueman said...

Think you hit the nail on the head there Dave when you said "Ronnies performance these days depend on who he is playing".

Like 1970s TV, there are two Ronnies.

There is the Ronnie who sees snooker as work, and has to force himself to play, in order to earn money and ranking points, and there is the Ronnie who is inspired and makes the game look like a computer generated simulation, with perfect, all round shot choice and execution.

The latter Ronnie needs a combination of factors to converge before he appears.

These factors are, the occasion, the opponent, and to a lesser extent, the money.

The opponents appear to be the rest of the big four(Higgins,Williams,Hendry) from the turn of the millenium, the time that snooker was played at its highest level ever.

Ken Doherty is also a motivator for the rocket as he was the big gun in O'Sullivans backyard in the formative years of their careers.

Now Mark Selby is a fine player and there have been a few occasions when he could arguably have been considered to be the best player on the tour.

He has a solid balanced style and is a consistent scorer and defender, but like Dott and Ebdon, appears to have a bit of an Indian sign over the rocket.

In effect, he just doesn't like playing them. They bore him.

That is a flaw in O'Sullivans game and not a criticism of the grinders.

O'Sullivan lost a couple of times to Maguire when the scot was on the up and said, "Steven is the best player in the world right now".

He also labelled Ding a prodigy after looking it up in a dictionary, and losing a couple of matches to him.

What happened next?

He murdered both of them in finals, and hurt them in the process. Was he playing mind games with his young challengers? Was he transferring the pressure of expectation from himself to them.

Who knows, only the rocket himself.

His long potting has deteriorated in the last couple of seasons, as would be the norm for somebody of his age, although it doesn't seem to have affected Higgins to the same extent.

O'Sullivans safety and positional play are good enough to compete for many years, certainly longer than Hendry, who is more dependant on potting, but the question is, will O'Sullivan carry on playing sub standard snooker?

Would he be willing to turn up at a venue like Davis and get hammered and go home?

Who knows, maybe he will see a new challenge in keeping the youth at bay for a few years. I certainly hope so.

Anonymous said...


That post pretty much sums up my attitude to the man completely, as a human being half of me can't stand him and couldn't see how (until recently) he got away with giving so little to the game that made him what he is. However the other half of me finds him completely fascinating, even his boring "i'm retiring/i'm bored of snooker" interviews fascinate me.

On the other hand, as a snooker player he is in my opinion the best ever and his 2001 World title win got me in to snooker in the first place.

There's no way I'd ever go for a drink with him but there's no player I 'd rather watch.


Anonymous said...

Alpha I'm sure ROS is gutted you wouldn't want to go for a drink with him!!!!
And, the best player ever? Have you never heard of Stephen Hendry?

CHRISK5 said...

As a player,absolutely great (most of the time)

His debut title win at the 1993 UK Championship over Hendry was unforgettable - I was hugely excited at the time about this hot prospect.

As an overall tournament display -
His 2nd World Title in 2004 was as close to perfection as could be.

The 2005 QF Worlds loss to Ebdon
was his worst moment in snooker.

The forfeit against Hendry (of all people) at the 2006 UK was a cunning display of gamesmanship -
basically he didn't want to give his biggest rival the satisfaction of winning outright legitimately.

With a better temprement against the grinders (Ebdon,Dott,Selby) &
a more settled family life -
he might have won 30 ranking events & 5 World Titles by now.

He is chasing perfection - but will never find it - It has to come from within himself - not 'out there'.

That said,I think he will thrive in the new era of increased events & those with shorter formats.

When he wins - I wish he would enjoy it more - instead of moaning & groaning so much !

Anonymous said...


I'm sure O'Sullivan is. And I'm too young to remember Hendry at his peak (although i am trying to catch up)


snooker147blog said...

I think he'll get more and more frustrated, which won't be good for him and snooker.

Anonymous said...

I just love Ronnie! He`s so nice! his talent is without boundaries!

jamie brannon said...

What people don't seem to realise is that O'Sullivan has given more to this game, albeit inadvertently than any of these so called 'clean cut' ambassadors. If it wasn't for Ronnie a lot of tournaments would be selling even less tickets and column inches would be down too.

He, does test my patience when he concedes frames at 23-0, but I like his kind of existential attiude to life.

Selby's style is reasonable, but I don't understand why he has such a good fanbase, he is far too squeaky clean, gives dull interviews and plays a highly effective, but not the most entertaining brand of snooker.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Selby should punch an official and be rude to everybody...

Anonymous said...

well said 4:54, or he could bite him.....

and Jamie, welcome back the real you. the one that has his tongue YOU KNOW WHERE when it comes to ANYTHING ron does. shame on you!

the guy is a brilliant player, but hes the worst role model for a human being i can think of that is followed by so many so young.

Anonymous said...

Jamie - why do you ALWAYS have a go at The Jester? This topic is about ROS - your beloved ROS! Is it just because he has your beloved O'Sullivan's measure?

Please, please try and form a more balanced view of the game.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secrete is wasted if not shared
Dear Dave
How are you and thanks for the posts! I hope you don’t mind my making comment about Ronnie O your choice at No 4.
There is so much that can be written about the lad as he seems to thrive on self seeking controversy that seems contrived.

