Snooker Betting: Chilled Ronnie set for serene progress at Worlds

Are we seeing a different Ronnie at this year's World Snooker Championships?

Ronnie O'Sullivan looked a changed man during his first round victory over Peter Ebdon - but will the becalmed Rocket soar to victory or fizzle out in Sheffield?

"It was before last year’s Crucible extravaganza that O’Sullivan first went to see sports psychologist Steve Peters, the man who put the winning mentality into Vicky Pendleton and Britain’s other cyclists."

So a few days into snooker's World Championships at the Crucible there's been no shortage of controversy. There was Mark Williams insulting the sport's most famous venue in a four letter Twitter outburst - and then Mark Allen branding an entire country's snooker players as cheats. Makes you grateful for that calm, sensible Ronnie O'Sullivan, doesn't it?

It's normally The Rocket who is the centre of assorted dramas and outbursts, mixing brilliant off the cuff clearances with tears, tantrums and threats to quit the game. Unquestionably the game's most talented and charismatic player, he's also been the ticking time bomb at almost every event he's ever played.

Yet this year seems different. He was mentioned in the build up to the World Championships as little more than an after thought. I saw champion John Higgins discussing the prospects of the various contenders, and he threw O'Sullivan's name in as "somebody who could be a dangerous outsider".

For those who got on him at that stage at prices of around 10.09/1, his thumping 10-4 first round win over Peter Ebdon was good news. The odds have been tumbling since, but he's still on offer at around 6.611/2 to be world champion this morning and there's definitely value in that.

It was before last year's Crucible extravaganza that O'Sullivan first went to see sports psychologist Steve Peters, the man who put the winning mentality into Vicky Pendleton and Britain's other cyclists. Dr Peters warned at the time that his methods normally took 12 months to work, so you just wonder if we are seeing the benefits.

When Ronnie met Ebdon in 2005, he was so frustrated by the slow play that he drew blood digging his nails into his own face. This time he sat calmly watching proceedings while Ebdon dithered over shot selection, and then stepped up to the table with the same sort of cool.

"My game's not brilliant, but at least my mind is allowing me to give 110 per cent," was his verdict afterwards.

Of course what we don't yet know is whether if you take away the temper from O'Sullivan you also diminish the talent. If the line between madness and genius is supposed to be paper thin, then you can't be sure how it will alter O'Sullivan's play if he's staying back from that knife edge rather than balancing on it. We won't find that out until next week. It's all very well staying calm in the early rounds and telling himself it doesn't matter, but only when the prospect of winning his fourth world title becomes more real can the true test of Dr Peters work begin.

The early signs do look promising, however. Next up for O'Sullivan is the winner of Mark Williams and Liu Chuang, and he is now 2.427/5 second favourite to emerge from a difficult quarter three of the draw which also includes Neil Robertson.

The only downside is that Ronnie might need to get himself a new nickname. But if he's not The Rocket any longer, he could still be a sparkler!

Five things you might not know about Mark Williams
1. Born March 1975 in Cwm, Ebbw Vale, his dad Dilwyn was a coal miner. Mark did one shift down the mines at the age of 15, enough to encourage him to pursue his snooker more seriously!

2. He was a promising amateur boxer, undefeated in 12 fights as a schoolboy

3. He is partially colour blind and sometimes has difficulties distinguishing the brown from the red balls - he once potted a brown believing it to be a red

4. He has a tattoo showing the Welsh Dragon eating the English flag

5. His 2003 clean sweep of UK Championship, the Masters and the World Championship made him the first left-handed player to be world champion - and put him alongside Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry as the only players to win those three majors in one season.

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