Ronnie O'Sullivan is never far from the limelight but a calamitous break-off shot at the Northern Ireland Open left onlookers scratching their heads on Wednesday.

O'Sullivan - a five-time world champion - is a player who transcends snooker with his combination of supreme skill and his occasionally controversial behaviour on and off the table.

The fact he is considered by many as the greatest to ever play the game makes Wednesday's mishap in Belfast all the more baffling.

Breaking off in the third frame of his second-round clash with China's Mei Xiwen, O'Sullivan hit the blue ball direct from the break off, having attempted an unorthodox cross-table shot.

The Englishman could perhaps blame the incident on fatigue, after winning the Champion of Champions in Coventry on Sunday before kicking off his Northern Ireland campaign with a 4-0 win against Soheil Vahedi of Iran.

O'Sullivan returned to his seat chuckling and went on to progress with a 4-1 victory, setting up a third-round match with Tom Ford.