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."
|Real Madrid v Liverpool: Salah, Ronaldo lead the line in combined XI|
|Bertens keeps hat-trick hopes alive in Nuremberg|
|Monfils and Mannarino fail to fly the flag in Lyon|
|Morata, Fabregas, Herrera and more in Spain´s World Cup rejects XI|
|Reina to face FIGC hearing|
|Emery set to be appointed by Arsenal - reports|
|LeBron ´appreciative´ of hometown effort to put up statue of him|
|Cazorla leaves Arsenal after injury nightmare|
|Derby´s Rowett seeks permission for Stoke talks|
|Messi physically and mentally ready for the World Cup, Sampaoli proclaims|
|Murray expected to return at Rosmalen Grass Court Championships|
|More to Madrid than just Ronaldo - Robertson|
|Wolff: Red Bull and Ferrari favourites in Monaco|
|Iniesta hailed by Xavi as ´the most talented player in the history of Spain´|
|If you Googled ´European nights´, Liverpool would be top result - Klopp|
|Icardi cut from Argentina World Cup squad|
|Test recall a ´fantastic surprise´ for Buttler|
|Klopp needs Premier League to be a Liverpool great – Johnston|
|Salah is ´definitely´ world´s best - Lovren|
|Rhinos captain Watkins ruled out for eight months|
|No clue - Klopp defiant over Can to Juventus claims|
|Younis tips Babar for Pakistan greatness|
|Germany squad numbers hint at World Cup good news for Neuer|
|WATCH: Moto3 rider makes spectacular jump over crashed rival|
|Leaving out Morata ´painful´ for Spain boss Lopetegui|
|Gustard to leave England role for Harlequins|
|Nainggolan retires from Belgium duty after World Cup snub|
|Spain striker Morata misses out on World Cup selection|
|LeBron or Kawhi could lead Lakers to the Finals - World Peace|
|Serena steps up Roland Garros training ahead of French Open|
|Nainggolan left out of Belgium´s World Cup squad|
|The long goodbye: Iniesta sits alone in Camp Nou after final Barcelona match|
|Wane to leave Warriors at end of season|
|Dr Fury will see you now - Tyson plans future career in medicine|
|Harden, D´Antoni rue ´soft´ Rockets performance in Warriors drubbing|
|Liverpool players can change their lives in Kiev, says Gerrard|
|Real Madrid v Liverpool: Can great deeds of the past fuel the bid for Champions League glory?|
|Wash your mouth out! - Curry´s expletive outburst earns scolding from mother|
|Rakitic lost for words as Iniesta heads for Barcelona exit|
|Conte: Chelsea must overhaul squad to change style|
|Johnston: Liverpool can´t lose Suarez, Coutinho and Salah!|
|Messi: I like Griezmann, he´s one of the best|
|Ohtani says he´s not good enough for Home Run Derby yet|
|Mendy: France are eyeing World Cup glory|
|Scott accepts two-week ban for Walker punch|
|Braves rally for six runs in the ninth to defeat Marlins|
|MLS Review: Red Bulls upstage Atlanta thanks to Wright-Phillips brace|
|Warriors breeze past Rockets in game three|
|We have a quality squad – Man City chairman hints at caution in transfer market|
|Wise cruises to maiden PGA Tour victory at Byron Nelson|
|Matic: United can fight for Premier League and Champions League with experience|
|Golden Knights GM on Stanley Cup Finals berth: I don´t know how we did it|
|I did a ´s*** job´ defending LeBron James – Morris|
|Dembele suffers sprained right ankle|
|We know Fellaini´s not going to renew with United – Mirabelli suggests Milan move|
|Cavs´ Lue not satisfied with just one win|
|They even whistled at Torres – Simeone backs Griezmann|
|I arrived as a boy, I leave as a man – Iniesta in emotional Barcelona farewell|
|Lingard: Wembley loss my worst feeling in football|
|Cahill: Conte uncertainty affecting Chelsea|
|Sarri has run out of time – Napoli chief De Laurentiis|
|Barca boss Valverde salutes departing Iniesta|
|I feel like I´ve been run over by a truck or had 15 pints - Crutchlow|
|Four sent off as Ajaccio win chaotic Le Havre play-off on penalties|
|Sweden win shoot-out to retain world title|
|De Vrij penalty was destiny for Inter - Icardi|
|PSG? Maybe one day - Pogba coy over long-term future at Manchester United|
|Messi wins fifth European Golden Shoe|
|Gattuso calls for more malice at Milan|
|Barcelona 1 Real Sociedad 0: Coutinho stunner lights up Iniesta´s farewell|