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.