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."
|Liverpool chairman Werner promises Klopp transfer funds|
|Pakistan´s Babar ruled out of England series|
|Gudjohnsen tips Madrid to beat Liverpool, despite star trio|
|It does something to you - Van Dijk reveals why he joined Liverpool|
|Gleyber Torres makes history as Yankees beat Angels|
|MLS Review: LA Galaxy edge San Jose Earthquakes in California Clasico|
|Real Madrid v Liverpool: Who will win the Champions League final?|
|LeBron James saves Cavaliers from elimination|
|Peru FA president weighs in on Paolo Guerrero´s drugs ban appeal|
|Jurgen Klopp calls for ´big balls´ from Liverpool|
|Kevin Love ruled out of Game 6 for Cavaliers after concussion|
|Prescott says Cowboys don´t need top receiver|
|MLB extends Roberto Osuna´s administrative leave for third time|
|Rose shoots 64 to take Fort Worth lead|
|James Harden not worried about shooting struggles|
|Green: Spurs star Leonard wants to stay in San Antonio|
|Griezmann could help Barcelona a lot, says Umtiti|
|Moyano hat-trick helps Jaguares sink 14-man Sharks|
|Mbappe rejected Real Madrid for PSG - Monaco´s Vasilyev|
|Rovers rock Warriors as Wolves bite back to see off Hull|
|Thiem through in Lyon as Fucsovics closes in on historic first title|
|Hughes signs three-year Southampton deal|
|Barty suffers injury scare in Strasbourg|
|Ruthless Montpellier overpower Lyon to reach Top 14 final|
|Rabiot hits out at Deschamps criticism|
|Low: Messi more complete than Ronaldo|
|Marvellous McIlroy moves three clear at Wentworth|
|Brighton confirm deal for Deportivo striker Andone|
|No offers for Lyon captain Fekir, Aulas claims|
|Pakistan turn the screw to frustrate England at Lord´s|
|Rashid leaves Knight Riders in the shade as Sunrisers reach IPL final|
|Madrid not favourites for Champions League final - Zidane|
|Don´t compare Salah to Messi and Ronaldo, says Ramos. They´re in a different orbit!|
|Van Dijk: Liverpool is my team, Anfield is my home|
|Ronaldo at ´140 per cent´ is good enough for Zidane|
|People like to talk - Marcelo responds to misquoted Klopp|
|French Open 2018: Hopes of sensational Serena success raised by Roland Garros draw|
|Houston Rockets without Chris Paul for game six|
|Ostapenko used to life in the spotlight ahead of French Open defence|
|Red Sox designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment|
|Liverpool motivated by Europa League pain - Henderson|
|Reus relishing Favre reunion at Borussia Dortmund|
|Phenomenal Froome claims stunning Giro lead as Yates capitulates|
|Bertens, Kontaveit and Kasatkina – Can Ostapenko´s Roland Garros fairytale be matched?|
|Klopp less excited about second final appearance|
|It´s funny if two managers in the final have no clue about tactics - Klopp defends Zidane|
|Salah´s long-term potential ´not important´, says focused Klopp|
|It´s kind of unreal - Kvitova surprised by her success ahead of French Open return|
|Man United and Real Madrid favourite Beckham begs Zidane to beat Liverpool|
|Storm and Raiders snatch dramatic wins|
|Boateng desperate for ´best in the world´ Neuer to play|
|Great players have to play here - Real Madrid´s Marcelo continues Neymar courtship|
|Salah can win Ballon d´Or with Champions League triumph, says Luiz|
|Roland Garros wins ´exactly the same´ for Nadal regardless of Federer involvement|
|Rebels romp past Sunwolves, Crusaders retain top spot|
|Halep ´stronger mentally´ as she seeks first grand slam title|
|Cipriani on bench for Baa Baas clash|
|Ronaldo´s rival Salah shifts focus back to Liverpool versus Real Madrid|
|Two arrested in Kiev after clashes before Champions League final|
|Johnny Nelson leads tributes after death of Brendan Ingle|
|Batshuayi puts off Chelsea plans until after World Cup|
|Devon Smith back in Windies squad, Hamilton earns maiden call-up|
|Thiago hints at uncertain Bayern Munich future|
|Dhananjaya pulls out of Windies tour following death of father|
|I feel great - Kerr keeps faith with Warriors on the brink|
|Ronaldo: I can´t be compared with Salah|
|Buffon agent backs Paris Saint-Germain move|
|ICC confirms smart watches prohibited|
|Real Madrid v Liverpool: Champions League final in Opta numbers|
|Mane sends 300 Liverpool shirts to Senegal village for Champions League final|