After miraculously equalling Stephen Hendry’s record seven world titles at the Crucible earlier this year, O’Sullivan will be setting his sights of moving clear of the Scot in the sport’s showcase tournament.
The Rocket overcame Judd Trump back in May, 18 frames to 13, as he waltzed to his seventh triumph in Sheffield after a two-day battle with the Ace in the Pack to cap off another wonderful tournament at the Crucible theatre, the home of snooker.
However, his season will be getting underway after a failure. He was unable to qualify out of his group, with Pang Junxu topping the group that the Rocket was in, qualifying for the final stage which gets underway on Friday.
O’Sullivan’s fate in the tournament was sealed when Junxu secured a comfortable 3-1 win over him on his way to topping the group on Wednesday.
Chinese players are dominating the ranking event so far, with five already through to the final stage with the rapid rise of the sport in the Asian country astronomical after the pathway was paved out for them by the likes of Ding Junhui and Marco Fu.
Yuan Sijun also got the better of O’Sullivan after a 3-0 whitewash victory over the Rocket in the short, best of four matches.
It wasn’t a total failure for O’Sullivan who did manage to register one win in his group during the second stage of the tournament.
Satisfyingly for the Rocket, his win came over his old rival Ali Carter. The pair have battled it out numerous times, with some famously seeing tempers flare, with them even getting physical with shoulder barges at times.
Whilst dotting the Is and crossing the Ts in his victory with the pink and black remaining, O’Sullivan managed to entertain without playing an exhibition shot, with the frame and match comfortably in the bag.
He’s down on the pink and just as he’s about to deliver the cue, he breaks wind audibly, with the referee laughing along with O’Sullivan as he pots the final black to close the encounter out. Unfortunately for Ronnie, there were no spectators at the tournament, so the arena was even quieter than usual.
In comparison, Carter doesn’t even crack a smile, annoyed at his performance as he had chances in the match, but just didn’t have enough to get over the line against O’Sullivan.