Ronnie O’Sullivan once again wrote himself into the history books after beating Shaun Murphy 10-4 to win the Players Championship on Sunday.
The Englishman’s latest ranking event triumph was his fifth of a magnificent season, equalling the record jointly held by Stephen Hendry, Ding Junhui, and Mark Selby.
O’Sullivan hasn’t quite been as dominant as Hendry was all the way back in the 1990/91 campaign when the Scot took the top honours in five out of the eight ranking tournaments staged that term.
However, the 42 year-old’s success rate of 50% so far this season is hardly to be sniffed at and, of course, there are still a couple of important ranking events still to come so it is highly conceivable to think that the long-standing record might break in the next month.
O’Sullivan produced a dominant display in Llandudno’s showdown to add to his other glories during this campaign in the English Open, Shanghai Masters, World Grand Prix, and UK Championship – where he also accounted for Murphy in the decider.
The “Rocket” also moves a step closer to the all-time ranking event tally, which was once believed to be unbreakable but the target of Hendry’s 36 crowns is now well within sight.
Even if O’Sullivan fails to add another title this season or if he falls short in his attempt to finally collect a sixth World Championship crown at the Crucible, this has arguably been the finest spell of his entire career.
In the past, the Englishman could be brilliant in short bursts without ever being able to maintain his concentration or temperament to go on a prolonged run of success.
Yet, the odd surprise defeat like to Mark Allen in the quarter-finals of the Masters aside, the last six months have been nothing short of flawless from the former world number one.
O’Sullivan is even reeling in Selby in the world rankings with the possibility of usurping the Leicester man, who has been struggling while O’Sullivan has enjoyed his dominance, before the climax of this campaign.
Although the revamped and lucrative China Open is the next stop for the players, attention will obviously soon turn to the World Championship at the Crucible Theatre in April.
There were many comments across social media following O’Sullivan’s thrashing of the “Magician” that this will be the moment to reignite his love with Sheffield after four years of disappointment chasing the sport’s holy grail.
But the World Championship is a completely different beast compared to all of the other tournaments on the calendar and it remains debatable whether or not O’Sullivan can remain focused for the required 17 days.
There is a significant amount of opportunity for something to go wrong in what is rightly labeled as the “Marathon of the Mind” and O’Sullivan has crumbled in Sheffield ever since his shock defeat to Selby in the 2014 final.
O’Sullivan would probably love another crack at the two-time defending champion but the longer he avoids the likes of Selby and John Higgins, players who are not afraid of facing the game’s most talented cueist, it’s probably for the better.
It will be fascinating as always to see what transpires but, for now, O’Sullivan can revel in yet another champagne moment that reaffirms the widespread perception that he’s the best player of all time.