The word 'genius' is the most overused in sport, often used to describe a moment or a short spell of form. A better way to define it and narrow the criteria is to restrict the label to performers who consistently appear to be playing a different sport altogether from even their closest rivals. Tiger Woods in his pomp might be such an example, or Don Bradman's superhuman 99.94 batting average.
If we were to look at the current sporting world, one of the few to fulfil such rare criteria would have to be Ronnie O'Sullivan, whose bid for a third consecutive, and sixth overall, World Championship title begins on Saturday. Trading at just 2.447/5, Ronnie is the shortest priced favourite for this tournament in Betfair's history.
Throughout his 20 year career, the Rocket has always been regarded as a unique talent, widely agreed to be the most gifted snooker player of all-time. Yet it has only been the last year or so that has really seen him leave the rest behind.
To win last year's title, easily, without any match practice having opted out of the entire season, was an unprecedented achievement. He then produced arguably the greatest ever performance in a snooker major to win The Masters, conceding only seven frames in four matches, most memorably whitewashing Rickie Walden 6-0 in less than an hour. Next, O'Sullivan kept up the same invincible standard at the Welsh Open, thrashing player of the season Ding Junhui 9-3 in the final.
As ever with Ronnie, the key is his mindset. His psychological troubles are well-documented and it has only been recently that he's mastered the mental side of the game. Whereas in the past he might lose interest, patience and struggle to control his frustration when inevitably playing the odd bad shot, the new Ronnie seems perfectly serene and focused, always playing the right shot.
The result is an invincible standard of snooker, with historical potential. In terms of prizes, the ultimate, realistic goal is to surpass Stephen Hendry's record of seven world titles but the sky is the limit. It is fascinating, indeed the true mark of genius, that Ronnie seems to be defying the ageing process. Every other snooker great - Hendry, Davis, White, the two Higgins, Williams, Reardon - had started declining by their mid-thirties. At 38, Ronnie has never been better and if he wants to, could still be thriving at 50.
Of course, none of this is a secret and this year's short odds mean many punters will look elsewhere for value. That doesn't mean he's a bad bet though. Looking at the draw, it's almost unimaginable he won't reach the quarters. From there he'd likely play Shaun Murphy and then Junhui to reach the final, where the worst opponent would be Neil Robertson.
It is unlikely that more than 1.331/3 will be available before any of those matches and all recent evidence points towards comfortable wins. It may be a long time since snooker saw such a hot favourite but this head-to-head sport is the right type to be backing strong favourites. Remember, Hendry and Steve Davis won this event year-in, year-out in their pomp at these sort of odds and both of those legends agree that Ronnie is the greatest ever. Oppose him at your peril.