PTC1 2011/12: O’Sullivan Takes Title, Boosts Top 16 Position

Click to view my updated projected seedings list

Questions have been raised over the future of Ronnie O’Sullivan during the past year but today he reminded everyone just what he can do by taking victory in the first ranking event of the 2011/12 season in Sheffield…

Having made it through to the last 16 stage back on Monday, O’Sullivan began this morning as he did then by slipping 2-0 behind early on, this time to Martin Gould. Unfortunately for the Pinner Potter however, the result was also to be the same as the former world number one stormed back to win the match 4-2.

Next up was Stuart Bingham, a man who had previously come through 4-3 against Stephen Maguire on the black in his opening match. There was however to be little he could do about O’Sullivan as Ronnie took another 4-2 win, before repeating the feat against surprise semi-finalist Joe Jogia in the semi-finals, also coming close to a 147 during the third frame of the match, missing the yellow on 120.

The final saw him come up against Joe Perry, a player who is on the comeback trail after a mixed campaign in 2010/11 which came to an agonising end against Stephen Hendry at the Crucible in April. Despite that defeat however there have been positives for Joe during the last three months, particularly in Berlin where he made it as far as the quarter-finals.

Today began with victories against James Wattana and Jamie Jones before a hard-earned 4-2 triumph against Graeme Dott took him into the final.

Unfortunately for Joe however O’Sullivan was to prove a tougher proposition altogether and with breaks of 115, 107 and 60, Ronnie was able to win in just 51 minutes and bag himself 2,000 ranking points in the process.

While it is early days in the season and with different players at different stages in their pre-season preparations at the moment it is in my opinion hard to read too much into results here, it is a confidence-boosting win for a player who despite having won several major titles in his career, had been without ranking event silverware (minor or otherwise), since the 2009 Shanghai Masters.

The ranking points too are also important as down to 15th place on projected seedings list prior to the event, he now moves up to 11th place and while not yet safe for the season’s first cut-off point, is in a more secure position than he was. Joe meanwhile also moves up, this time to 26th place and for now at least, comfortably inside the top 32.

Elsewhere in the event today, Xiao Guodong continued to impress with victory against Liam Highfield before taking Graeme Dott to a decider in the quarter-finals. A player who impressed me a lot during the World Championship qualifiers back in March, I think that Xiao could be one to watch this season as he looks to establish himself on the tour.

As previously referred to, Joe Jogia also raised eyebrows by making it through to the semi-finals with victories against Marcus Campbell and David Gilbert before running into O’Sullivan. His efforts were not without reward however and moved him up from 49th to 43rd in my latest projected list.

Wrapping up, overall it has been an interesting event on paper, certainly hectic with the huge increase in amateur entries this season as they look to secure a place on the main tour via this route. It is not ideal to see players in action gone 1:30am and hopefully this can be worked on in the future, although in such a short timescale it is hard to see how. I look forward to seeing how they get on in August when the action moves on to Gloucester…