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The good, the bad and the ugly of Ronnie O'Sullivan at the Crucible

Ronnie O'Sullivan of England walks past a television camera (credit: Michael Regan/Getty Images)

One way or another, Ronnie O'Sullivan has played a major role in the story of the World Championship at the Crucible Theatre.

Since making his debut as a 17-year-old in 1993, 'the Rocket' has regularly made the headlines at Snooker's blue-riband event for all the right and wrong reasons.

He has continued do so this year following his snubbing of mandatory post-match media duties after beating David Gilbert 10-7 in the opening round.

Here, we take a chronological look back at the good, the bad and the ugly of Ronnie O'Sullivan at the Crucible...

Playing left-handed and assault - 1996

Rising star O'Sullivan held a comfortable 8-2 lead over Alain Robidoux in the opening round in 1996.

It was then that the 20-year-old decided to play several shots with his left hand on route to a 10-3 victory, much to the anger of his Canadian opponent, who later described it as "showboating" and refused the post-match handshake.

'The Rocket' was involved in further controversy during that tournament when he head-butted Media Official Mike Ganley - now the Tournament Director at World Snooker - and was fined £20,000.



The fastest 147 in history - 1997

O'Sullivan truly announced himself to the world during the first round at the Crucible in 1997.

Leading 8-5 and needing two more frames to see off Mick Price, 'the Rocket' wrote his name into the history books with a record that may never be broken.

Sit back and enjoy five minutes and 20 seconds of sheer genius that pocketed a staggering £167,000...



The missed pink for the maximum - 1999

O'Sullivan had a chance to repeat the feat in frame 23 of his closely fought Semi-Final with Stephen Hendry two years later.

However, there was to be no fairy-tale for him this time around, as he overcut the pink to the left centre much to the dismay of everybody inside the Crucible.



Attack on Hendry - 2002

Despite an ongoing mutual respect between himself and Hendry, 'the Rocket' launched a scathing and unexpected attack on his idol ahead of their Last-Four clash in 2002.

Accusing the seven-time World Champion of bad sportsmanship from a previous encounter, he added: "I know if I do get beat and he comes up and does a moonie in front of me and goes 'Ne ne ne', I'll just look at him and say 'well done' and say 'go back to your sad little life'.

Hendry would go on to win 17-13 - ending O'Sullivan's defence of his first World title.

147 v Fu - 2003

O'Sullivan may have exited the 2003 tournament at the first hurdle against Marco Fu, but he still managed to grab the headlines for all the right reasons.

In just over six-and-a-half minutes, 'the Rocket' became the first player to make multiple maximums in Sheffield and bagged a further £147,000.



Packing a punch - 2004

O'Sullivan would lift his second World title in 2004, but his mental strength was called into question again during the tournament.

Locked in a close Second-Round match with Devon's Andy Hicks, O'Sullivan reacted angrily to missing a red to the right centre.

Warning: Please don't try this at home!



Slowed down by Ebdon - 2005

Having trailed 8-2 at one stage, Peter Ebdon drew widespread criticism for slowing the pace of his 2005 Quarter-Final with O'Sullivan right down as he ground his way back into the contest. 

Ebdon is renowned for his hard and methodical style of play, but notably took over five minutes to compile a break of 12 - the same time it took O'Sullivan to make that maximum eight years earlier.

'The Rocket' was clearly affected as he was seen feigning sleep, asking a spectator for the time and breaking the skin on his forehead with a frustrated scratch on the way to a 13-11 defeat.

Ebdon later claimed: "I put my heart and soul into every match. I didn't do it deliberately."



Tip troubles - 2006

O'Sullivan had been plagued by cuetip problems throughout the 2006 event.

These came to a head during his Semi-Final defeat to Graeme Dott, during which he was captured on camera appearing to deliberately remove the tip.

This ensured a 15-minute break to re-tip the cue before he returned to make a break of 124, drawing criticism from Dott, Steve Davis and John Parrott.

147 v Williams - 2008

'The Rocket' was firing on all cylinders on his way to a third World crown in 2008.

He surpassed Stephen Hendry's record when compiling his ninth maximum break to complete his Second-Round victory over Mark Williams.

This included a stunning positional shot on the 13th black to develop the two remaining reds...



"You need your eyes testing" - 2010

O'Sullivan became spontaneously annoyed during his Quarter-Final showdown with Mark Selby in 2010.

'The Rocket' protested the addressing of a touching ball by referee Leo Scullion, much to the amusement of the crowd, before telling the former Policeman: "You need your eyes testing!"

He went on to lose the match 13-11.



That 92 break - 2012

O'Sullivan was locked in a closely fought 2012 World Championship final against Ali Carter, who was holding his own at 3-3 in a repeat of their 2008 showdown at the Crucible.

A scrappy seventh frame had ensued with all six colours off their spots and the reds sporadically spread around the table.

'The Rocket' has always spoken about how he likes a challenge and, believe it or not, all of these balls disappeared in one break...



Long-awaited return and warned for obscene gesture - 2013

Following a year-long sabbatical from the game, all eyes were on the return of the defending champion ahead of the 2013 tournament.

O'Sullivan produced some sensational snooker as he blew the rest of the field away, before securing a fifth title after beating Barry Hawkins 18-12.

However, controversy was not too far away from 'the Rocket'. He appeared to make an obscene gesture during his mouth-watering Semi-Final with Judd Trump, leading to a stern telling off from referee Michaela Tabb.

Kids, look away now!...



Playing in his socks - 2015

After appearing to have adopted a more relaxed outlook since his work with Sports Psychiatrist Steve Peters, O'Sullivan demonstrated an array of erratic behaviour at the Crucible last year.

It all began in his first-round match against Craig Steadman, when his new shoes evidently became very uncomfortable.

After multiple attempts at resolving the issue, he subsequently played the seventh frame without them and, at it's conclusion, asked the crowd: "Has anybody got a size eight or nine?"

Following a short absence from the arena, 'The Rocket' returned donning a pair kindly lent to him by Tournament Director Mike Ganley (whom he had assaulted 19 years previously), before going on to see out a 10-3 victory.



Media snub - 2016

All seemed well during his 10-7 victory over David Gilbert in the opening round of this year's event.

However, it emerged that O'Sullivan had snubbed his mandatory post-match media duties, while there were rumours of 'banging, shouting and swearing' coming from his dressing room.

'The Rocket', who also reportedly stormed out of the Crucible, received an official warning for his troubles.



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The good, the bad and the ugly of Ronnie O'Sullivan at the Crucible

One way or another, Ronnie O'Sullivan has played a major role in the story of the World Championship at the Crucible Theatre. Here, we take a chronological look back at the good, the bad and the ugly of Ronnie O'Sullivan at the Crucible...

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