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Ronnie has been winning matches he should have lost

Postby D4P

It goes without saying that Ronnie O’Sullivan is unique in a lot of ways. One of those ways is that he is one of the few (if not only) sportspersons to hold/share most of their sports most prestigious records while simultaneously being almost universally considered to be an underachiever. Despite having won more of every meaningful snooker event than just about anyone else, both fans and haters alike generally seem to agree that Ronnie should have won more than he did/has. For a variety of well-chronicled reasons, Ronnie at least partially wasted quite a few years of his career in his 20s and 30s, and it wasn’t until he reached his early 40s that he started winning at the rates that have long been expected of him.

In just the last 3 seasons alone, Ronnie has won the 3 (arguably) most prestigious ranking events (i.e. the WC, TC, and UK), and the 3 most prestigious invitationals (i.e. the Masters, CoC, and Shanghai Masters). No one else has won those 6 events in their career, much less in the span of 3 seasons. Setting aside the TC, John Higgins is the only other player to have won the other 5 events.

One of the most interesting dimensions of Ronnie’s recent seasons has been that he has been winning matches (and tournaments) that he “should have lost”, rather than losing when he should have won (which is arguably what he has done for much of his career). There are 6 matches in particular that stand out to me as matches that Ronnie should have lost, but ended up winning on his way to winning the (prestigious) event. Consider:

1. 2017 Masters, Last 16, Best of 11

Liang Wenbo had a relatively simple black to the left corner to beat Ronnie 6-4 but hit the near jaw and missed, leaving the black over the corner for Ronnie to pot (left-handed). Ronnie then made a century in the decider.

2. 2017 UK Championship, Last 16, Best of 11

Sunny Akani had arguably played the match of his life to lead 5 frames to 4 and to trail Ronnie 49-48 in the 10th frame. Sunny just needed to clear the colors to beat Ronnie 6-4 and was on his way to doing so when he potted the green in the yellow corner and (presumably) intentionally cannoned the blue to move it off the baulk cushion, only to unluckily pot it in the green corner in the process. Ronnie went on to win the frame and the decider.

3. 2018 Champion of Champions, Final, Best of 19

Ronnie led 6-3 and 8-5 before Kyren Wilson won 4 consecutive frames to lead 9-8. In the 18th frame Kyren was working on a break of 61 and led by 60 points with 75 remaining. He was on a red to the left corner but had to bridge over other reds, and he overcut the red and left it over the pocket. Ronnie managed to win the frame and then made a century in the decider.

4. 2019 Tour Championship, Semi-Final, Best of 19

Judd Trump led 6-2 and 9-8, and was working on a break of 39 in frame 18 when he played a poor positional shot on what should have led to an easy red. Ronnie eventually laid a fantastic snooker (while taking safe balls off the cushion in the process) and won frame 18 to force a decider. Judd potted the black for a 50-break to lead 50-0, but should have gotten better position on the next red. He missed a long red to the green pocket, and Ronnie eventually pulled to within 54-35 (with 35 remaining) before missing a tricky, last red along the side cushion with the rest. He left the red over the corner, and Judd potted it along with the blue to lead 60-35. He left himself in pretty good position on the yellow, which (if potted) would have given him a 27-point lead with 25 remaining. He chose to hit it hard in hopes of getting position on the green, but he missed and Ronnie laid another excellent snooker and then potted a cracking yellow to the green corner on his way to match-winning 27-point clearance that included a tricky match-ball black along the top cushion.

5. 2019 Shanghai Masters, Quarter-Final, Best of 11

Kyren Wilson led 5-1, and was at the table leading 5-2 and 49-0 in Frame 8 before losing position after potting the blue and leaving himself with a very tight long red. He hit the blue instead of the red, and Ronnie went on to win all of the remaining frames.

6. 2020 World Championship, Semi-Final, Best of 33

We all know what happened in this one-of-a-kind match against Mark Selby. Ronnie trailed 13-9 and 16-14, while playing a serious of shots that arguably rank among the most ill-conceived in World Championship history. But just enough of those ill-conceived shots worked out in Ronnie’s favor, and he was able to emerge victorious in the decider. It’s also worth noting that it had been ordained from on high that Ronnie would lose to Ding Junhui in the 2nd round, and he also trailed Mark Williams 7-2 in the QF.


So, there you have it: 6 matches that Ronnie should have lost but ended up winning, in prestigious events where he lifted the trophy at the end. Would he have lost these matches earlier in his career? Possibly, but we’ll never know for sure. All we know is that Ronnie’s resume is looking more and more like what snooker observers have long thought it should, and that (perhaps) he’s finally starting to shed some of his “underachiever” legacy.

Re: Ronnie has been winning matches he should have lost

Postby Andre147

Even when things go against him, he finds ways to win, and Steve Peters has helped him massively on this department.

Before Peters, Ronnie could have the odd comeback, 2004 Welsh Open Final springs to mind, but they were much rare.

In the matches you mentioned his opponents helped a bit sure, but in big matches all players need a bit of help from their opponents, but Ronnie did very well to win them.

Re: Ronnie has been winning matches he should have lost

Postby FoulNMiss

We could also include the 2018 NI Open semi against Selby if he didnt lose the final to Trump. That fluke on the final red was insane, with Selby not taking his chance after the first foul N a miss, as usual greedy in his defensives shenanigans. Have to admit his snooker looked perfect though.

Re: Ronnie has been winning matches he should have lost

Postby rekoons

Good thoughtful post! <ok>

Altough from another era, the 2012 german masters comeback from 4-0 or so behind vs. Andrew Higginson led to him winning the event, and later that year his 4th WC.

Re: Ronnie has been winning matches he should have lost

Postby Holden Chinaski

Steve Peters has definitely helped Ronnie a lot. I can't even imagine how many titles Ronnie would have won had he met dr Peters when he was young...

But the other thing is, Ronnie just has incredible bottle. He's such a good pressure player. The way he can turn it on when he has to and just clear up, even when the balls are in awkward positions, is just crazy.

When people think about bottle and winning deciders, they think about Higgins and Selby. But it's definitely Ronnie who's the best. He leads the deciding frames won stats and the match win percentage stats and it's not even close:



Re: Ronnie has been winning matches he should have lost

Postby TheRocket

yeah he won a lot of matches from the brink of defeat over the last few years and ended up winning the title in the end. He obviously had the odd comeback and great win from behind in the 00's but he definitely does it more often now.

This time it was even more special because it was the World Championship. In back to back matches against Williams and then Selby. So he did it against two All-Time Greats, not against bottlers.