WHETHER you love him or loathe him, Ronnie O’Sullivan is always a talking point.
Snooker’s chief crowd-puller was in town yesterday and the green baize ringmaster had no trouble taming opponent Dominic Dale.
Welshman Dale was hoping to be the lion that ripped the “Rocket” to shreds at snooker’s ‘Big Top’.
But it was O’Sullivan who pulled all the strings to delight his army of supporters and whom set up a mouth-watering last 16 showdown with former Rotherham potter Shaun Murphy on Saturday.
It was great to hear from the triple world champion that he’s “still in love” with the game and that he’s glad he decided to renege on his decision to withdraw from the tournament.
He’s a delight to watch when he’s in full flow - and his win over Dale demonstrated that he’s definitely up for the fight as long as he’s enjoying himself.
There were three century breaks - a chance of a maximum 147 break in his opening session - and further match breaks of 96, 78 and 96 which were enough to send the “Spaceman” spinning out at the first hurdle.
Staggeringly, it was O’Sullivan’s first ranking win for nearly seven months.
There’s two camps for the “Rocket”. There’s those that believe snooker will be lost without him, while there’s the other opinion that the sport doesn’t need the Chigwell cueman anymore.
You can’t doubt that on his day that O’Sullivan is a world-beater, his grace around the table and potting master class’ can crush an opponent in quick time.
But when he’s off-colour the 35-year-old usually moans that he’s lost his love for the game and threatens to quit.
Of course there’s a lot more to those threats with off-table problems complicating his life, but for me, snooker would miss such a great talent.
I for one, though, wouldn’t blame him if he finally hung up his cue. He’s dominated the sport for nearly 20 years and, other than John Higgins, is the player most other professionals fear the most.