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Player Profile  Ronnie O'Sullivan
RO'Sull

Born: 5 December 1975. Birmingham, England
Turned Professional: 1992
Highest Break: 147 (11 occasions)
Career Centuries 629 (to end of 2010/11 season)
Highest Ranking 1st (2002/3, 2004/5, 2005/6, 2008/9, 2009/10)


Ronnie O’Sullivan has been making snooker headlines since he was 10 years old and knocked in a break of 117. Two years later he made a witnessed total clearance of 142 and became British under-16 champion the following year when still only 13. A year later he reached the quarterfinals of the under-19 event but lost his under-16 title at the semi-final stage. Still only 14 he was winning prizes of up to £1000 and at 15 he made his first 147 in the 1991 English Amateur championship but he went on to lose in the final. He did go on to win the IBSF World Under-21 event in 1991 when still only 15 and it was a surprise when he lost in the last 16 of the World Amateur of that year. In just about his last event as an amateur he lost to Stephen Lee in the Southern final of the 1992 English Amateur championship.
 
So, in the summer of 1992, Ronnie joined the professional ranks and began the long qualifying process. He made an immediate impact by winning 38 straight matches, a record unlikely ever to be beaten, and qualified for the final stages of all but one of the ranking events. Even at this early stage he was being picked as a future world champion. He went on to reach one quarterfinal and five times got to the last 32 including the world championship. In non-ranking events he won his first professional title in the Nescafe Extra Challenge and reached the semi-final of the Humo Masters as well as the same stage in the minor-ranking Strachan Challenge and finished that debut season ranked 57th.
 
He began the 1993/94 season by reaching the Dubai Classic semi-final and then went on to the UK championship. It was still a week or so before his eighteenth birthday and having seen off Steve Davis 9-6 in the last eight he beat Stephen Hendry in the final by 10-6 to become the youngest ever winner of a ranking event. He went on to reach the final again in his very next event, the European Open, but this time Hendry got his revenge but Ronnie collected his second ranking title when he beat James Wattana to win the British Open. At the Crucible, although he did win his first round match, he lost heavily in his next to John Parrott but he had done enough to leap into the top 16 at number 9 after just two seasons as a professional. He also collected the Benson & Hedges Championship which gave him a wild card to the Masters at Wembley but there he failed to get past his opening match.
 
Despite two finals, two semi-finals and three quarters, he failed to add another ranking event victory in 1994/95 but he did take the £120,000 winners cheque in the Benson & Hedges Masters giving him, already, two of snooker’s big three titles. He had now moved up to third in the rankings. In the next season, although he won the non-ranking Charity Challenge and again got to the final at Wembley and to the semis of the world championship, he again failed to win a ranking event and dropped down to eighth. During these two seasons he had to watch John Higgins, who had joined the professional ranks at the same time as Ronnie, take much of the glory.
 
He got back on the winning road in 1996/97 taking both the German Open and Asian Classic titles on the ranking circuit. He also won the Matchroom league and lost in the finals of both the Charity Challenge and the Masters. It was at Sheffield, in the world championship, however that he made his biggest headlines that season. In his opener against Mick Price, Ronnie thrilled the world with a magnificent 147 maximum in just 5 minutes and 20 seconds. He collected £165,000 for this effort but sadly lost in the deciding frame in the next round to Darren Morgan. He was now ranked seventh and in 1997/98 he collected a second UK title as well as the Scottish Open but still he could not get beyond the semi-finals in the Embassy. He did beat Ken Doherty in the final of the Benson & Hedges Irish Masters only to be disqualified after failing a drug test and his only other victory came in the Far East in the Riley Superstars International. He had now got back up to third in the rankings and now Ronnie, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins and Mark Williams were beginning to be known as ‘The Big Four’ and were expected to dominate every event.
 
A poor season by Ronnie’s standards followed. Having pulled out of the UK his best was again reaching the world semi-finals although he did pick up the Scottish Masters title and, for the third year running, lost in the final of the Charity Challenge. By now Ronnie was often talking of giving up the game and sometimes it did seem that his heart was not in it. He did collect two more ranking titles in 1999/2000, the China International and Scottish Open, but ended that term on a real low having lost in his opening match at the Crucible. On the non-ranking circuit, the Champions Cup had replaced the Charity Challenge but for Ronnie the result was the same – runner-up. He nevertheless retained his fourth spot in the rankings and helped England capture the Nations Cup.
 
