O'Sullivan will face Mark Williams in the last-eight at the Crucible following a 13-10 win over Ding Junhui on Sunday.
UK Championship
UK Championship LIVE - Higgins back in action after O'Sullivan win
But when asked if he was surprised that he and Williams are still among the game's brightest talents, over 25 years after making their debuts, O'Sullivan responded with a broadside against the younger generation.
"If you asked me then (if I thought I'd still be at this level), then no," O'Sullivan told the BBC. "But if you like at the standard of play then I’d say yes – for people like me and John (Higgins) and Mark (Williams).
"If you like at the younger players coming through, they’re not that good really. Most of them they’d probably do well as half-decent amateurs, not even amateurs they’re so bad.
A lot of them you see now, you think ‘I’d probably have to lose an arm and a leg to fall outside the top 50'.
"So that’s really why we’re still hovering around, because of just how poor it is."

Classy century from Ronnie O'Sullivan shows 'The Rocket' at his clinical best against Ding Junhui

O'Sullivan's comments about the younger players wasn't his only criticism after the Ding match. The Rocket also had something to say about the usual atmosphere at the Crucible and how difficult it can make it for the players between matches.
"It’s better with the fans, of course it is, it’s like playing in a morgue out there," he said. "I’ve got one friend sitting up in the balcony, that sort of thing. But honestly it could have the fans and also be able to get in and out of the tournament. It’s got a bit of a village feel at the minute, the players are much more relaxed.
For the top players it can be a nightmare usually this tournament, it can put you off actually wanting to come here – I’d rather go and play in Crawley, that’s how bad it is.

Crucible Quarter-Final Line-Up

  • Judd Trump v Kyren Wilson
  • Mark Selby v Neil Robertson
  • Kurt Maflin v McGill/Clarke
  • Mark Williams v Ronnie O'Sullivan
UK Championship
'He's too good' - O'Sullivan offers help 'free of charge' to beaten White
25/11/2021 AT 09:26
UK Championship
'Anybody hurt?' - O'Sullivan smashes cue ball to scatter reds
24/11/2021 AT 23:01