Ronnie Is A Flawed Genius, And The Greatest Snooker Player Ever, Says Hearn

O'Sullivan won his seventh world title with an 18-13 triumph over Judd Trump
11:10, 04 May 2022

Ronnie O’Sullivan is the classic flawed genius and the greatest player in history, according to World Snooker Tour president Barry Hearn. 

The Rocket made it a magnificent seven world titles to equal Stephen Hendry’s record with an 18-13 win over Judd Trump in the Betfred World Championship final on Monday. Along with his many other records and achievements that is now seeing the 46-year-old hailed as the best of all time. 

There has also been controversy and low points along the way, including being stripped of a title after testing positive for cannabis, walking out of a major quarter-final and being fined for lewd gestures and comments. 

While at the helm Hearn clashed regularly with the world No1 over his outspoken criticisms of the sport and the way it was run. And even at this most recent tournament O’Sullivan had a huge bust-up with referee Olivier Marteel in the final, and has another disciplinary probe pending over a gesture earlier in the event. 

Hearn said: “I already thought he was the greatest to be honest, but he cements that position with a seventh world title to equal Stephen Hendry’s record. 

“There is now, officially, no doubt that he is the greatest player ever to hold a cue.

“We have seen the sublime and the brilliance, and also the controversial with Ronnie. It is all part of his make-up as a genius, but we don’t have to accept it if he goes outside the rules. I’m glad I am not involved with the disciplinary process, because it can be very time-consuming. 

“Sometimes there is a price to pay to watch geniuses, that doesn’t mean to say they go unpunished. But you do learn to put up with some things. Alex Higgins, Ilie Nastase, Ian Botham…these types of geniuses in their respective sports had an outgoing personality that sometimes went beyond tolerable limits. But that is the price of genius and if you took it out of them it would take something away that stopped them reaching the same level. 

“Alex Ferguson treated Eric Cantona differently, and he was known for his man management. I like that approach – put your arm round him before you strangle him. But what makes Ronnie’s achievement special for me is the context. Joe Davis won the world title for years and years, because there was no one else to beat. And the mark is really who have you done it against, that legacy of being the best. And he has done it consistently against great players. Not just his fellow members of the ‘Class of 92’ in John Higgins and Mark Williams – but Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, Neil Robertson, Mark Selby, Judd Trump and the rest. 

“Stephen Hendry was the best in his time, and that’s all you can do – be the best in your time. The thing with Ronnie is, his time has gone on a lot longer than anyone else, which makes his record even more admirable. 

“Steve Davis dominated the 1980s, and Hendry the 1990s, Ronnie has been at the top for double that time up against players who learned from him and the other two. The bar has been raised during his period.” 


*18+ | BeGambleAware

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