The Master Again

Jan 16 / Snooker System
It was fitting to see Ronnie O’Sullivan crowned Masters champion in the year this famous event turned 50.

This prestigious tournament has always stood out from the rest with its boisterous crowds and a sprinkling of stardust from the game’s greatest ever names – it’s right up the Rocket’s street.

Reserved for only the world’s elite players – and they don’t come any more elite than O’Sullivan. Now a record eight-time winner and the undisputed greatest player of all time, it probably couldn’t have happened any other way as we marked half a century with an all-too familiar finish.

It’s always special when O’Sullivan lays his hands on one of snooker’s major titles but this a 23rd occurrence felt a little transactional – perhaps even a touch inevitable.

Despite trailing this final for long spells, Ronnie did what he did just over a month ago at the UK Championship in York. With the match finely poised at 7-7, he powered to the line with a burst of three straight frames. Last time it was Ding Junhui. This time it was Ali Carter. But it doesn’t seem to matter, because the outcome is so often the same.

Surprisingly, this is the first time O’Sullivan has ever won back-to-back major titles and the fact that he seems to be becoming more dominant as he ages is a scary thought for the rest of the field.

Barring a few short spells of magnificence, O’Sullivan rarely hit top form at Alexandra Palace yet it is his ability to move through the gears at the crucial time – almost every time – which seems to be setting him apart from the rest.

He already holds almost all the records in the game and now he’s creating his own. This win made him both the youngest and oldest Masters champion shortly after achieving the very same feat at the UK Championship.

There’s very little left for him to achieve on the old green baize but the media – swarming like vultures – always seem to want a bit more. Next up on the bucket list is a crack at the World Championship once more. This presents the opportunity to become the outright eight-time record winner and with it complete the Triple Crown in a single season. This is something he has never done before and in fact has only ever been done three times and hasn’t been done by anyone for more than two decades.

Ronnie says he is not motivated by records, numbers and milestones but either way, they keep on coming and are showing no signs of subsiding.

O’Sullivan’s mastery keeps on rolling and for the top players around him, it’s time to bite back. There is an air of invincibility which needs to be broken. You can hardly blame him for his air of arrogance on his victory lap at the Masters. Albeit his comments towards Carter were distasteful at times as he questioned his bottle to beat him on the big stage, it is arguably this very persona of superiority which has made him the champion he is today.

The question now is simple: Who can stop him in Sheffield? We won’t run through the names today but there are of course plenty capable. It’s time for them to roll up their sleeves and get back to business.

Right now, Ronnie is top of the tree – and by quite some margin. His longevity at the top is unrivalled and the narrative as we countdown to the World Championship could hardly be greater.
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