Sensational O’Sullivan, Higgins set 2020 World Snooker Championship ablaze | More sports News – Times of India

2018 Billiards World Champion and Arjuna awardee Sourav Kothari will be writing a series of special reports on the ongoing World Snooker Championship in Sheffield, England exclusively for Times of India.
His first report summarising round 1 and with main highlights of round 2 so far:
As the curtains went up on snooker’s biggest and most celebrated event being played at the hallowed Crucible Theatre in Sheffield without any live audience, fans all over the world were treated virtually to an unbelievable spectacle at the World Snooker Championship as the sport’s poster boy Ronnie O’ Sullivan annihilated Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 10-1 frames with breaks of 101, 85, 115, 74, 88, 76, 65 & 93 in his first round encounter.
Taking a mere 108 minutes to complete the rout, Ronnie shattered the record for the fastest match ever played at the Crucible Theatre previously held by Shaun Murphy at 149 minutes in his 10-0 victory over Lou Honghao.
In terms of speed at the Crucible, Ronnie now holds the record for the fastest ever 147 break (5 minutes and 20 seconds in the 1997 World Championship) & the fastest best of 25 match (versus Tony Drago in 1996 World Championship) along with the fastest best of 19 match three days ago.
With players maintaining a strict “No Physical Contact” policy, it was heartening to see O’ Sullivan and Thepchaiya greet each other before the match with the traditional Thai gesture of folded hands and a head-bow akin to India’s very own “Namaste”.
Fans and connoisseurs worldwide were left dumbstruck at the sheer magic Ronnie produced on the table at a break-neck speed of 13 seconds per shot reducing his accomplished opponent into a bewildered spectator.
Besides his unmatched consistency that aids him to decimate opponents with relentless assaults, what stands out distinctly is O’Sullivan’s mastery in break-building and robotic cue-ball control to name a few weapons in his ever expanding arsenal.
Irrespective of how Ronnie fares in this year’s championship, the ambidextrous genius from England will remain an enigma and his wizardry will continue to captivate the imagination of millions of fans around the globe.
Scotsman John Higgins’ scintillating maximum break against Norway’s Kurt Maflin in his second round match added high voltage to an already electrified crucible atmosphere and sent a clear message to his adversaries of his burning desire to run for the crown. However, the curse of the 147 is not unknown. In 2003, Ronnie O’ Sullivan went down to Marco Fu in the first round at the crucible after making a 147. Similar fate was meted out to Higgins who in spite of herculean efforts in snatching some crucial frames from the brink of losing them could not cross the line and eventually went down to Maflin 11-13 frames. This was Higgins’ tenth competitive maximum but his first ever in the World Championship where the last 147 was seen in 2012 by none other than 7 times World Champion Stephen Hendry.
However, the grandeur of the majestic Crucible Theatre is not limited to Ronnie O’Sullivan or John Higgins. The current world no.1 and defending champion Judd Trump is one of the most feared opponents in the professional snooker circuit. Dominating the 2019-20 season with a remarkable 6 ranking titles, Trump has been dishing out stellar performances one after another and was placed the pre-tournament favourite to win the 2020 world crown by betting agency Betfred, the sponsor of this year’s championship.
Not far away are former World Champions “The Thunder from Down Under” Neil Robertson, “The Jester from Leicester” Mark Selby, and “The Welsh Potting Machine” Mark Williams – absolute legends of the game, all of whom stormed into the second round barring Shaun Murphy whose crucible campaign came to an abrupt end going down to the very young and talented Noppon Saengkham of Thailand.
It must be mentioned here that the empty audience stands at The Crucible Theatre due to the Covid-19 pandemic is frankly not a grim sight. It is a testimony to the indomitable spirit and determination of the World Snooker Tour family led from the front by Chairman Barry Hearn, Jason Ferguson, the players, referees, broadcasters and sponsors, all of whom have shown what unputdownable truly means.
So it’s time the fans surrender themselves to be enthralled by these phenomenal geniuses and vicariously experience the entire gamut of emotions from ecstasy, thrill, joy and fulfilment to shock, frustration, misery and dismay as they witness these superstars put up mind boggling performances in their bid to annex the 500,000 sterling pounds first prize and the coveted Title of 2020 World Snooker Champion.

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