Ronnie O’Sullivan predicts ‘carnage’ in World Championship while making Formula 1 comparison

Six-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan is hoping for a historic, record-breaking seventh title at the sacred Crucible Theater in Sheffield

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Ronnie O’Sullivan gets past Kyren Wilson to secure his sixth world title

Snooker icon Ronnie O’Sullivan predicted the World Championship will be “carnage”, likening the upcoming drama to the first turn of a Formula 1 Grand Prix.

The six-time world champion enters the Crucible Theater as world number one after reclaiming the top spot by Mark Selby. It’s O’Sullivan’s fifth stint as the world’s top-ranked player.

O’Sullivan – who last won the world title in 2020 – replaced Selby as World #1 this month despite losing 9-10 to Neil Robertson in an epic semi-final at the Tour Championship in Llandudno. The 46-year-old could lose status though – he needs to amass a record-breaking seventh world title to retain the season-ending position.

O’Sullivan is expected to drop to fourth in the rankings behind Selby, Robertson and Judd Trump after his sixth world title – an 18-8 win over Kyern Wilson in August 2020 – is no longer included in the rankings. He faces a tough challenge as the new world number one returns to Sheffield for a record-breaking 30th straight season.

O’Sullivan believes the first round could be dangerous for the top players, with anyone in the top 16 at risk of early elimination. Seven of the top 16 lost in 2016, six lost in 2018 – including Stuart Bingham and Selby.

“I think the first lap will be like Formula 1 going into the first corner,” O’Sullivan told reporters. “It’s going to be slaughter. There will definitely be a lot of seeds.

“Every first-round game I’ve played in Sheffield has been tough. It’s probably the toughest match you’ll play all year. It gets easier after the first game, so I’ll probably get more dangerous the longer I stay in.

Ronnie O’Sullivan meets David Gilbert in the opening round of the 2022 World Championship



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“I don’t really have any expectations. I will definitely come here for 18 days and enjoy myself. If I’m still in the tournament, great. If not, it’ll still be great – I’m not too worried.”

O’Sullivan – who will face 2019 semi-finalist David Gilbert on Saturday afternoon – needs to win and hope neither Selby nor Trump reach the final to retain his top spot in the leaderboard. Four-time winner and defending champion Selby will reclaim number one status if he wins the championship, but a last-place finish would also do if Roberston or Trump fail to progress past the semifinals.

Selby will face Trump in the last four and if he loses before the semifinals, O’Sullivan, Robertson or Trump each have an opportunity to conquer the world No. Robertson – winner of the Masters, English Open, Players Championship and Tour Championship this season – can reclaim first place for the first time since January 2015 as the Australian clinches his second title.

Trump hopes to become just the fifth player in history, along with Ray Reardon, Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Selby, to finish the season as the world’s top player for a third straight year.

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