SNOOKER legend Ronnie O’Sullivan has hailed York star Ashley Hugill as “the most improved player on the circuit”.

O’Sullivan ended Hugill’s run of upsets at the BetVictor European Masters with a 5-2 win at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.

Up to that point, world number 81 Hugill had caused two major shocking, beating top 20 seeds Jack Lisowski and Ali Carter to reach a career-best last 16 spot at the ranking event.

Following his victory, six-time world champion O’Sullivan was gushing in his praise of Hugill’s ability.

“He’s a great guy, I really like Ashley,” said O’Sullivan. “He’s a top guy and he plays the game in the right spirit.

“He’s probably the most improved player I’ve seen on the circuit, bar none.

“I wasn’t surprised when he gave Ali Carter a good hiding and I wouldn’t have been surprised had he given me a good hiding.

“He’s a really, really good player and a really good lad, I like him.

“He hits the ball fantastically well, a little bit like Anthony Hamilton, and he’s only 27.

“He’s another guy who I like watching. He played in Leicester (at the British Open) and he played a great game.

“I was like ‘Wow, I really enjoy his style of play’.”

Hugill is next on the table on Monday at the qualification stages of the Welsh Open against last year’s Masters champion Yan Bingtao.