Stuart Bingham believes Ronnie O'Sullivan has finally overtaken seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry as snooker's undisputed greatest player of all time.
The 2015 world champion has revised his views on the GOAT debate after O'Sullivan claimed his sixth world title and record 37th ranking event a year ago – one clear of Hendry's 36 won between 1987 and 2005 – since turning professional in 1992.
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Bingham had felt Hendry's seven Crucible victories between 1990 and 1999 gave him the edge over his fellow Essex icon, but is convinced O'Sullivan has earned the GOAT status after breaking almost all of the major records in the game on the cusp of 30 years at the snooker summit.
O'Sullivan needs one more world title to match Hendry's record after joining Steve Davis and Ray Reardon on six world titles in the modern era.
“My hero was Steve Davis,” said Bingham on the Talking Snooker podcast.
Growing up watching Stephen Hendry play, I always thought he was the best ever, but with Ronnie surpassing records after records, I’d say Ronnie is definitely number one.
“I’d say Hendry is two, John Higgins is three, Steve Davis is four..and I’m not sure about five..maybe Judd (Trump), or even Mark Selby, they are sort of joint-fifth."
The 2020 Masters champion overcame Davis in all their six meetings between 2004 and 2014, but the six-times world champion was past his 1980s prime and in the death throes of his career.
Bingham famously overcame the defending champion Hendry 10-7 in the first round of the 2000 World Championship with the Scotsman making a 147 in a 10-4 win over Bingham at the same stage of the 2012 Sheffield event.
Bingham rates Davis fourth in his all-time list with Hendry dropping to second, but remaining just ahead of Higgins, world champion in 1998, 2007, 2009 and 2011.
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He feels world champion Mark Selby, who defeated Bingham 17-15 in an epic world semi-final in April, and the prolific 22-times ranking winner Trump should be rated as joint-fifth on the GOAT list.
“With the tournaments now, people always say that Hendry or Davis didn’t have all these tournaments, but I remember looking back at an old Pot Black magazine and they still had 15 tournaments a year," said Bingham.
“Some people say that Judd has 25 tournaments, so it’s unfair with the hundred breaks and stuff like that.
Ronnie obviously picks and chooses, and that maybe makes it even more special that he has got to a thousand centuries and the other records he’s beat.
“But I’m sure in five years time Judd will be beating Ronnie’s records, so we’ll see for the future.”
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Stuart Bingham's GOAT top five
- 1. Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng)
- 2. Stephen Hendry (Sco)
- 3. John Higgins (Sco)
- 4. Steve Davis (Eng)
- 5. Judd Trump and Mark Selby (Eng)
The Northern Ireland Open is the third ranking event of the season and is LIVE on Eurosport and Quest between October 9-17 as part of the Home Nations Series including the English Open, Scottish Open and Welsh Open
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