Ronnie O'Sullivan's attendance at the World Snooker Championship was never in doubt, according to his rivals for the Crucible crown.
O'Sullivan has repeatedly threatened to skip this year's event in Sheffield to focus on his television career, branding the competition "boring" at one stage.
However, 'the Rocket' will be in attendance for a tournament that could see him equal the six world titles of Steve Davis and Ray Reardon, as well as surpass the 18 major wins amassed by Stephen Hendry.
"He was always going to be here, of course he was," 2010 world champion Neil Robertson told Omnisport.
"You look at what Tiger Woods' return did for the Masters, you had sports fans who don't really have much interest in golf watching it.
"Players like Ronnie O'Sullivan do that for snooker. He is the figurehead of the sport. What Tiger Woods is to golf and Roger Federer is to tennis, that's the way it is, and he's earned that right through a couple of decades of unbelievable success.
"A tournament's always worse off if Ronnie's not participating in it."
Defending champion Mark Selby echoed those comments by stressing it would be unthinkable for O'Sullivan - who begins his campaign against Stephen Maguire on Saturday - to stay away.
"He's had a fantastic season and this is the tournament he bases his season around," said Selby, who beat John Higgins in last year's final to claim his third Crucible title.
"When he was saying he might not play in it, it never really crossed my mind that he wouldn't play.
"I'm glad he is playing in it because as a fellow pro you want the best players in the tournament.
"If you go on to win the tournament, you want the top players in it, and Ronnie's definitely the top player."
And Mark Allen, who beat O'Sullivan on his way to winning snooker's Masters tournament in January, believes the 42-year-old knows exactly what he is doing when he feeds controversial lines to the media.
"As much as he doesn't like saying it, he loves competing," said the Northern Irishman.
"Ronnie can make the game look ridiculously easy at times and make the rest of us look a little bit stupid. But he's an absolute genius.
"Ronnie's incredibly smart in what he does. I think some of the things he says in interviews take a lot of pressure off him, because people think he doesn't care.
"But deep down he knows that he does. He doesn't get the credit he deserves for how smart he is in some of the things that he says."
23 de mayo 2018
|Benitez: Winning Champions League changed my life|
|Brewers extend Diamondbacks´ losing streak to six|
|Weidenfeller bids farewell in Schmelzer´s last game as Dortmund captain|
|Owen surprised by Zidane success|
|Rockets break Warriors´ 16-game home postseason win streak|
|Bennett keen to see out contract as Broncos target Bellamy|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Silva helps Cruzeiro into last 16|
|Chargers tight end Henry suffers torn ACL|
|WATCH: Harden dunks all over Green|
|Madrid are linked to 50 players – Ronaldo laughs off Neymar rumours|
|Giants sign wide receiver Shepard|
|Salah wouldn´t improve Real Madrid – Del Bosque|
|Stevens says Tatum should´ve been unanimous All-Rookie First Team selection|
|Rodgers on Bryant: If he ends up here, we´ll welcome him|
|Jets´ Hackenberg dealt to Raiders for 2019 conditional pick|
|Mets sign Bautista, start him same day|
|Warriors´ Iguodala ruled out for game four|
|Guzman called up as Romero replacement for Argentina|
|Gaya signs new five-year Valencia contract|
|Celta appoint Antonio Mohamed as new coach|
|Klopp: Real Madrid have no weaknesses|
|Strauss ´stepping away´ from England role to support wife|
|Argentina rule Romero out of World Cup|
|Emery´s website appears to confirm Arsenal appointment|
22 de mayo 2018
|´Inspiring´ Guardiola has made Fleetwood a better golfer|
|Two trophies in a week! Torres leaves Atletico Madrid in style|
|I died a thousand deaths - Yates set for Giro defensive after time trial|
|Hamsik hints at Napoli exit amid China rumours|
|Rowett swaps Derby for Stoke|
|Thiem comfortable in victory as rain delays Wawrinka|
|Schmelzer gives up Borussia Dortmund captaincy|
|Top seed Stephens struggling at Nuremberg Cup|
|This is the wrong information - Vieira rejects Nice speculation|
|France rest Guirado, recall Thomas for New Zealand tour|
|Warriors´ Iguodala upgraded to questionable for game four|
|Simmons, Mitchell unanimous picks for NBA All-Rookie first team|
|AC Milan referred over alleged FFP breaches|
|F1 Raceweek: Ferrari and Red Bull target Monaco upturn|
|Horoya 2 Mamelodi Sundowns 2: Camara header denies visitors´ comeback|
|Du Plessis rescue mission takes Super Kings to IPL final|
|Seedorf to leave relegated Deportivo|
|Wenger turned down Real Madrid ´two or three times´|
|Kane dreams of lifting World Cup trophy as England captain|
|UEFA opens disciplinary proceedings against Liverpool & Roma|
|Yates stays on course for Giro title, Dennis wins time trial|
|Brighton sign Nigeria international Balogun|
|Ronaldo again pips LeBron and Messi as sport´s most famous star|
|Marcelo fears backlash if Madrid lose Champions League final|
|Messi joins Argentina´s World Cup training camp|
|FIFA finds no doping cases in Russia´s World Cup squad|
|Liverpool´s strikeforce reminds Ronaldo of Real Madrid|
|Hysaj staying at Napoli ´regardless of Sarri´s future´|
|Amir fully fit for Lord´s Test|
|A fast start to life - The Golden Knights and the expansion teams who excelled early|
|Molina gets two-year anti-doping ban for positive test after Joshua bout|
|Ramos: We´re a vintage Real Madrid team|
|Klopp key to controlling Liverpool emotions, says Alonso|
|Bjorn names Westwood, Harrington, Donald and McDowell as Europe vice-captains|
|Scarlets players left wounded by ´shocking´ Scotstoun pitch|
|Arsenal fined £20,000 for Leicester penalty protest|
|Storm offer Bellamy ´significant´ deal amid reported Broncos interest|
|Rashford writes moving tribute on anniversary of Manchester Arena attack|
|Heaton backs Kane´s captaincy credentials|
|Salah deserves Ballon d´Or if Liverpool win Champions League – Owen|
|Wasps flanker Willis out for up to a year|
|Real Madrid v Liverpool: Is the Champions League enough to save Zidane?|
|I was left out on reputation - Nainggolan angered by World Cup snub|
|Pellegrini targets Europe with West Ham|
|Lopetegui extends Spain contract|
|Edinburgh-bound Barclay´s Scarlets career over following Achilles surgery|