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."
|England captain Hartley ready for return|
|Buttler happy to serve up a century as England dig in at Trent Bridge|
|PSV beat BATE in Champions League thriller, Benfica held at home|
|Mkhitaryan backs Emery´s philosophy at Arsenal|
|Championship Review: Leeds go top, QPR problems mount|
|Ronaldo shares snap of ´Juventus family´|
|Aguero is the Premier League´s best foreign import, says Shearer|
|Real Madrid warned they must pay Rodrigo´s €120m release clause|
|England´s Broad fined for Pant rant|
|India on brink of victory after brilliant Bumrah halts Buttler|
|Serena Williams elevated to 17th seed at US Open|
|Kombouare signs new two-year Guingamp contract|
|Scaloni unclear on Messi´s long-term Argentina plans|
|F1 Raceweek: Gasly and Alonso restore focus at Spa|
|Nouri able to communicate, brother reveals|
|Pjanic extends Juventus contract to 2023|
|Odegaard joins Vitesse in latest loan from Real Madrid|
|Luck ´sort of happy´ with sack from Suggs|
|Manchester United´s Sanchez will ´be back soon´|
|Former Giants star Cruz announces retirement|
|RFU set Cipriani disciplinary date despite RPA complaints|
|Spalletti fined €10,000 for ´gravely offensive´ referee comments|
|IndyCar driver Wickens has spinal surgery after Pocono crash|
|Tiger: No doubt this is one of my best years|
|Vice-captain Tiger trying to remain objective in Ryder Cup conversations|
|Ronaldo won´t win Serie A by himself, warns Allan|
|Moeen sends message to England selectors with double century|
|Brunt calls time on Northern Ireland career|
|Tottenham´s Janssen sidelined after foot surgery|
|Liu Xiang breaks women´s 50m backstroke world record at Asian Games|
|Atletico Madrid winger Vitolo suffers knee ligament damage|
|Leverkusen teen Havertz aiming to emulate idol Ozil|
|Beckham to be honoured with UEFA President´s Award|
|CPS drops Hillsborough charges against Bettison|
|Who can take over from Federer, Nadal & Djokovic? Agassi backs Zverev, Kyrgios|
|´Freak incident´ rules Dragons´ Vaughan out for season|
|Kompany: Different Manchester City must not be complacent|
|Toyota withdraw appeal over Alonso´s Silverstone disqualification|
|Manchester City offload defender Denayer to Lyon|
|RPA want RFU to drop Cipriani charge|
|Cheika still the right man for Australia - Polota-Nau|
|Bolt not giving up on Manchester United dream|
|All Blacks must improve ´average´ set-piece, says Smith|
|Raiola hits back at Scholes following Pogba criticism|
|Indians top Red Sox in series opener|
|Struff stuns Cecchinato, Jarry reaches last 16|
|I´ll prove people wrong - Bolt completes first Mariners training session|
|Former champ Kvitova tops Radwanska, Pliskova ousted|
|Sad if it´s Filipe Luis´ last game for Atletico - Oblak|
|White Sox manager Rick Renteria hospitalised before game|
|Carragher: Van Dijk can become Liverpool legend|
|No timetable for Sale return from shoulder injury|
|This is a partnership - Rodgers on contract negotiations with Packers|
|Eagles QB Wentz unsure he´ll be cleared to play opener|
|Balotelli staying at Nice|
|It wasn´t a penalty, says Hodgson as Palace boss fumes at refereeing decisions|
|Salah can play much better - Klopp demands more from Liverpool star|
|Gasly to Red Bull: Vettel, Verstappen and the drivers who took their Toro Rosso chance|
|Klopp in the dark on Karius future amid links to Besiktas|
|Simeone pleased with draw after rigours of Super Cup|
|Captain Reus saves Dortmund in DFB-Pokal|
|I couldn´t care less - Klopp rejects title challenge talk|
|Ailing Bairstow keen to aid England´s unlikely victory bid at Trent Bridge|
|Redskins secure Peterson signing|
|Manchester City goalkeeper Bravo suffers ruptured Achilles|
|Crystal Palace 0 Liverpool 2: Milner and Mane secure victory at Selhurst Park|
|Whyte takes aim at ´coward´ Fury ahead of Wilder showdown|
|Jets delighted with Darnold, open to trading Bridgewater|
|Gasly to replace Ricciardo at Red Bull|
|Valencia 1 Atletico Madrid 1: Rodrigo strikes to deny Simeone´s side|