Ronnie O’Sullivan’s decision to defend his World Championship title is good news for snooker and, I suspect, good news for him.
O’Sullivan admitted to being bored during his sabbatical from tournament play. Competing in major events creates a buzz difficult to replicate in ordinary life or exhibitions.
A lucrative personal sponsorship deal with a vodka company would also have helped him make up his mind.
Whether O’Sullivan is the best player in the game is a point for argument but that he is the biggest draw is not.
This is why the media flocked to his press conference today. World Snooker say he is yet to formally enter the World Championship but he has until Thursday to do so.
For the event to have gone ahead without its defending champion would have been a blow. O’Sullivan has guaranteed media interest in the Crucible as the countdown to snooker's version of the greatest show on earth begins.
O’Sullivan’s decision is good news too for Judd Trump. As probable no.1 seed in O’Sullivan’s absence he would have been walking out to play on the first day with all the pressure that comes with that. Plus, most of the pre-event media attention would have been on him. Now it will all be on O’Sullivan.
I’m sure many players were hoping Ronnie would stay away. As he proved last year, he is still a potent force when his mind is finely tuned towards snooker.
On the face of it, it seems unlikely that he can come back with barely any match snooker all year and defend his world title but O’Sullivan’s whole life has revolved around the unlikely.
For a long time he has seemed to feel that not playing snooker was the answer to his problems but time away has convinced him that he does indeed love the game and the challenges it presents.
Snooker has survived without him. Ticket sales and TV viewing figures have gone up this season.
But O’Sullivan is a fascinating figure whose presence in tournaments adds to the general intrigue. Nobody, sometimes not even Ronnie himself, knows what he is going to do next.
It appears come April 20th he is going to play snooker again. The king across the water is coming home.
If he wins a fifth world title it will surely be his greatest ever triumph.