Steve Davis on Ronnie O’Sullivan: I had an X Factor but he’s XXX

Ronnie O’Sullivan is yet again favourite to win the World Championship (Picture: Getty Images)

Steve Davis once ruled the world of snooker but has no complaints over Ronnie O’Sullivan now sitting the baize throne, saying: ‘He’s the closest I’ve ever seen to the ceiling of what is humanly possibly.’

The Nugget won six World Championship titles during his pomp in the ’80s before Stephen Hendry rose to prominence in the ’90s and now the Rocket’s epic 30-year flight at the top of the game has cemented his position as the GOAT.

Comparing the champions of any sport across decades is always tough, with games, conditions and the world as a whole evolving.

However, Davis does feel there is something more than a little special about O’Sullivan that sets him apart from anyone who has ever lifted a cue.

‘It’s so hard to try and judge eras because each era does benefit from the standard of previous eras,’ Davis told Metro. ‘That’s the evolution of the species, so to speak.

‘I think what would be fascinating is if all the multiple champions in the snooker world had all been born at the same time. That would be fascinating.

‘But I do think Ronnie is on another wavelength. It’s not just because he’s a great player, there’s something else going on.

Steve Davis first played the Rocket as a teenager back in 1993 (Picture: Getty Images)

‘I’ve said before, he’s the only player where I’d like to know what pictures he’s seeing. I’d love to know if he sees the game the same way as I did when I was behind the shot and summing it up. If he’s something like Tommy the Pinball Wizard, as if he’s more at one with the table and sort of organically tied to it more than other people. That for me is why he’s the ultimate genius we’ve ever had.’

The 66-year-old is certainly not dismissing the other legends of the game, including himself, but admits that the Rocket is nearer to snooker perfection than any of his rivals.

‘Obviously others on their day can beat anybody,’ said the iconic cueist. ‘John Higgins on his day, Mark Williams, Stephen Hendry, me on my day, anybody can beat anybody, but I still think he’d have his nose in front at the very least.

‘He’s got the X Factor above us. We all had an X Factor but he’s got more, he’s XXX!

‘If anybody had come from another planet to take it to another level, that would be Ronnie O’Sullivan. It’s hard to think how anybody could really have any more talent than Ronnie O’Sullivan. He’s the closest I’ve ever seen to the ceiling of what is humanly possibly.’

2024 Spreadex World Grand Prix - Day 7

O’Sullivan has won five titles this season as he continues to rule the sport (Picture: Getty Images)

The 48-year-old heads to Sheffield this year looking to win a record-breaking eighth Crucible title and Davis says it will take something special to stop him doing just that, although pressure will be weighing heavily on the greatest cue arm in the game.

‘Ronnie O’Sullivan has such a good B Game, even though some people don’t think that of Ronnie,’ said Davis. ‘He’s got a fantastic temperament for playing great snooker.

‘It always takes a great performance to knock Ronnie O’Sullivan out of an event. If you show weakness he becomes stronger. It takes the performance of say Mark Williams last week [in the Tour Championship final] or Luca Brecel last year, pulling rabbits out of a hat for the whole match.

‘There will be a lot of expectation on him winning the eighth. If anyone can handle the pressure put on his shoulders then he can, but it still makes it slightly more difficult because of the expectation levels.

‘Not that he’s worried so much about what people think about things, but even from friends and family and people around him, he’ll get a sense of, will he do it? Can he do it?’

The World Championship begins on Saturday, with O’Sullivan getting his campaign underway on Wednesday 24 April.


MORE :
‘It was a crazy thing to do’ – Luca Brecel looks back on wild World Championship win


MORE : Judd Trump wants Ronnie O’Sullivan ‘final showdown’ at World Snooker Championship

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