This is largely because back in April, O’Sullivan lost unexpectedly early in the World Championships. He fell to Barry Hawkins, and in doing so failed to make the quarterfinals for only the second time in the last 13 years at the event. As we could probably have guessed at the time, the upset has come to define O’Sullivan’s year, despite the fact that aside from the World Championships he’s looked every bit the star we know him to be.
With that said, however, it’s still more than possible for O’Sullivan to make a success out of 2016 by effectively book-ending it with meaningful triumphs in London. Back in January at the Dafabet Masters at Alexandra Palace O’Sullivan was the man to beat, despite some time away from the game— and he came through on that promise in spectacular fashion. Interestingly enough, for those who may not recall, he won the final against the same man who so shockingly bested him at the World Championships, taking down Barry Hawkins 10-1 in the final.
That represented a strong start to the season, before the World Championships turned the tide against O’Sullivan. But at the Betway UK Championship in York, he’ll get the chance to take a second significant title in the capital city of his home country. Scheduled for November 22 through early December, the UK Championship will draw many of Europe’s top players, and every early indication is that O’Sullivan will be a strong favourite once more. Hawkins is expected to compete, along with the likes of Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, and Judd Trump. So long as nothing dramatic happens between now and November, O’Sullivan will be expected to win the title.
Should he come through, it will be interesting to see how O’Sullivan’s 2016 season is judged. A player of his status has the unfortunate burden of having to live up to near impossible expectations, and thus the failure at the World Championships could still define the year. But ultimately, snooker’s top star still has a chance to make this a very impressive season Ronnie O’Sullivan.