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Where does Ronnie rank?

World Championship
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"The greatest genius sportsman there has ever been."

A pretty bold claim by anybody's standards, but that is Steve Davis' verdict on Ronnie O'Sullivan, who clinched his third world snooker title on Monday after totally dominating the tournament from start to finish.

O'Sullivan's battles with depression and substance abuse are well documented, almost as much as his extraordinary talent with a snooker cue in his (left or right) hand. The 'tortured soul' amateur psychoanalysis has been conducted time and time again.

But does he deserve Davis' accolade in a world where the likes of Garrincha, George Best, Maradona, Ayrton Senna, Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus (feel free to point out the inevitable omissions) all have realistic claims on the same description?

In fairness, Davis does qualify his statement, acknowledging that, for instance, Woods and Roger Federer win in their sports with far greater consistency.

But Davis sticks to his claim that O'Sullivan is the best there has been "as a pure genius".

O'Sullivan's domination of snooker is almost absolute at the moment, with no player able to get close to him when he is at his best.

His three world titles move him into third place on the all-time list behind only Davis and seven-time winner Stephen Hendry, while his three 147 maximum breaks this season have merely underlined his breathtaking ability.

Like many other sporting geniuses, O'Sullivan's life away from the cocoon of competition and excellence in his chosen field has been far from plain sailing.

That does seem to be improving for the 32-year-old, with the two young children in his life helping him to settle down.

But the unpredictable part of his personality was clear to see when, even in the moment of his triumph at The Crucible, O'Sullivan suggested - not for the first time - that he may walk away from the sport. Or he may take a break. Or he may come back and win more world titles. Who knows?

So where does O'Sullivan rank among sport's all-time geniuses? Does he merit a place alongside the likes of Ali and Maradona? And how much more can he achieve in snooker?

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comment by LKeet6 (U2263027)

posted Jan 18, 2009

if people want to talk about sportsman's conduct that's fair enough. Frankly i find it pathetic that people say his bad moments have "ruined" the game for them or "made me not want to watch the game anymore"

man, talk about a weak mentality, you must struggle in other areas of your life as well

the person talking about hendry being more attacking than the other 3 put together may have been grossly exaggerating but still had a point. yes, hendry was an extremely attacking player but it was more subtle things about him that made people dislike him, both on and off the table.

he was attacking but never unpredictable. His break building was logical rather than expressive (best word i could find.) He would openly admit he was not there to entertain people, whereas ronnie always says that's what he gets a kick out of. all those point on hendry are totally fair enough, no blame on him, but it doesn't make you a true fan's favourite.

people who love hendry love him for his excellence, again totally fair enough but at his best IMO ronnie gives you that and more.

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posted Jan 18, 2009

one important name you missed out in the genius stakes is phil taylor.Add the titles won by sampras to the number of titles won by schumacher and you get the number of times phil has won the world yes i think he should be mentioned in the same breath!

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posted Jan 18, 2009

what about don bradman, statistically 2x better than anyone to play the game ever....

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comment by ibavey (U4261575)

posted Jan 19, 2009

The fact that Ronnie O'Sullivan can play left handed as well as right handed does not make him any better than Federer, Tiger Woods, Phil taylor etc. The fact is Ronnie has taught himself to play with both hands as this gives him an advantage - There is no advantage at all for those other guys being able to play left handed.

Even if Tiger could hit the ball left with a left handed swing (which he can with an inverted club) why would he waste his time perfecting this - he is only allowed to carry a set number of clubs, he is not likely to waste one of these by taking a left handed club out for the 1/1000 chance that he gets a situation where a left handed swing becomes advantageous.

Likewise Federer, he can hit forehand and backhand - why would he need to be able to hit the ball with his left hand?

Other than Snooker (and football I guess - but left/right footed)) I can not see any reason why any other sportsman would benefit from being as good with his left hand as he is with his right.

That said, Ronnie is one of the best sportsman we have ever produced, but for other reasons. Not because he can play left and right handed.

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posted Jan 19, 2009

Other than Snooker (and football I guess - but left/right footed)) I can not see any reason why any other sportsman would benefit from being as good with his left hand as he is with his right.

Water polo ? Handball ?

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comment by ibavey (U4261575)

posted Jan 19, 2009

of course, waterpolo/handball, those huge sports - even 606 does not recognise them in their list of sports (see left).

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comment by Dion (U2980017)

posted Jan 19, 2009

ibavey! cure you lest we forgetting rock paper scissors extreme!

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posted Jan 19, 2009

Ronnie is without doubt one of the most talented sportsmen ever. Whether he is THE greatest is of course up for debate.

In response to a couple of posts, I disagree that only clean living and impecable sports people can be considered true geniuses/ambassadors. Woods and Federer have been mentioned and in the history of their respective sports many would argue that they have been the greatest ever.

However when it comes to being a genius, this often comes with downsides - personality traits. But this is what makes people like Ronnie so interesting to watch, they are unique, and whilst foremost they are sports people they are also entertainers.

I would much rather watch (or have the chance to meet) Maradonna over Pele, or Senna over Prost, Schumacher over Hakinnen, Murray over Henman (not quite as clear cut but since the Aus open is on) and Ronnie over Hendry. They are unpredictable in their own way, some suffering from depression, others abusing substance and all can be very volatile. Take this element away from them - resulting in squeaky cleaness and their sports would suffer.

On his day Ronnie without question is the most talented snooker player ever lived, but the fact that he breaks cues, walks out part way through matches and acts a goat in interviews creates great interest and in a funny way endears you to him. If he was a robot and won every game he played, which no doubt he could I might find myself checking teletext at the end of the night to see what margin he won by. Instead I sit their engrossed with every session wondering what he might do next.

So what if he could have won more titles, hes shown on many occasion what hes capable of. Hes clearly a complex individual, a bit of history, but people should stop giving him stick (not aimed at people in here by the way) and appreciate him for what he is - a wonderfully gifted yet temperamental sportsman, and without doubt one of the best of all time.

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posted Jan 20, 2009

Is snooker or darts really a sport?
More of a game really than sport.
The level of fitness required to be competitive is nothing compared to that of tennis or football.
RS is a talent, but greatest sportsman ever??? I don't think so.

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