Ronnie won his opening match at the English Open 2018 today, beating Kurt Maflin by 4-1. This earned him his first ranking points this season. Here are the frame scores:
Ronnie wasn’t at his absolute best but played well considering he’s not played much this season at all. He certainly isn’t match-sharp just yet but should improve as he plays more matches.
Tournament and match preview:
And Andy Goldstein couldn’t resist: he had to mention their “Olympics”!
Other than the postmatch there was also another interview with Eurosport that they shared on their website
Ronnie, however, was far from happy with the venue, as you can read in this article by the BBC
Ronnie O’Sullivan: Defending champion critical of English Open venue
Ronnie O’Sullivan has described the venue for this year’s English Open as “a hellhole” and urged World Snooker to spend more money on tournament hosts.
The five-time world champion, 42, won his first-round match at the K2 Leisure Centre in Crawley against Kurt Maflin but was unhappy with conditions.
“It’s such a bad venue, it demotivates you to want to play. This is about as bad as I’ve ever seen,” he said.
World Snooker said other players’ feedback was “overwhelmingly positive”.
O’Sullivan is the defending English Open champion, having beaten Kyren Wilson in Barnsley in 2017.
But after defeating world number 50 Maflin in just over an hour, he did not hold back on his thoughts on the Sussex venue.
“I don’t know what this gaff is but I’ve just done an interview and all I can smell is urine,” he added.
“It’s just got no atmosphere in there. I’m practising and I’ve got wires all around the table. There’s no security, you’ve got people running at you left, right and centre.
“It’s not the fans’ fault. They [World Snooker] obviously haven’t got the budget to run it properly.
“I don’t know where their budget is but they’re cutting corners. I think they should invest in good venues. Players deserve better.”
A statement from World Snooker said: “We are surprised to hear these comments from Ronnie given that he has made no formal complaint and the feedback from the other players has been overwhelmingly positive.
“The partners we are working with on the event agree with our view that K2 Crawley is an excellent venue with very good facilities.”
And here is part of the interview…
After those comments, Worldsnooker responded with this statement
In response to comments from Ronnie O’Sullivan at the BetVictor English Open on Monday, World Snooker said: “We are surprised to hear these comments from Ronnie given that he has made no formal complaint and the feedback from the other players has been overwhelmingly positive. And the partners we are working with on the event agree with our view that K2 Crawley is an excellent venue with very good facilities. There was a fantastic crowd in the arena today and the ticket sales for the event have already surpassed the total sales for 2016 and 2017. We look forward to seeing Ronnie play in the next round.”
K2 Crawley, the host venue for the tournament, added: “We are sorry and disappointed to hear that Ronnie has voiced some concerns over the venue, especially after feedback from everybody else has been so positive. We have been working closely with World Snooker to make this competition the best it can be and they are extremely happy with how the first day has gone, and in fact, we hear that ticket sales have already surpassed total numbers sold for all previous English Open venues. To be involved with this event is a privilege and we are pleased that K2 Crawley’s great accessibility and facilities will mean that more snooker fans than ever before can enjoy the tournament – we are certainly excited to see what the rest of the week holds!”
This reminds me of Ronnie’s comments when the Welsh Open moved to Cardiff for the first time… Of course, the previous English Open venue, Preston, has a lot of history; it was the home of the UK Championship, and it’s where Ronnie won his first-ever ranking event, the 1993 UK Championship, at only 17. Maybe another venue was always going to be at a disadvantage in his eyes because of this.
That said, comments about Crawley on social, even before this outburst, weren’t particularly nice. And Shaun Murphy who represents the players and heads the “Players Commission, was very “diplomatic” in his answer when interviewed by Andy Goldstein after his win over Mike Dunn. Basically, he explained that finding venues, large enough to accommodate eight tables, with good viewing space in the main arena, plus practice tables, plus space for the officials, the players between matches, the sponsors and the media, is a real challenge and that this leisure center was ticking the boxes. However, he didn’t directly respond to Ronnie’s criticisms.