I dread to think how many words I’ve written about Ronnie O’Sullivan over the years but sometimes in sport mere words don’t do justice to a performance.
Maybe that’s as it should be because O’Sullivan has always been a player who has generated emotions, which linger longer than simple statistics or tributes, no matter how heartfelt.
Many love him, many do not, but surely nobody can seriously contend that he is the best there is in snooker and, in terms of what he is capable of doing, the best there has ever been.
The nonchalant way he finished the BetVictor Welsh Open final with a 12th career maximum break was jaw-dropping. It brought the house down at the Newport Centre and was a fitting way for the tournament’s long association with this loyal venue to end.
Snooker’s greatest showman once again proved why he is box office. Most notable about this remarkable cueist at the moment though is just how level headed he is. Nothing phases him. Right now, no one can get close to him.
Ding Junhui made a bad start to the final, missing a few early on, and O’Sullivan won a couple of close frames in taking a 7-1 first session lead.
Ding found his range when they resumed, recovering to 7-3 with two centuries, but O’Sullivan shrugged this off and cantered to victory.
The 147 in the last frame was sheer artistry. He switched hands at the end to pot the final black left-handed because…well, because he can.
He can because he’s that good. It’s not that the other players can’t play to a really high standard. They can and they do. But this is something else. This is special.
O’Sullivan has finally found an even keel in his life and that makes him more dangerous than ever. His first ranking title came just over 20 years ago. He has now won 26. But for his demons he could have won many more in the interim but at 38 it is clear he has found a second wind and surely more trophies will follow.
If it’s words you want, here are some famous ones from the poet, Percy Shelley: “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings. Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.”
Except, when we look on O’Sullivan’s works we marvel. And when the words dry up there is the man, the player, the champion, Ronnie O’Sullivan.
He won’t be around forever, so appreciate this unique sportsman while you can.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.