The 2000/01 season started on a positive note with victory in the Champions Cup. This was swiftly followed by winning the Regal Masters in Motherwell after which he got to the Grand Prix final, losing to Mark Williams. Then it was the semis in the UK before going out to the Far East where he retained his China International title. Back home again things did not go so well on the ranking tour but he won the Irish Masters and the Premier League. At the Crucible for the world championships, Ronnie was beginning to run into some awesome form prompting Peter Ebdon, after his quarterfinal defeat, to compare him with Mozart! He met arch rival John Higgins, who was also in tremendous form, in the final, the outcome of which was in doubt right up to the final session. Ronnie prevailed 18-14 and he had finally achieved what had been predicted for him in those early teenage years even though it had taken him longer than most people expected. A wonderful season, in which he had amassed total of six titles, saw his prize money rise to over £2,750,000.
 
All Ronnie had left to achieve was the world number one position in the rankings and he started the next season well with a semi-final in the British Open. He then made his fifth maximum break in the new LG Cup which he followed with his third UK title. He only failed to get past the last sixteen twice but a late surge from Mark Williams meant that the top ranking position was still in doubt as the players arrived at the Crucible. After a great run in defence of his title, Ronnie lost in the semis to Stephen Hendry but had done enough to clinch that number one ranking. He rounded off the season with a third Premier League title.
 
2002/03 was another solid consistent season. It began with a third Regal Masters title and he won back-to-back ranking events with the European Open and Irish Masters. His only failure was a shock first round defeat at the Crucible at the hands of Marco Fu but even then he managed to make another maximum break, his second at that venue. That defeat did mean that he could not retain his number one position in the rankings and he dropped to third.
 
In 2003/04 he got as far as the quarter final, at least, in all but one of the ranking events, collecting the Welsh Open title for the first time along the way. He arrived at the Crucible as the favourite and did not disappoint with solid performances in every round culminating in a victory over Graeme Dott in the final to win his second world crown and regain the world number one ranking position.
 
He won five more titles in the following season comfortably retaining his number one position in the rankings but in 2005/6 his only title was the Premier League and after missing one ranking event altogether, he dropped down to third. In 2006/7 he won his third Masters title and retained the Premier League but again there were no ranking titles despite getting to four quarter finals, one semi and a final. Somewhat surprisingly given such consistency, he dropped to 5th. In the following campaign he regained the UK title, won a fourth successive Premier League, and reached the final of both the Grand Prix and Welsh Open and the climaxed the season with a third World Championship and a return to the number one slot. In the next campaign the Northern Ireland Trophy was his only ranking title but he added a fourth Masters and a fifth successive Premier League and in 2009/10 he only managed one title, the Shanghai Masters and lost his number one position.

2010/11 was Ronnie's worst season for a long time. He did reclaim the Premier League title but only played in two of the twelve PTC events and withdrew from two of the main ranking events losing his opening match in three of the others. People were beginning to question whether he had any appetite left for the game but he regained some form at the Crucible losing out to eventual winner, John Higgins in the quarter final.
 
Ronnie is, in the opinion of most pundits, the most naturally talented player the game has ever seen although some favour Alex Higgins or Jimmy White. What is certain is that he is ready to assume the mantle of ‘Peoples Champion’, which they previously held. Sadly, like other supremely talented sportsmen – Alex Higgins from snooker and George Best from football to name just two – Ronnie’s temperament is questionable and he often performs well below his best and frequently seems to lose interest. His talent is such, however, that he can build century breaks left-handed as well as right and when he is in the ‘groove’, his opponents can do nothing but sit back and admire his magic. He has no less than ten officially recognized maximums to his name, over 600 century breaks and well over £6 million in prize money. What is left for him to achieve? Well I am sure he would hope to win more world titles and if his mind is right it is difficult to see anyone preventing him from doing so.

Career Highlights
World Professional Snooker Champion 2002, 2004, 2008
UK Championship winner 1993, 1997, 2001, 2007
British Open champion 1994
Asian Classic champion 1996
German Open champion 1996
Scottish Open champion 1998, 2000
China Open champion 1999, 2000
Irish Masters champion 2001. 2003, 2005
European Open champion 2003
Welsh Open champion 2004, 2005
Grand Prix champion 2004
Northern Ireland Trophy champion 2008
Shanghai Masters champion 2009
Masters champion 1995, 2005, 2007, 2009
Charity Challenge champion 1996
Scottish Masters champion 1998, 2000, 2002
Premier League champion 1996/7, 2000/1-2001/2, 2004/5-2008/9, 2010/11 (9 times)
Champions Cup champion 2000
Benson & Hedges Championship winner 1993
Players Tour Championship event winner 2011/12 (Twice)
Nescafé Extra Challenge champion 1993
Riley Superstar International champion 1997
Power Snooker champion 2010
Nations Cup winner 2000 (England Team)
IBSF World Under-21 champion 1990
 
© Chris Turner 2009
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