RONNIE O’SULLIVAN’SWorld Snooker Championship win in 2022 has once again raised the debate over who is the greatest star in history.
The 47-year-old equalled Stephen Hendry's record seven world titles after beating Judd Trump 18-13 at the Crucible last year.
Ronnie is back in action on Friday in Sheffield, when he takes on Hossein Vafaei in the second round – looking for his eighth world title
Many would suggest now that the Rocket has earned top billing and should be regarded as the game's all-time top player.
SunSport’s Rob Maul provides his own top ten using performances at the Crucible as the yardstick.
For that reason, the likes of snooker's founding fathers Joe Davis, Fred Davis and John Pulman – winners of the worlds when it was a challenge not knockout format – have been discounted from the debate.
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Check out the top ten, below…
1. RONNIE O'SULLIVAN
Smashing Trump in the 2022 World Championship final – his seventh crown – has underlined O’Sullivan's position as the Greatest.
The Rocket has won more ranking titles, more Triple Crowns, compiled more 147s and more centuries than anyone in the pro era.
For the exhilarating way he plays the game, the talent he possesses, the longevity of his achievements, O’Sullivan deserves his spot at the top.
2. STEPHEN HENDRY
The Scot’s joint record of seven world titles, including five in a row, were achieved between 1990 and 1999. This remains the benchmark.
Over Ttirty years ago, he lifted his first crown aged 21 years 106 days – his record as the youngest world champion still holds true.
The 54-year-old, the nemesis of Jimmy White in four Crucible finals, took the game to another level after the dominance of Steve Davis in the 1980s.
His ruthless standard of potting showed the next generation they had to improve.
3. STEVE DAVIS
In the 1980s, when snooker was at his peak, with millions watching on BBC TV, Davis was the man to beat.
Perhaps there were more talented stars, and certainly greater drinkers back then, but the Nugget applied and dedicated himself harder, raising the standards of professionalism.
In 2010, Davis made a record 30th Crucible appearance at the age of 52, defeating reigning world champion John Higgins to become the oldest world quarter-finalist since Eddie Charlton in 1983.
The 65-year-old is also the only snooker player to be crowned the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Ironic for a quiet man whose tongue-in-cheek nickname was "Interesting" during his playing days.
4. RAY REARDON
Often overlooked by some yet Reardon’s achievements stand the test of time.
The Welshman, now 90, won his six world titles at six different venues, the last one being at the Crucible in 1978.
That victory over South African Perrie Mans was achieved at the iconic Sheffield venue at the age of 45.
He was the oldest world champ in history, before O'Sullivan took that title off him.
O’Sullivan speaks highly of his former coach, saying Reardon taught him about the art of safety play.
5. JOHN HIGGINS
Winner of four world titles – with three of them coming in different decades – and 31 ranking tournaments.
If the name Higgins is ever mentioned among the Greatest Of All Time debate, some would naturally think of Alex not John.
But the Scot’s record, consistency and longevity deserve acknowledgement.
O’Sullivan constantly talks up the 47-year-old, saying he should receive more recognition than what he gets.
Between 2017 and 2019 he lost in three Crucible finals, narrowly losing in the first two.
And the 147 he achieved at the 2020 event behind-closed-doors will go down as one of the sport’s most memorable exploits.
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