My first encounter with Ronnie was a youngster I was “Looking After” was asked to fill in for the afternoon session of a Ronnie O double session for a 700 seat exhibition.
Youngster Master T played and beat the local champs boys and girls with some ease and finished with a big hand-shake for the boys and a cuddle and well done for the girls.
Ronnie arrived for the evening session and playing “Done his Duty” but without the cuddles and well dunes

The evening finished in a sour note as the bold Ronnie was out classed by Master T in the evening’s big challenge match demanded for Ronnie’s afternoon absence. Mr Hey You

Anonymous said...

what are well dunes?

who is Master T?

Anonymous said...

Mr Hey you, why dont you tell us who master t is?

Its obviously not a secret if 700 people saw it, and secondly, we will know you are probably not telling porkies

Anonymous said...

He is unsurprisingly, at 34, in decline as a player- long shots, mental weakness ingrained in him as he approaches middle age- i.e can't adjust his game to play the likes of Selby. Both he and Higgins, until recent troubles, were pushing the envelope re the age you could be seen as a title challenger at Sheffield. He will rumble on and because he hasn't burnt himself out in the sense Hendry and Davis did he will win more ranking events but he is one or two years into a genteel decline that will see him fade from challenging for titles within 3-5 years.

jamie brannon said...

I am not a fan of Selby, but still rate him - don't see what is biased about that. Like Dave said, no player is everyone's cup of tea.

As for a being a role model I think more kids look up to him than most other players as lets be honest he is hardly a vindictive man, who like the rest of us has made some mistakes which now doubt will be dredged up again to emphasise that O'Sullivan is sub-human scum!

Selby has recorded some notable victories over him, but Ronnie is still ahead overall. I know people will say I am attacking Selby because Ronnie doesn't like him, but John Higgins and Mark Williams are big rivals of O'Sullivan and I like them.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Dave
How are you lad and thanks for the (the sometimes) obscure posts. I am sorry Dave I must disagree with your statement on Ronnie’s fruitless search for Perfection.
I hope Dave you don’t put the bar-up like “Snooker Forum” people for my giving a strong opinion to a youngsters query on “Stance and Balance.

Snooker is in its infancy and the only “Sport” that has never searched for perfection. Snooker players and snooker addicts are so easily satisfied with winners.
The great Joe Davis searched and found “Century breaks” then found the Maximum breaks thus creating the illusion that regular high breaks was a kind of perfection.

Possible Dave because snooker does not attract many “Graduates” or deep thinkers the games progress has been stunted.
The top players especially world Champions are inclined to think! “If there is anything new to find”; I, as a champ would have discovered it many years ago.

Snooker of the future will find perfection in stroke play by teaching with words as opposed to “Watch Me” and I’ll show you again.
A point to note Dave! Jimmy White had the greatest cue action in the world and though the videos are still around it needs a Mr Somebody to explain exactly what Jimmy was doing right.
Mr Hey You

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Mr 8:37 and 11:51 am
Hello Dave with your permission I will disclose the Master T name as there is quite a story there and very true.

Craig Taylor with his parent’s supervision started to play snooker at 13 years of age. Within three months he had made his first century break with the help of good opposition. Within nine months the lad had made his first 147 but only in a practice session

While still only thirteen Craig was invited to compete with all the top players in York the winner to play Jimmy White at the Barbican in York.
Craig at 13 won the York tournament and then (Dressed Up) beat Jimmy in front of a full house and the congratulations loud and clear from John Virgo the M C.

The down side of the story is! Someone told Craig he had “Natural Ability” and the lad refused to believe that he was only a good student and still a learner.
The story ends happily for Craig! Though still an apprentice the lad was using “Journeymen Tools” and is still in a happy ever after ending? Mr Hey You .

Anonymous said...

Jamie who are you to state (as fact) that he is not vindictive? If i hold the opinion that he is, i cannot prove it as fact the same way you cannot as fact that he is not.

He is a pathetic role model, physically attacking people and asking at a press conference for oral sex just shows what this joke of a man is capable of, great though he is at snooker!

Anonymous said...

Jamie, the only reason these things get 'dredged up again' is because he did them and most normal people or normal sportsmen/women don't do them or haven't. It is only people who do bad things who get caught doing bad things!

jamie brannon said...

What loads of people do bad things and don't get caught. On all known evidence O'Sullivan is not vindictive, one punch on an official should not define his character.

I like the fact that is O'Sullivan is different, and what is normal anyway?

Anonymous said...

If you think it was just a punch, then thats not my fault.
Clearly failing to point out the list as long as a monkeys arm of things he has done to make him a bad role model just shows what type of person you are.
I am not saying everyone has to dislike him, but i have based my opinion of him on the many many things he does that i wouldnt like my 12 year old daughter to see or hear.
Now, if you think that it is ok for him to do those things, 'cause he is different, then great. I would rather my 12 year old daughter, fan of snooker, doesnt have to hear about things like his chinese interview.

John McBride said...

One thing for sure about Ronnie, apart from his effortless talent, i, he gets 'em talking.

jamie brannon said...

He asked for oral sex, it's hardly the end of the world. Next you will be telling me you were there when Mike Ganley was punched.

I actually had a guy on facebook saying Raoul Moat is a legend, so Ronnie must be god compared to that!

Anonymous said...

Jamie, you are just showing yourself and your level of maturity with the post above.

and for all you know i could have been there when mike was 'punched' lol ;)

i know mike well and have done a while (though i wasnt there, not that youd know no matter what i said)

your posts are akin to those of a little boy lost in the big bad world of adults.

Anonymous said...

The flawed genius will always be more appealing than the clean cut poster boy. Besides which Ronnie plays more attractive snooker than anyone else.