A surprisingly positive interview with Barry Hearn reflecting on Ronnie missing the 2020 Masters

Don’t stop at the title, it’s only a small part of what Hearn had to say to the BBC 

Ronnie O’Sullivan: Missing Masters a ‘career mistake’, says Barry Hearn

The part in bold ( bold added by me) is both heartwarming and a bit worrying. But we shall see what the rest of the season brings. Ronnie had been in and out of love with snooker for most of his life. I doubt that he will be able to stay away from it entirely one day.

12 thoughts on “A surprisingly positive interview with Barry Hearn reflecting on Ronnie missing the 2020 Masters

  1. Ron, the one highly successful genius of snooker still playing, functions in a unique spectrum of consciousness outside the ‘normal’ and cannot be understood by Norms, however well-intentioned and sympathetic they are. Thus intuition alone may give insight into Ron’s W-Champs ideas. Mine says he’s storing energy for a fling at the 2020 title as the duration of the Crucible event is the one recurring comment Ron makes and he knows what it takes to maintain his mindset throughout the endurance test the World’s in fact is. Whatever he does Mr O’Sullivan embodies the beauty of snooker for me like no-one else and I wish him the best always.

    • I know Timmy, but I cited the article as it is. The wrotethat he won it in 1995, which is correct, at 21, which isn’t correct given that he was born in December 1975.

  2. Until proven otherwise, I’m still working on the hypothesis that Ronnie has decided to prioritize the World Championships for the next few years (if not the remainder of his career), now that he already shares/hold the sport’s other important records.

    Playing in the Masters would only be worthwhile if he treated the event seriously and tried to win, but he doesn’t really want to try to win because he thinks that doing so would be antithetical to his efforts to win the WC. So playing in the Masters would be a bit of a “lose-lose” for Ronnie in that respect.

    • Mark, I would like to believe that you are right. Unfortunately I find that difficult. I just hope that Ronnie will play at the Crucible but I’m far from confident that he will.

      • Only time will tell, of course. I understand being skeptical, given Ronnie’s (recent) history at the Crucible. But I think that my hypothesis is the explanation that best explains the data (i.e. Ronnie’s approach to this season). I think Ronnie dedicated himself the past 2 seasons to catching Hendry’s records, and now that the WC record is essentially the only one left for Ronnie to aim for, it would make perfect sense (from the standpoint of his legacy) if he had decided to invest his energy in the WC rather than all of the other events that aren’t nearly as meaningful now for the record books.

        If I understand correctly you are a mathematician. Perhaps then you are familiar with Bayesian statistics. I don’t know much, but what little I do know suggests that it might make sense to distinguish between two different probabilities: (1) the probability that Ronnie would prioritize the WC in 2020 and beyond, as measured back in April of 2019 after he lost to James Cahill, and (2) the probability that Ronnie would prioritize the WC in 2020 and beyond, as measured in January 2020 after we have seen his approach to the 2019-2020 season.

        Probability 1 is clearly very low, given everything we knew up until April 2019 about Ronnie’s history of underachieving at the WC. All signs back then pointed to Ronnie never being willing or able to commit to winning the WC again, and to him being 100% content to retire someday with 5 WC titles. Probability 1 is based on a heavy dose of (warranted) skepticism about Ronnie’s future chances at the Crucible.

        It seems to me, though, that Probability 2 is higher than Probability 1. Probability 2 is adjusted (upward) based on the new information we have acquired since April 2019, in the form of Ronnie’s approach thus far to the 2019-2020 season. If Ronnie were approaching this season the same way he did the past 2 seasons (i.e. by playing “match snooker” and trying to win), then there would be no reason to think that Ronnie was prioritizing the WC. But everything that Ronnie is doing this season is exactly what I would expect him to do if he WERE to prioritize the WC, which makes me think that the probability of him prioritizing the WC is higher than it was back in April 2019.

        None of which is to say, of course, that if he plays in the WC this year he will necessarily cope with the pressure (and play good match snooker) any better than he has in the past. Even if it is part of his plan this season to show up at the Crucible with more energy and lower external pressure/expectations, that wouldn’t guarantee that he would be able to play his normal game and make a deep run in the event. But I do believe (and I think he does, too) that his current approach to the 2019/2020 season is the best thing he could do to maximize his chances of doing well at the WC…

      • Time will tel Mark, and I do hope to be wrong, but to me there is no “strategy” behind Ronnie’s season. Just the acceptance that he’s probably not going to win another World title, a certain satisfaction with his record as it is and the desire to continue to play but on his own terms. I think that he would really want to win another ranker though, to get to 37.

  3. Ronnie won his first Masters title in 1995 at the age of 19, and not at 21 as Owen Phillips writes on his article.

  4. No. We don’t really know why Ronnie decided not to play in the Masters. I doubt if Barry knows either. It’s too early to say he has “fallen out of love with the game”. And Barry’s words, in the past tense, sound more like a career obituary, which is also premature.

    One year ago, I suggested that John Higgins might benefit from skipping the Masters, the way he was talking. I thought watching the others competing on television might wake him up to realise how much snooker means to him. Things might work out better for Ronnie as well, at least in the next few months.

    • Agreed. and thank you for your comments on the WSF event as well. Gao fully intends to take his tour cart. He’s pulled out of the main event. Now what if he’s prevented by circumstances to use his card? That’s still unclear to me.

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