It’s impossible to dominate snooker, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try
By Ronnie O’Sullivan
Ronnie O’Sullivan is relishing his first major tournament appearance when he faces Mark Williams at the Masters next month. He continues to strive for perfection despite admitting that snooker is a game that is impossible to dominate. In his final blog of 2015, the five-times world champion tells Desmond Kane why he is happy to be back playing despite a weekend defeat in the German Masters.
I don’t feel that I’ve played well since winning the Welsh Open in 2014. Since then, I have struggled to find any good form apart from beating Judd Trump to win the Champion of Champions trophy last November. Other than that, my game has been poor really. Even when winning the UK Championship last year, I fell over the line in three or four matches there which is not a good sign.
After this year’s World Championship where I put in another below par performance in losing to Stuart (Bingham) in the last eight in April, I truly believed my best days were behind me. My game has not been strong enough to dominate games like I used to. I’ve lost too many matches to suggest otherwise. That’s the reason I’ve been reluctant to play any big competitions this season. I’ve instead opted to do some exhibitions as I still feel I have a love for the game, but there is a part of me that wants to see if I can find some form again from somewhere. I’m not going to try the instant success train of thought, I’m going to see how the next year pans out and take it from there.
It’s more about trying to compete, and also having the schedule I’m happy with. I have to make sure it’s not the be all and end all, although I do love to play well. There’s no feeling like it. It was hard trying to practice while the other guys were at competitions, I felt like I was missing out, so I know it’s important to stay busy while the guys are playing in events that I’m not in. I mean, when you think of it, it’s not an easy task to try to win competitions and trophies when you have a very strong batch of players in their prime.
‘Mark Selby is the only player who can win when not at his best’
Neil Robertson, Judd Trump, Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, Ding Junhui, Mark Allen, Kyren Wilson, John Higgins and Stephen Maguire…the list goes on and, and I’m sorry if I’ve missed anyone out, but it is scary. You really have to be on your top game to win.
You only have to look at John Higgins this season. He is more than good enough to win competitions, but he did go nearly two years without a win, which just goes to show you how tough it is to collect trophies. The only player that can win without being at his best is Selby. I believe everyone else has to feel good about their game to win. Otherwise, it’s quarter-finals and semis at best. Playing your B game is not going to win you events. It just won’t do anymore, there’s too many players capable of playing to a very high standard. It’s a tough school.
I will try to play some more events over the next few months. I don’t know yet what they will be, but I will play the events I enjoy playing in. The events I chose to play in may or may not be the ones everyone expects me to play. It’s more about feeding my desire to want to play and compete as much as possible.
One good thing that has come out of the past six months is that I have embraced the exhibition circuit. If I can marry the major competitions and the exhibitions that will be great. We have had so much fun, I will continue to do that as I get a bit of everything from them.
I get to get away, which I love to do, and I get to play in front of some very enthusiastic crowds, and it’s also a break from the seriousness and intensity of the major events. One thing that has concerned me is my back, I had a herniated disc in my back. I done this on October 13th and since then I’ve not been able to play properly, so that is a bit of a concern, but I’m hopeful it’s nothing serious, and that my game will come back to a decent level. If not, I’m in trouble. But like I said, I don’t want to panic about the situation, it’s important to take my time and try to enjoy the process, and do my best, and see what develops. The one good thing is that I don’t feel like all my eggs are in one basket. I do have other options which I enjoy.
‘There is always punditry if other players are too good for me’
The work with Eurosport is great, and that continues to get better and better. The exhibitions will allow me to stay busy while the other guys are playing in events that doesn’t fit into my schedule.
I will give it my best shot, and see where it takes me. And if I’m not winning, you will see me sitting on the couch with Jimmy White as Eurosport pundits. I must admit, snooker is so easy when you are sitting watching it. It’s so easy to think players should not miss, but snooker is not always that easy a game.
Finally, I’d like to wish all the readers of my blog, supporters and snooker fans a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year in 2016.