RONNIE O’Sullivan was crowned World Snooker Champion for a fifth time after beating Barry Hawkins 18-12.
The Essex man became only the third player in Crucible history to defend his crown after his victory over Ali Carter on this very day last year.
O’Sullivan, who as well as winning the sport’s prestigious trophy landed himself a cash winning prize of £250,000, proved far too strong for Hawkins and indeed everyone else on the circuit as once again he proved he was the best player on the planet by playing some majestic snooker.
O’Sullivan has won this event four times before (2001, 2004, 2008 and 2012) but his fifth world title will undoubtedly be considered his best achievement in the game given he entered the competition having just returned to the sport after almost a year away from the baize and having played just one competitive match all season. This should not be just a special moment in snooker’s history but in world sport in general.
Becoming a five-times world champion is the status which O’Sullivan’s phenomenal talent deserves and he joins a list of very few to have achieved the honour including – Stephen Hendry, Ray Reardon, Steve Davis, Joe Davis, Fred Davis and John Pulman.
Prior to this competition O’Sullivan suggested to the world’s media that his comeback into snooker could be a car crash – but over the past seventeen days he has cruised to glory in stunning fashion with no one in sight of pushing him close.
Runner-up Hawkins more than played his part in his first world final and can take heart for a brilliant performance for arguably which, against anyone else, would have seen him lift the trophy for the first time.
Hawkins has enjoyed his best season on the main tour winning his first ranking title in Australia and his run to the final at the Crucible is further proof he has what it takes to win more silverware in the coming seasons.
With O’Sullivan leading 15-10 going into the evening’s final session, Hawkins kept his hopes alive as brilliant breaks of 127 and 66 reduced his deficit to just three frames.
But when he missed a tricky red along the bottom cushion in frame 28 O’Sullivan sprung into action and sealed the deal. A break off 77 was followed by another classy break of 88 which put him on the verge of glory going into the mid-session interval.
And after the restart O’Sullivan became a five-times world champion in his typical fluent style with another break of 88 to claim victory.
O’Sullivan has said in recent days he may not play in another World Championship as he prefers the smaller events – but if that is the case then what a way to bow out by completing a truly magnificent comeback fairytale.
O’Sullivan’s Road to Comeback Glory:
R1, beat Marcus CAMPBELL 10-4
R2, beat Ali CARTER 13-8
QF, beat Stuart BINGHAM 13-4
SF, beat Judd TRUMP 17-11
Final, beat Barry HAWKINS 18-12