The top 16 for the Crucible were set, with defending champion and former world No. 1 Mark Selby seeded one.

O’Sullivan was in the opposite half of the draw as Selby, and he was the No. 2 seed in the World Championship.

Regardless of the results in Llandudno, the Rocket arrived in Sheffield as the world No. 1 and will overtake Selby at the end of next week’s Tour Championship.

It will be the fifth time in O’Sullivan’s career that he has held the world No. 1 ranking, and the first time since 2019.

Ronnie O’Sullivan will walk down the famous steps at the Crucible Theatre as world No. 1 for the fifth time in his illustrious career in April this year, as the Rocket seeks to equal Stephen Hendry’s record tally of seven world titles.

The 46-year-old O’Sullivan has given himself at least three more chances to win the prestigious tournament before putting away his cue for good, as he considers when it might be appropriate to step away from the spotlight.

After O’Sullivan, now a 30-year professional tour veteran, won his sixth world title in 2020, a return to the top of the sport was always a possibility.

The top four snooker players, O’Sullivan, Robertson, Trump, and Selby, appear to have pulled away from the pack and will all be serious contenders in Sheffield this year.

But it is the Rocket, the most glamorous and box-office of the renowned Class of 1992, which also included John Higgins and Mark Williams, who will be named the best player in the game by MC Rob Walker.

O’Sullivan’s talent in junior events suggested that this was his destiny from a young age. But he had to wait for Scot Higgins and Wales’s Williams to win the big one before he could get his hands on the silver trophy.

That came, the huge potential fulfilled and the hype justified, in 2001 – as he beat Higgins 18-14 in the final.

He was there for 140 days during that time, bringing his total time at No. 1 to five years and 140 days when the clock starts ticking again at the end of this year’s Tour Championship in preparation for the 17 days in Sheffield.

Hendry has spent the most time at No. 1 in the rankings’ history, dating back to 1975, with nine years, including an unbroken run of eight seasons.

Selby has dominated since the rolling system was implemented, spending 2,441 days at the top – nearly three times as many as nearest rival Trump in the same time period.