All attention in the build-up to the start of the 2022 World Snooker Championship at the Crucible was on Ronnie O’Sullivan.
He can make history at the tournament if he prevails as the six-time world champion will match Stephen Hendry’s modern-era record of seven titles.
O’Sullivan won the event most recently in 2020, having first won it in 2001, and he is No.2 seed for this year’s event, which begins on Saturday.
Full schedule: when does Ronnie O’Sullivan play at the 2022 World Snooker Championship?
O’Sullivan began his tilt at title No. 7 against qualifier David Gilbert, winning 7-5. Having trailed 3-0, O’Sullivan stormed back to win the contest on Sunday, his highest break of the match a brilliant 122.
His opponent made the semi-finals of the World Championship back in 2019 and has one ranking title to his name — the 2021 Championship League — but he had little answer once the six-time champion took control.
O’Sullivan’s second-round match was against No.15 seed Mark Allen. After the first session, O’Sullivan held a lead 6-3 lead, the six-time champion producing a clearance of 131 in a superb showing.
He extended that lead to 12-4, and looked in impressive form as Allen had little response to O’Sullivan’s shots. It didn’t take him long to wrap the match up on Saturday, a 13-4 win that saw him set the record for most wins at the World Championship: 71.
Most matches won at the Crucible: 7⃣1⃣
Into his 2⃣0⃣th World Championship 𝗾𝘂𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗲𝗿-𝗳𝗶𝗻𝗮𝗹
— Eurosport (@eurosport) April 23, 2022
O’Sullivan defeated Stephen Maguire in the quarter-finals. He led 11-5 on Tuesday evening, and wrapped the match up in his usual speedy manner in the third session on Wednesday morning, sealing a record-breaking 13th semi-final spot.
Four-time champion John Higgins was his semi-final opponent for a best-of-33 frames match, running over four sessions.
O’Sullivan was 15-9 up after a brilliant third session and, although Higgins fought back to within four frames, he could never quite apply the pressure. O’Sullivan eventually eased to a 17-11 victory.
O’Sullivan’s eighth final is a best-of-35 contest that will finish on May 2. Judd Trump is his opponent, having beaten Mark Williams 17-16 in a Crucible classic in the other semi-final.
Trump won the opening frame but soon fell 4-1 down as O’Sullivan took early control of the contest. However, Trump battled back to a 5-4 deficit after the first frame of the evening session.
O’Sullivan was imperious thereafter, winning seven of the remaining eight Sunday night frames to lead 12-5. He made six half-centuries and a stunning 118 to leave Trump with a mountain to climb.
How to watch Ronnie O’Sullivan’s matches on TV and live streaming
In the UK, there will be coverage on BBC television across BBC One, Two and Four in the UK.
Via the BBC, the action can also be followed when not on a TV channel on either the iPlayer or the Red Button option, with it also possible to view the matches on the BBC website.
Eurosport will also be screening coverage on their channels in the UK, and matches can also be streamed on Discovery+, with the latter option also available to European viewers.
Australian viewers will have the Matchroom Live app as their option for streaming coverage from Sheffield.
How many times has Ronnie O’Sullivan won the World Snooker Championship?
Six times in the past has O’Sullivan been champion. He beat John Higgins 18-14 in 2001 to claim his first.
The “Rocket” beat Graeme Dott 18-8 in 2004, and won by the same scoreline against Ali Carter in 2008.
Carter was again beaten, this time 18-11, in 2012. A year later, title No.5 came as Barry Hawkins was beaten 18-12.
The sixth success came in 2020, when Kyren Wilson was despatched 18-8.
2001 🏆 | 2004 🏆 | 2008 🏆 | 2012 🏆 | 2013 🏆 | 2020 🏆
— Eurosport (@eurosport) December 19, 2020
Has Ronnie O’Sullivan ever lost in the first round of the World Snooker Championship?
Yes. On four occasions O’Sullivan has had to pack his bags and leave South Yorkshire after the first round.
He lost his first ever match at the Crucible in 1993, to Alan McManus 10-7. He was beaten in 2000 on a final-frame decider, 10-9 by David Gray.
In 2003 it was Marco Fu who got the better of him, with the result 10-6.
Most recently in 2019, it was an amateur player James Cahill who caused the shock. He upset O’Sullivan with a 10-8 success.