UK Championship 2018 – Before it starts


The UK Championship starts tomorrow in York, and Ronnie is the defending champion.

This is very special indeed because it will be 25 years, almost to the day, that Ronnie won this event for the first time, still only 17 years old. On 28 November 1993, he beat Stephen Hendry, then firmly in his prime, by 10-6 in the final. It was Ronnie’s first ranking win, and, to date, he remains the youngest ever ranking event winner, never mind the youngest ever triple crown event winner.

And Eurosport made this short video where Ronnie remembers how it felt at the time

The rigging is well under way at the Barbican

The Barbican is a great venue although not exactly fit for a 128 players event. The BBC coverage will not start before the weekend when the last 64 round starts. Meanwhile, two tables will be streamed and shown on ES player.

Meanwhile, Ronnie was again on twitter bickering with Barry Hearn. Ronnie feels that the top players shouldn’t have to play qualifying rounds, in cheap venues, against opponents that are often unable to make a real match of it. He also feels that the calendar is too packed and that the players would perform better if they had some time to prepare between events. Barry Hearn dismisses all this saying players have the choice not to enter. At which Ronnie answers that, yes they do, but at the cost of their ranking, and suggests that counting the 10 best performances for every player would be a fairer reflection. This time though, Ronnie got the support from Mark Williams, the World Champion. The thing is that the top players are the ones reaching the latter stages of tournaments more often than not, therefore having to cope with the biggest inconveniences when events follow each other without a break, especially when happening on different continents. They also are the ones who bring the audience, and the sponsors, hence the money. And, they have earned their status, climbing through the rankings.

Ronnie also spoke to Eurosport about the influence the tobacco ban had on snooker

Snooker – Ronnie O’Sullivan: Smoking ban has killed game in UK

The five-time champion, who last month berated the English Open venue in Crawley as a ‘hellhole’, before saying he could smell urine in the interview area, thinks that the culture of the game has died since it was outlawed to smoke inside in 2007.

He told WestEndExtra: “The smoking ban killed off the clubs. It killed off snooker culture. There might have 100 clubs in London at one point but now there is just maybe five or six proper ones left.

“King’s Cross – that used to be a proper club, but now it’s got music and changed a lot.”

O’Sullivan also lamented that a members’ club in Dean Street, where he used to play, has now closed.

“It’s shut down now. We took two mirrors from there when it closed, they’re still at my mum’s place. If I go down there [Soho] people still say hello Ronnie, ask how my dad’s doing.

“It’s definitely cleaned up around there now, I’m not sure if the kind of characters are there anymore.”

I hate to say this, but again there is a lot of truth in there, although, other factors come into play as well. The younger generation has so many choices, and everything around in society today tends to favour fast-paced entertainment. However, in Brussels where I live, most clubs have closed, and in Athens, where I’m often staying, the ones that are still successful are the ones that blatantly ignore the ban regulations.

I don’t smoke and I hate to have to breathe other people smoke. I don’t like the smell, I don’t like my throat and eyes getting sore. But a fact is a fact, and the owner of the club where I play in Athens told me in no ambiguous terms that if he did enforce a smoking ban he would have to close his club.

3 thoughts on “UK Championship 2018 – Before it starts

  1. “King’s Cross – that used to be a proper club, but now it’s got music and changed a lot.”

    This is funny, because it reminded me of the bickering in “Double Kiss”, where Frankie wants to keep up and keep his audience by having TV screens during some big football championship, and his faithful visitor complains about it.

  2. The smoking ban doesn’t seem to have stopped people from going to pubs in this country. Also, if we are struggling to attract young players, then non-smoking isn’t really the problem – quite the reverse.

    Anyway, I’ve been warming up for York by following the ISBF World Amateur, in Yangon. Strangely, it clashed with the Women’s Masters, and most of the best women have chosen to play in Asia, including Wendy Jans, who defeated Ng On Yee. Another Belgian, Kevin Hanssens, is doing well, having battled through to the semi-finals. He joins He Guoqiang, Chang Bingyu and Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon, who seems to be taking the game seriously again. As with recent Pro events, the tables are playing generously, and there has been some high scoring.

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