Ronnie O’Sullivan, the defending Masters champion, starts his bid for a record seventh title on Sunday against Liang Wenbo – and he features a lot in the media on Saturday.
O’Sullivan is of course much in demand for his thoughts ahead of the biggest tournaments, and World Snooker should be congratulated for making him available for more than an hour last week.
A small group of four journalists, including yours truly, sat down with him in Romford, along with a BBC television crew and the results are out there for all to see.
And I would particularly draw attention to a couple of lengthy profiles from two of the better interviewers and feature writers in my game.
I and some colleagues are fortunate in that we get to speak to O’Sullivan several times a year, plus in plenty more press conferences on top of that.
But the impression of someone meeting him once in a blue moon, or for the first time, and given some space to write a proper piece, offers a different and valuable perspective.
And Oliver Brown of the Daily Telegraph and Sean Ingle of the The Guardian have made the most of that opportunity to offer up excellent individual takes on the same meeting.
There is also a good piece in the Daily Mail, all from the same 70 minutes of quotes; but The Times, sadly a fading force on snooker coverage and for reasons best known to themselves, snubbed the rare chance to either send a staff reporter along or make use of the freelance resource in the room.
With the rest of the bases covered I offered up one or two mildly amusing lines to the tabloids (Star, Sun and Mirror on Saturday), and Jamie Broughton of the BBC also got some good use of their time with O’Sullivan.
Players, for example John Higgins in recent years, get rightly criticised when they do not fulfil their media duties either to the letter of the contract, or with the right level of enthusiasm and embracing the ambassadorial obligation that comes with being a top professional.
In fairness to O’Sullivan, he has done his bit over 25 years. Yes, he may have ducked the odd press conference, although you would be hard pushed to name more than one in recent years, but he has done more media over the years than most of the players put together. The fair ones know this, acknowledge it, and are often quite grateful that he is the lightning conductor.
The vast majority of players are superb ambassadors for snooker. They know that while it is their entire world, out there it is a minority sport fighting for attention with other, bigger sports, and they give of their time willingly and outside their contractual obligations for the good of the game.
To all those players we say thank you, and also O’Sullivan on this occasion – with a busy schedule, turning up admitting he “really didn’t want to be here”, looking dishevelled after a late night in Ireland at Goffs and an early flight, but answering the call to promote the Masters.