The Butterfly Effect is where one moment can change the course of history. In this case one tournament altered snooker’s history books.
Today’s German Masters marks the first time a snooker event has been held outside of the UK since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold almost two years ago.
And we take a look back at Ronnie O’Sullivan’s career-changing triumph at the popular Berlin-based event a decade ago. The Rocket beat Stephen Maguire 9-7 in the famous final and ascended to become the green-baize GOAT.
But it could have been all so different. O’Sullivan’s career was at a crossroads and on the verge of spiralling out of control. There were genuine fears he could quit the sport for good in 2012.
He had completely lost his love for the game and the previous season was a total write off for the tortured genius. O’Sullivan pulled out of the Shanghai Masters and German Masters, as well as 10 out of 12 PTC events, and lost in every first round match he played between the 2010 UK Championship and 2011 China Open.
It was not looking good for the most talented player to ever pick up a cue. His game was at an unimaginable low ebb and his mental state sadly at its worst since infamously walking out of his UK Championship quarter-final against Stephen Hendry in 2006.
His private life was in disarray and things got so bad he pulled out of the 2011 World Championship, only to u-turn when asked to provide written confirmation.
It was around this time that the Rocket thankfully turned to renowned sports psychiatrist Dr. Steve Peters to resurrect his nose-diving career. And it proved to be the best decision the mercurial star ever made.
Peters had worked with the successful Team GB cycling squad at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the Liverpool football team. But he took on the unenviable task of quieting O’Sullivan’s troubled mind.
At the time O’Sullivan said: "A friend said to me in China that I should see this bloke. I'll try anything that might work.”
The game’s biggest star headed to Berlin ranked 14th in the world and in the middle of an uncharacteristic two-and-a-half-year ranking title drought. With the way O'Sullivan had been playing there was every chance he would have to qualify for the 2012 World Championship.
But by the time he left the German capital the Rocket was ready for lift off and the rest is in the annuls of the history books.
That carer-turning triumph didn’t come without its troubles. Peters had to do everything in his power just to ensure O’Sullivan got on the plane to compete.
And he was on the brink of an embarrassing first-round whitewash to journeyman Andrew Higginson when he went into the interval of their best-of-nine-frame encounter 4-0 down.
The English cueman snookered himself on the last red, and effectively match ball, for a 5-1 win. O’Sullivan fought back as he pocketed match breaks of 86, 63, 60, 66 and 56 to get through by the skin of his teeth.
O’Sullivan then hammered Joe Perry 5-1, came back from 3-1 down to beat Matthew Stevens before a routine 6-4 win over Stephen Lee to reach the final.
And the then 36-year-old needed to produce another courageous comeback as he bravely battled back from 5-2 down to land the welcome title 9-7 at former UK champion Maguire’s expense.
How different could snooker’s landscape be had O’Sullivan not teamed up with Peters and then won at the Tempodrom? It’s not worth thinking about.
Just three months later the Rocket landed his fourth World Championship at the sport’s spiritual Sheffield home and successfully defended his coveted title in 2013.
And that begs the question of how many could he have won had he not squandered commanding 8-3 and 10-5 leads for a third consecutive Crucible crown as Mark Selby stopped him in his tracks in the 2014 final?
O’Sullivan eventually landed a sixth world title in 2020 to match legends Ray Reardon and Steve Davis. He is now within striking distance of Stephen Hendry’s record seven, which was unfathomable a decade ago.
Since winning his 23rd ranking title in February 2012, the Rocket has blown away every record in the game other than Hendry’s elusive haul on the grandest stage.
The 46-year-old stands alone on 38 ranking titles, 20 Triple Crown; World Championship, UK Championship (record seven), and Masters (record seven) wins, most maximum 147s (15) and is the only man to surpass 1,000 career century breaks.