It marked the first time Ronnie O’Sullivan played competitively since the Snooker Shoot Out in February.
Ronnie O’Sullivan wasted no time in getting back into the swing of things – winning all nine of his frames in Group 10 of the Championship League in Milton Keynes on Friday.
The five-time world champion compiled a century break in his opening frame and didn’t display a whole lot of rust despite hardly picking up a cue for months.
After a 3-0 whitewash of Kishan Hirani, the “Rocket” added another ton alongside runs of 82 and 80 in beating Michael Georgiou by the same scoreline.
The hat-trick was completed late on the fifth day as he outplayed Chris Wakelin with contributions of 97 and 93.
While his impressive performance didn’t necessarily come as a surprise as we know what to expect from the five-time world champion, his appearance did make a few fans look twice.
O’Sullivan, not the only player this week in fact, used the lockdown to make a few changes and was sporting a rather fetching handlebar moustache.
The 44 year-old advances to the second phase next week, where he’ll have to negotiate another group of four in order to reach the Tournament Finals.
Elsewhere, Tom Ford similarly progressed with ease as he raced away from his challengers in Group 15 of the competition.
Ford didn’t quite score as heavily as O’Sullivan, although did knock in a tidy 130 century break, but he lost only a single frame as he coasted through with maximum points.
Once again, all eight players tested negative for the coronavirus before being able to participate.
Accommodation at the Marshall Arena means that players can adhere to the strict isolation measures that are being enforced for this tournament in order for it to run smoothly.
There will be two more groups on Friday with reigning Masters champion Stuart Bingham and Ricky Walden among those set to participate.
A champion’s cheque worth £30,000 is on offer as the snooker players return to some form of normality, albeit under rather unique circumstances.
Live coverage from Milton Keynes is provided worldwide as the sport attempts to capitalise on what is currently a rather barren sporting calender.
ITV4 will provide blanket coverage in the UK and Ireland, Eurosport has earned the rights for the European continent, while new streaming service Matchroom.Live will bring the tournament to fans across Africa, the Americas, and parts of Asia.