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Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Oliver Lines – Bold as brass or lack of class?

“I’d have to lose an arm and a leg to fall out of the top 50”.

Those were Ronnie O’Sullivan’s words after defeating Ding Junhui in the round of 16 at the 2020 World Championship, commenting on the standard of play and the young players in the sport.

“They’d maybe do as half-decent amateurs, well actually not even amateurs. They are so bad”.

Three years on, O’Sullivan faces a member of those younger players he so harshly criticized in Oliver Lines.

 “The Rocket” will be looking to win his third event of the season and banish memories of last seasons third round exit to Ricky Walden, whereas Lines will be looking to return to the event for the first time since the 2020/21 season where he exited in the second round to Matthew Selt.

O’Sullivan has perhaps one of the most glittering careers in snooker, with titles dating back to the 1992/93 season, he continues to be one of the best players on the circuit 30 years on from his debut. Lines by comparison is a fresh faced youngster with everything in front of him, born two years after Ronnies first title win, the son of current player Peter Lines has everything to see and everything to learn if he is to reach the pinnacle of the sport.

Speed has been a key component of O’Sullivan’s game throughout his career. After achieving a century break in just 3 minutes 34 seconds at the 2022 Scottish Open, Ronnie remarked, “I just tried to get it done as quickly as I could – win or lose. In and out, quickly as you can. I wasn’t timing it myself, but it seemed quick”. His focus on speed certainly hasn’t hampered his career so far however if Lines can play a frustrating game and upset “The Rockets” rhythm, there could be a shock on the cards in Llandudno.

For Lines this match is about respect, O’Sullivan has made his thoughts on the new breed clear, and a win here would not only put him into the first round of the Welsh Open, but send a clear message to the doubters that he is here to stay.

What do you think?