Ronnie O'Sullivan takes the title

  • Last Updated: May 6 2013, 21:34 BST

Ronnie O'Sullivan lifted the Betfair World Championship trophy for a fifth and perhaps last time as he capped his comeback with Crucible glory.

Ronnie O'Sullivan celebrates with the World Snooker Championship trophy.
Ronnie O'Sullivan celebrates with the World Snooker Championship trophy.

Out of snooker for almost a year, O'Sullivan rolled up in Sheffield without any competitive match practice and proceeded to tear through the draw, culminating in an 18-12 triumph against surprise finalist Barry Hawkins.

Hawkins, the 34-year-old world number 14 from Kent, emerged from their tussle with huge credit, having performed terrifically well.

It was comfortably the biggest match of his life and he met the challenge head on. His reward was £125,000 - more than treble the size of his previous highest pay cheque - and the respect of his opponent and the watching millions.

But O'Sullivan magisterially took the title.

He did so in record-breaking style too, with his six centuries one more than any player has managed before in a World Championship final, and with his career total of three-figure Crucible breaks now four ahead of former front-runner Stephen Hendry's haul.

He finished with a brilliant 86, and just like last year brought his son, Ronnie Jr, out to share in the celebrations.

Will it be his swansong to the tournament? He says so, but where O'Sullivan retirement threats go, scepticism follows. He first warned he could quit as a teenager, yet even in recent days has professed his love for snooker.

Should O'Sullivan depart, he would be quitting at the peak of his powers.

On this evidence he is irreplaceable and the sport's authorities, headed by World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn, must be desperate to keep him in the game.

  • Ronnie O'Sullivan celebrates his World Championship victory with the trophy.
  • Ronnie O'Sullivan returned to the Crucible in a bid to retain his World Championship title
  • The defending champion had few problems in beating Marcus Campbell 10-4
  • Ricky Walden beat Michael Holt to breeze into round two
  • Mark Williams was the first big name to be knocked out, falling to Michael White
  • Barry Hawkins went through after crushing Jack Lisowski 10-3
  • Shaun Murphy eyed up the angles during his triumph over Martin Gould
  • Mark Davis sprang a huge surprise by knocking out John Higgins
  • The Scotsman was understandably dejected
  • Mark King edged a close encounter with Mark Allen
  • Ali Carter set up a second-round meeting with O'Sullivan after beating Ben Woollaston
  • Dechawat Poomjaeng became a crowd favourite in his triumph over Stephen Maguire
  • Marco Fu saw off Matthew Stevens
  • World number one Mark Selby had few problems winning his opener
  • Robert Milkins pulled off a major shock by putting out Neil Robertson
  • Stuart Bingham wasted little time in powering past Sam Baird
  • Dechawat Poomjaeng said farewell to his new fans at the Crucible
  • Shaun Murphy was relieved to get past Graeme Dott in the second round.
  • But for Dott defeat was pure agony.
  • Judd Trump kept focus to defeat Marco Fu.
  • Ronnie O'Sullivan needed to keep going against Ali Carter...
  • ...and that's what he did, winning 13-8
  • Earlier, Ding Junhui had taken care of Mark King
  • Stuart Bingham made the last eight for the first time
  • Bary Hawkins was the first man into the last four as he beat Ding Junhui in impressive style.
  • Ronnie O'Sullivan progressed with a simple win.
  • Judd Trump beat Shaun Murphy in a classic.
  • Ricky Walden was the final man to reach the last four.
  • It was hard going at times for Ronnie O'Sullivan in his semi-final with Judd Trump.
  • But the Rocket prevailed to win 17-11 and reach the final for the second successive year.
  • O'Sullivan was pretty pleased with that.
  • The pressure grew on Ricky Walden in the other semi-final as Barry Hawkins whittled his lead away.
  • And it was Hawkins who battled through 17-14 to set up a meeting with O'Sullivan.
  • The stage was set for Sunday's opening session of the final between Hawkins and O'Sullivan
  • It was the Rocket who set the pace during Sunday to take the advantage.
  • He continued to lead the way on Monday despite Hawkins putting up plenty of fight.
  • The title was Ronnie's again with an 18-12 victory and he celebrated with the trophy and his son.
All the best pictures from the 2013 World Snooker Championship at the Crucible in Sheffield.

Following breaks of 103, 106, 113 and 100 yesterday, O'Sullivan ploughed in 133 and 124 on Monday.

Only Mark Selby has made six centuries before, in a second-round match against Hendry two years ago.

The record for a world final previously stood at five, shared by John Higgins, Matthew Stevens and Hendry.

O'Sullivan has been whittling away at Hendry's records, going beyond his total of 127 centuries in the World Championship yesterday and today taking his tally to 131.

He may not intend to chase the Scot's haul of seven titles, but the manner of his latest run suggests he could quite easily take 11 months off again before returning for another shot at success on snooker's most famous stage, and then do the same again for the 2015 championship.

In finishing off Hawkins from 15-10 ahead before the final session, O'Sullivan became the first man since Hendry in 1996 to successfully defend the world title.

They flock to watch O'Sullivan in action.

In the audience for the closing day were the actor and presenter Stephen Fry, who once labelled the champion "the Mozart of snooker", together with O'Sullivan's artist friend Damien Hirst and darts champion Phil Taylor.

Taylor's dominance of his sport, with 16 world titles, perhaps puts O'Sullivan's achievements here into some context.But nevertheless no player has dominated snooker like O'Sullivan this century.

World champion in 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2012, the way he carved a route this time, casting aside Marcus Campbell, Ali Carter, Stuart Bingham and Judd Trump, has perfectly exhibited the staggering natural ability that puts him head and shoulders above his rivals when in the mood.

Thankfully Hawkins pushed him, bringing the very best out of The Rocket. At 7 7 on Sunday night, after a break of 133 from Hawkins, lesser players might have wobbled.

Not a chance of that from O'Sullivan. He responded with back-to-back centuries and a long black to take the last frame of the night to lead 10-7 rather than 9-8. That encroaching danger had been repelled.

Even when the match looked lost, the former office clerk stuck to his task, encouraged by coach Terry Griffiths, the 1979 world champion.

Hawkins began the closing session with a total clearance of 127, trebling in the black, and added the next with a run of 66.

But O'Sullivan rattled in 77 to move two frames away, and an 88 before the mid-session interval brought the silverware within touching distance.

The standard was sky high from his cue, and it remained so. He allowed himself a fist pump once he crossed the finishing line.

On the table, O'Sullivan has been mentally pinpoint sharp over the 17 days. His thanks go to Dr Steve Peters, the sports psychiatrist who was present on Monday night, for that. Off the table, he has personal issues that are prompting his talk of quitting. He says he returned to the sport only to pay school fees.

But after the early scattering of a host of leading seeds, this World Championship could have been a damp squib without O'Sullivan.

As it turned out, it provided one of the great tales of the Crucible, scripted by a genius.

Click here for completely free £10 bet with Sky Bet & £5 free every week