World Snooker Championship Date:
18 April-4 May Venue:
Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Coverage:
Live coverage each day on BBC Two, BBC Red Button and BBC Sport website (UK only), updates on BBC Radio 5 Live.
Stuttering O'Sullivan suffers shock exit
Mark Allen produced a superb display in the final session to seal a 13-11 win that ends Ronnie O'Sullivan's hopes of defending his world title.
O'Sullivan resumed the second-round tie 9-7 up, but an inspired Allen took the opening three frames to edge ahead.
The misfiring world number one looked to be on for a 147 maximum break in the next, but broke down on 105 to level.
After the next two frames were shared, Northern Ireland's Allen held his nerve to seal the biggest win of his career.
Allen, who will meet either Ryan Day or Nigel Bond in the quarter-finals, had heaped pressure on himself before the match by insisting he was capable of beating the three-time world champion, despite the bookmakers making him a clear underdog.
"A lot of people play Ronnie and they don't think they're capable of winning," he said after his first-round win over Martin Gould.
I knew I could win - Allen
"I know that I'm capable of winning, it's just a matter of going out there and proving it on the day. Ronnie is favourite for many reasons, but favourites don't always win."
He lived up to his prediction, showing admirable coolness as the match reached its critical stage, and now looks to be a genuine contender to succeed O'Sullivan as world champion.
O'Sullivan certainly rated his opponent's chances of lifting the trophy in Sheffield, but he was less than impressed with his own form.
"He played brilliantly - if he keeps on playing like that he's got a great chance of winning the tournament," said O'Sullivan.
"But I half expected that. I didn't expect to get through my first round, to be honest. I'm not surprised - I think anyone would have beaten me playing on that type of form.
"I can't imagine he'll be jumping around and doing cartwheels after beating me with the way I played - I was very poor but that's the way it goes.
"If I'd have been 11-5 up I'd have still felt quite negative about it because I wasn't playing any good. It's not nice to play like that, but you just have to get on with it.
"Even if I'd have got through that one, it would have been the next match."
But O'Sullivan did find some solace in the chance to spend some time with his father, who is coming to the end of a long prison sentence and is being allowed short periods with his family to help readjust.
"I might watch some on TV, go home and see my kids, I've got my dad coming out so I've got all that to look forward to," he said.
"I'm excited about spending some time with my dad."
Allen, the world number 16 hit the ground running in the concluding session, making breaks of 59 and 69 to take the first two frames as O'Sullivan struggled to find top gear.
An O'Sullivan miss allowed Allen back into the frame in the next, and he took full advantage, taking it on a respotted black to really put the pressure on his illustrious opponent.
O'Sullivan showed his class in the last frame before the mid-session interval, sweeping to 105 with 14 reds and 13 blacks before missing a tricky black with his left hand with a maximum on the cards.
But the classy break was not the start of a sustained O'Sullivan fightback as Allen made runs of 47 and 36 to go 11-10 ahead.
O'Sullivan 'searching for reasons to play on'
O'Sullivan capitalised on an Allen in-off with a 67 to level again, and looked set to impose himself as he quickly moved 37-0 ahead in the next - but a missed black off the spot proved pivotal.
Allen calmly knocked in a break of 80 to leave himself on the brink, and he moved into the quarter-finals with aplomb after taking advantage of O'Sullivan's errors to take the last in two visits.
"To play one of your heroes at The Crucible was a dream come true, and that inspired me," the 23-year-old told BBC Radio 5 Live.
"A lot of people might have crumbled but I loved every minute of it. Even when Ronnie was making breaks I was thinking 'I'll get him next time'.
"That's what you play snooker for: playing the best players in the world, and I'm pleased I performed under pressure."
O'Sullivan had been attempting to become the first player to make a successful defence of his title since Stephen Hendry in 1996.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.