Ronnie O’Sullivan and Hossein Vafaei go head-to-head in an eagerly-anticipated grudge clash at the 2023 World Snooker Championship.
O’Sullivan and Vafaei have become embroiled in a war of words ahead of their Second Round show-down at The Crucible, but both will now look to let their cues do the talking.
The feud between the pair dates back 12 months, when Vafaei suggested O’Sullivan should “retire” and claimed he was “not good for the game”, before ‘The Rocket’ went on to lift a record-equalling seventh world title.
O’Sullivan battled his way past Chinese debutant Pang Junxu to kick-start his title defence last Saturday and warned his rivals to not “rattle my cage”.
The Iranian star then launched a fresh attack on O’Sullivan following his First Round defeat of Ding Junhui, admitting he would like to “shut his mouth” and adding “He’s such a nice person when he’s asleep.”
O’Sullivan is back at the sport’s spiritual home on a quest to make history by eclipsing the joint record of seven world titles he currently shares with Stephen Hendry.
The Rocket regained the world crown courtesy of an emotional victory over rival Judd Trump in last year’s final, becoming the oldest World Champion in the sport’s history at 46 years and 148 days.
He also broke Hendry’s record of 70 wins at The Crucible and is out to make it number 76 at the expense of his outspoken rival.
While O’Sullivan has not picked up a ranking title since that memorable triumph last May, he has gone on to win the Hong Kong Masters and Champion of Champions titles this season and remains the world number one.
Making a record 31st consecutive Crucible appearance, the Essex superstar is vying to reach the Quarter-Finals for the 21st time.
Vafaei became the first Iranian to register a win at The Crucible when he knocked out 2016 finalist Ding with a fine display, having seen off Andrew Pagett and Jackson Page in the qualifiers to seal a second successive appearance.
The former Shoot Out champion reached the Quarter-Finals of The Masters on his debut in January and is now gearing up for the biggest match of his career to date against the sport’s top talisman.
O’Sullivan’s last meeting with Vafaei came in last year’s German Masters qualifiers, with the ‘Prince of Persia’ storming to a 5-0 whitewash.
The match gets under way from 2.30pm BST on Friday April 21 for a maximum of eight frames, before resuming from 2.30pm on Saturday and 10am on Sunday over the best of 25.
Either three-time World Champion Mark Williams or three-time ranking event winner Luca Brecel will await the winner in the Quarter-Finals.
How to watch O’Sullivan v Vafaei live stream
18+ | Funded account required | Geo restrictions may apply | Please Gamble Responsibly
2) Register an account, place a £10 first bet and get £30 in Free Bets* (18+ only, T&Cs apply)
3) Once registered, go to the sports homepage and select ‘Snooker’ from the left-hand menu
4) Select the play icon next to the match in progress and the stream window will appear
*18+ only. New Customers only. Bet £10* & Get £30* in Free Bets. Sign up, deposit between £5* and £10* to your account and bet365 will give you three times that value in Free Bets when you place qualifying bets to the same value and they are settled. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits. Min odds/bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. T&Cs, time limits & exclusions apply. BeGambleAware.org. *or currency equivalent.
The action is also available to watch live at Skybet. To access, simply:
2) Register an account
3) Place a first bet of £5 or more and get £20 in Free Bets*
4) Go to the Snooker menu and select ‘Watch Live’ next to the match in progress
*New customers only. First single & E/W bet only. £5 minimum stake. 4x £5 bet tokens. Free bet stakes not included in returns. Minimum odds of qualifying bet 1/1 or greater. Free bets exclude virtuals. Free bets are not withdrawable. No free bet expiry. Eligibility restrictions and further Ts&Cs apply. 18+ only. begambleaware.org