East End London, 1985, a 10 years old boy amazed
the audience knocking in a break of 117: Ronnie O’Sullivan
started his astonishing and controversial snooker career.
At the age of 12 he made a total clearance of 142 and a year
later he became “British Under-16 Champion”, title
that he’d lose the following season at the semi-final
stage. Still only 14, Ronnie was winning prizes of up to £1000.
At the English Amateur Championships in 1991, he made his
first 147, losing though in the final. The same year he won
the IBSF World Under-21 Championship, but at the World Amateur
1991 he finished in the last 16. Stephen Lee defeats him in
the Southern final of the 1992 English Amateur Championship.
In the summer of 1992, Ronnie O’Sullivan,
nicknamed “Essex Exocet”, turned
professional and began the long qualifying process for the
World Championship. Winning 38 straight matches, he established
a still valid record and qualified for all but one of the
ranking events. 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 one of the Strachan Challenge,
finishing his debut season ranked 57th.
- At the Dubai Classic he reaches the semi-finals.
- Becomes the youngest ever winner of a ranking event.
- Playing against Stephen Hendry in the final, he loses
the European Open title.
- Winner of the British Open (against James Wattana).
- At the Crucible he finishes in the top 16, at number
9, after a match with John Parrott.
- He collects the Benson & Hedges Championship title.
- At the Masters he fails to get past his opening match.
- Despite 2 finals, 2 semi-finals and 3 quarters, fails
to add another ranking event victory, but takes home the £120000
winners cheque in the Benson & Hedges Masters giving him,
already, 2 of snooker’s big 3 titles.
- Moves up to the third place in the rankings.
- Wins the non-ranking Charity Challenge.
- It is the second season in which he doesn’t
succeed in winning any ranking event, even though he gets
to the final at Wembley and the semis at the World Championships.
- Drops down to 8th in rankings, while John Higgins
catches most of the season’s glory.
- Scandal surrounds the World Championship: he hits
a press officer and gets punished with a fine of £20000
plus a 2 year suspended ban after having to face the WPBSA
- At the same World Championship, he is accused by his
opponent Alain Robidoux (over whom he wins an easy 10-3) of
disrespect because of having played left-handed; Ronnie’s
reaction: “I’m better left-handed than he is right-handed”.
- Wins both the German Open and the Asian Classic.
- Winner of the Matchroom League.
- Is defeated in the final at Charity Challenge and
- At the World Championship in Sheffield, he established
a new maximum break record: 147 in just 5 minutes and 20 seconds
(during his match against Mick Price), collecting a £165000
prize for this achievement, but loses in the deciding frame
in the next round to Darren Morgan
- He is ranked 7th.
- Wins his second UK title and the Scottish Open.
- Reaches the semi-finals of the Embassy.
- At Benson & Hedges Masters he defeats Ken Doherty
in the final, but gets disqualified after failing drug test
(tested positive for cannabis) and has to return the £61000
- From the Far East he returns as winner of the Riley
Superstars International .
- Back to third in rankings
- Together with Stephen Hendry, John Higgins, Mark Williams
form “The Big Four”.
- Wins the Scottish Masters.
- Loses in the semis at the World Championship and in
the final at Charity Challenge.
- After a poor season, he is talking about giving up
- Obtains both China International and Scottish Open
titles, but loses in opening match at the Crucible.
- On the non-ranking circuit, the Champions Cup has
replaced the Charity Challenge – for Ronnie the result
is the same: runner-up.
- Retains his 4th spot in the rankings.
- Helps England capture the Nations Cup.
- Wins the Champions Cup and the Regal Masters in Motherwell.
- Mark Williams defeats him in the final of the Grand
- In the UK makes it only to the semis, but retains
the China International title, as well as the Irish Masters
and Premier League ones.
- Wins the final of the World Championship at the Crucible
against John Higgins 18-14.
- Wins 6 titles this season and prize money of over
- Becomes number 1 in rankings.
- Gets to the semi-finals of the British Open.
- Makes his 5th maximum break in the new LG Cup.
- Wins his third UK title.
- At the World Championship he loses in semis to Stephen
- Rounds off the season with a third Premier League
- Wins the Regal Scottish Masters in Glasgow (2002),
but also the European Open (2003) and the Citywest Irish Masters
- Loses 10-6 against Marco Fu at the Crucible,
but scores the second fastest maximum break with a time of
6 minutes and 30 seconds.
- Defeats Steve Davis 9-8 in the final of the Welsh
Open in Cardiff.
- Wins the Grand Prix title.
- After defeating Stephen Maguire (10-6), Andy Hicks
(13-11), Anthony Hamilton (13-3), Stephen Hendry (17-4) in
semi-final and Graeme Dott in the final with 18-8, Ronnie
takes home the World Championship title for the second time.
“I never thought I was going to lose. In fact I thought
I was going to win it before I came to Sheffield,” said
the Chigwell man after lifting the trophy and a cheque for
£250,000. “I had rehearsed it in my mind and I
was convinced about what would happen. I’d like to win
more world titles, possibly four or five. You’ve got
to set yourself high targets to stay motivated.”
He proved his remarkable ambidextrous ability throughout the
tournament, frequently playing shots left-handed. “It
balances me and re-energizes my body,” he said. “I’m
going to practice more left-handed this summer because I might
even play a whole season that way. I’m not sure I could
win a tournament but I could definitely be top 16. It makes
me feel rock-solid like Mark Williams.”
He also paid tribute to his new mentor, six-time champion
Ray Reardon, having forged a partnership with the Welshman
on the advice of dad Ronnie senior. “I’m more
excited about working with Ray than I am about winning the
world title,” he added. “Thanks to him I feel
I can just get better and better.”
- Loses against Stephen Hendry in the final of the British
Open in Brighton.
- Collects the inaugural LG Electronics Tour Order of
Merit title and a £50000 bonus.
- Wins against Alan McManus, Ken Doherty and Jimmy White,
but loses 10-9 to Paul Hunter in the Masters final.
Winning 30 titles in all (from 41 finals), his most important
being the 2001 Embassy World Championship and the 2004 Embassy
World Championship, Ronnie O’Sullivan keeps to amaze
an entire snooker world with his natural talent.
He recorded the fastest ever maximum 147 at the 1997 Embassy
World Championship: 5 minutes 20 seconds. Also responsible
for four other maximums in front of TV cameras, the last of
them at the 2003 Embassy World Championship and previous to
that at the 2001 LG Cup in Preston.
He became the youngest player, at the age of 17 years 11 months,
to capture a world ranking event title by winning the 1993
UK Championship. O’Sullivan is also only the second
player to have compiled more than 300 century breaks during
their professional careers having overtaken Steve Davis to
move into second place behind Stephen Hendry on the all-time
On retaining his China Open title at Shenzhen in December
2000 joined Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, John Higgins, John
Parrott, James Wattana and Mark Williams as the only players
who have successfully defended a world ranking title. He is
also one of only five players to win both the Embassy World
and UK Championships in the same year (2001).
Equals Hendry’s record of three Regal titles by winning
the 2002 Regal Masters in Glasgow. The 2003 Irish Masters
provides O’Sullivan with his 28th major title from the
36 finals he has played in.
No wonder that Peter Ebdon compared him with Mozart!
Author: Monica Hayes