Ronnie O’Sullivan has officially appeared at the Crucible Theatre the most times after playing his first-round match in the World Snooker Championship on Saturday.
The Rocket withstood a spirited effort from debutant Pang Junxu to eventually prevail with a 10-7 socreline in Sheffield.
O’Sullivan has now appeared in 31 consecutive World Snooker Championships since making his own maiden bow way back in 1993.
That takes him above Steve Davis on the all-time list, with the last of the Nugget’s 30 Crucible appearances occurring in 2010.
John Higgins (29 when competing this year), Stephen Hendry (27), and Jimmy White (25) round off the top five, although the latter holds the record for the most World Championship appearances overall – taking his tally up to 43 in total during his stint in the qualifiers in 2023 and one ahead of Fred Davis.
O’Sullivan, meanwhile, negotiated a tricky early test in this year’s tournament as he successfully opened the defence of his title.
The 47 year-old is bidding for a record eighth world crown having equalled old rival Hendry on a magnificent seven a year ago.
One impressive streak from O’Sullivan that did end was a remarkable run of century breaks the world number one had compiled in Crucible matches.
His failure to contribute a ton during the victory over Pang marks the first time that has happened since his 2013 semi-final encounter against Judd Trump.
O’Sullivan, who led 6-1 and 9-4 only to be pegged back to 9-7 by the 23 year-old from China, admitted afterwards that he has not been feeling well.
“I’m relieved it’s over to be honest,” Ronnie O’Sullivan said on Eurosport after securing his place in round two with a break of 81.
“I’ve got a bug, I’ve been absolutely hanging in there all day. Legs, limbs, everything’s gone.”
“I was just so desperate to get over the line in every frame. It was a horrible feeling, but I just thought I’d see if I can get through and maybe a few days rest.
“Or maybe just hang around the Crucible and give everyone my bug.
“I’m so tired, I can’t wait to get back to my bed. It is what it is – I’m through to the next round, let’s see what happens.”
Elsewhere on day one at the World Snooker Championship, former world champions Neil Robertson and Stuart Bingham established 6-3 advantages over Wu Yize and David Gilbert respectively.
Luca Brecel’s attempt to win a first match at the Crucible got off to a positive start as he also orchestrated a 6-3 lead over Ricky Walden.
In the other tie that reached its halfway stage, Ali Carter compiled a terrific 143 total clearance but still finds himself 5-4 down to Welshman Jak Jones overnight.
Those four matches conclude on Sunday with Ding Junhui and Mark Williams also entering the fray against Hossein Vafaei and Jimmy Robertson respectively.
For the full World Snooker Championship draw, results, live scores, and session times, click here.
Featured photo credit: WST