Ronnie O’Sullivan says the Betfred World Championship is the pinnacle of snooker but reckons it remains a ‘Primark’ sport.

The world No.6 is ramping up preparations for the upcoming tournament at the Crucible, bidding to add to his previous five world titles secured between 2001 and 2013.

And the event will be one of the highest-profile sporting events to be televised since the coronavirus-enforced lay-off, presenting an opportunity for the sport to attract new viewers given the absence of the Olympic Games, Euro 2020 and other major competitions.

O’Sullivan knows the Betfred World Championship is snooker at its finest but is cautious to predict whether the tournament will attract new followers.

“Whether it’s as special [this year] I don’t know - I haven’t got my crystal ball but hopefully it’ll be a good event,” the 44-year-old said.

“I think as a viewing thing, people will enjoy watching snooker - snooker fans just like watching snooker at the end of the day and they will watch it whether there’s a crowd or not.

“And the World Championships is interesting because every game becomes competitive, and I think that people who are watching snooker and have watched snooker for years just want to see a 50/50 match.

“I call it a Primark sport in many ways because that’s what it is - a lot of snooker fans enjoy watching snooker and that’s great, and they’ll always watch snooker.

“But as far as ‘can snooker take this opportunity because a lot of other sport are not there?’ as soon as the other sports come back to the fore everything will just go back to it’s natural order again.

“Everyone was like ‘snooker’s the first sport on TV!’ but was it really that much of a big deal? Do you know what I mean? Not really.”

Snooker returned behind closed doors with the recent Championship League in Milton Keynes, a tournament won by world No.37 Luca Brecel who sprung a surprise on the eve of the Crucible.

That was a tournament entered by 64 players, while 128 potters enter the Home Nations competitions that are played in quick-fire formats over a week before whittling down to a winner.

The Championship League was followed by the Tour Championship at the same venue, a competition entered by just the world’s best 16 players across the last calendar year.

O’Sullivan failed to qualify for that event - he was ranked 18th at the cut-off date — but says it’s those events that the fans really want to see.

“I think the tournaments that most people enjoy watching as the fans are the events where you get the 32 best players playing each other, so every match is interesting and you’ve got the best 16,” he added.

“They don’t really want to see a Judd Trump bashing someone up in 20 minutes playing club players, basically.

“They want to see a Judd Trump playing a John Higgins or someone who can give him a proper game, you know?”

Live snooker returns to Eurosport and the Eurosport app. Watch the World Championship from 31st July – 16th August with analysis from Jimmy White.