Ronnie O'Sullivan will be a serious contender for snooker's biggest titles for at least another decade, according to fellow crowd-pleaser Judd Trump.
World number two Trump has praised O'Sullivan for picking and choosing his events after the six-times world champion opted out of the first two ranking tournaments of the season at the Championship League and British Open.
Northern Ireland Open
'I will do it again' – Trump enjoys memorable splash in pool
17/09/2021 AT 10:39
In a timely demonstration of sporting longevity, O'Sullivan's fellow 'Class of '92' member Mark Williams lifted the 24th ranking event of his career with a vintage 6-4 win over Gary Wilson that included two century breaks at Leicester's Morningside Arena.
At the age of 46, he is the third oldest ranking event winner of all time behind fellow Welsh icons Doug Mountjoy (46) in 1989 and Ray Reardon (50) in 1982.
In his 29th year as a professional, it is the second ranking title Williams has won this year after his success at the inaugural WST Pro Series event in March.
“Myself, John Higgins (four-times world champion) and Ronnie O’Sullivan having turned pro together all those years ago, we are still hanging around like a bad smell," he told reporters on Sunday.
I have dropped down the rankings a few times and come back up, but we just seem to be sticking around for a lot longer than people expected.
While O'Sullivan, 45, reached five finals last season, he failed to win a ranking event for the first time since the 2010/11 campaign, but Trump feels being selective is the key to being competitive for at least the next 10 years.

'Wow!' - O'Sullivan, Selby and Murphy with Shot of the Tournament contenders

The Chigwell man is due face Stuart Carrington in the first round of the Northern Ireland Open at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast which begins on Saturday 9 October. Trump has curiously defeated O'Sullivan 9-7 in the past three finals of the event.
"I've got so much respect for him," said Trump on WST. "Every time I play him, it is always a special occasion.
To be honest, I think he can play the game until whenever he wants to. He is that good.
"The way he doesn't enter every event is only beneficial for him. He keeps the public wanting more and more. He doesn't give you too much in one go.
"So, just as you think he is getting a bit bored with snooker, he'll take that tournament off, he'll pull out. He knows he's not ready and I think he is very clever in that way.
"He'll always be the crowd favourite just because of how easy he makes the game look.
John Higgins is up there with him, but Ronnie just makes it looks so easy. I think that is what annoys the viewing public because he kind of looks invincible at times.
"When he doesn't win, they think he's not trying so he's built up this image that he can't be beat and it adds a lot of pressure to yourself I think."

Two incredible Judd Trump shots - but which was better?

At 44 years and 254 days, O'Sullivan became the oldest man to win the World Championship since Reardon (45 years and 203 days) in 1978 when he overcame Kyren Wilson 18-8 in Sheffield to lift his sixth Crucible title a year ago.
Trump admits the strain to keep producing under pressure means it is impossible to play in every tournament.
"Over the past two or three years when you keep winning events, you kind of see what he has been through," said Trump. "The past 15 years, the expectation he has had on himself.
I just think he knows what he is not ready to give it his all and he'll skip those events. For me, when he wants to stop playing, he'll stop playing, but he's good enough to be top 16 for at least another 10 years.
Trump lost his world number one spot to world champion Mark Selby after a two-year stay at the summit following his 3-2 defeat to Elliot Slessor in the last 32 of the British Open on the same day he turned 32.
He is set to reclaim top spot after the Northern Ireland Open with Selby set to lose £102,000 from his points tally on the two-year list, but Trump feels the ranking system puts far too much emphasis on earning £500,000 for lifting the world title.
Trump celebrated his first ranking event with a 10-8 win over Selby at the 2011 China Open.
He claimed his first eight in six years, but has lifted another 14 in the past four years in a remarkable period of consistency.
Trump totted up a record six in 2019/20 and another five during the pandemic in 2020/21, but is bemused about losing the top spot.
"Nobody has ever won six events in a year," said the 2019 world champion, who begins his bid for a fourth straight Northern Ireland title against Andrew Pagett in Belfast.
"The year before I won the Masters, the World Championship and another couple of events.
"Then the following year I won five events. There is always that comparison with Ronnie or the world champion about who is the best in the world.

Watch the moment Selby clinches fourth world title at Crucible

"But for me, I don't think you can compare winning the World Championship to winning six events in a year that nobody has ever done before.
"If somebody came up to me, and said to me: 'You've won the World Championship, but Mark Selby has won six or seven events, do you think you are the best in world?'
I'd say no. For me, Mark Selby would be the best in the world because he has shown it on a consistent level. The World Championship is a special event, but it is only one event.
"For me, it gets too much recognition just because of the prize money. In a dream scenario, there would be three or four events on that kind of level with that kind of prize money.
"It is too lopsided because the world champion is always going to be number one and for me to prevent that over the past two years is literally an impossible task."
The BetVictor Northern Ireland Open (9-17 October 2021) is the first of the 2021/22 season’s Home Nations events LIVE on Eurosport and Quest
Northern Ireland Open
O'Sullivan on 30 years at top: 'I feel privileged to have had the opportunities'
03/09/2021 AT 10:44
Northern Ireland Open
Lines facing probe amid claims he challenged Xiao Guodong to a fight
31/08/2021 AT 18:32