It’s now undisputed, if it wasn’t already. Ronnie O’Sullivan is the greatest snooker player of all time.
While many had given the enigmatic Rocket GOAT status on talent grounds long before he’d surpassed Stephen Hendry’s records for most ranking titles (36) and Triple Crowns (18) due to the countless moments of unfathomable genius and blockbusting entertainment he’d treated us to since bursting onto the scene in 1993, the statistics have now landed the knockout blow.
O’Sullivan's magic seventh World Championship title against Judd Trump – 21 years after his first – finally draws him level with the 'King of the Crucible', but he stands alone at the top for all the other records that matter – and many others.
At 46 years and 146 days, the oldest ever world champion has most ranking titles (39), most Triple Crowns (21), most UK Championships (7), most Masters titles (7), most career centuries (1,170) and most maximum breaks (15), including the fastest ever made.
Hendry has always known that sole ownership of the sport’s most prestigious record was on borrowed time and recently insisted it would be an ‘honour’ to share it with the player who stunned him as a 17-year-old in the 1993 UK Championship final.
By the end of the Millennium, the legendary Scotsman had completed his haul of 18 Triple Crowns, which were all compiled since 1989 and included five UK Championships and six Masters crowns, while he’d only win a further four ranking titles – so he’s had over 20 years of watching his milestones being eroded away.
Indeed O’Sullivan’s time span of winning major titles – which now stands at 29 years – is testament to the astounding longevity of his greatness compared to anyone who’s ever picked up a cue, Hendry included.
Just by being here – as world number one no less – the Romford man was setting a record for most consecutive Crucible appearances with 30, a tally that is level with Steve Davis’ overall record. His five match wins during this edition took him to 74 Crucible victories, four more than one of other Hendry’s few remaining records.
The rate at which he's been losing his records hasn’t been lost on Hendry, who was teased by Hazel Irvine and Steve Davis while on punditry duty about O’Sullivan potentially reaching 16 centuries at a single World Championship.
The 53-year-old, who first lifted the famous trophy aged 21, quipped: "Well he can’t become the youngest world champion, not even Ronnie can do that.”
Davis replied: “But he is playing like Benjamin Button.”
In 25 years’ time, maybe that record will fall too.
O'Sullivan has always played down his pursuit of the record and maintained that stance in his post-match press conference.
He said: "I think it meant more to him than it does to me, to have seven world titles. We share it, it’s alright to share that, Hendry’s a legend of the game, an absolute legend of the game.
"It’s just a number at the end of the day, I don’t get too caught up with it to be honest with you."
The Rocket had earlier joked with BBC's presenter Hazel Irvine during the trophy ceremony that Hendry can share the record with him for another year.
However, when pressed for a more serious answer he replied: "I've never bothered about records, I've never performed well if I'm going for stuff like that. I just try to enjoy the game, compete, try and enjoy what I do, and work hard at my game.
"Then you let the snooker gods decide what they're going to decide, and these 17 days they were on my side. With Judd, we all knew he wasn't playing his best. That's what a champion does, they don't play their best, they get to the final, and they still nearly win it. He's going to be winning this a few times and the other guys better get their act together."