Ronnie’s big interview ahead of the 2021 English Open – Part 4

This last part of Ronnie’s big interview is about “snooker politics”


“I emotionally untangled myself from the sport probably 10 years ago, in many ways, and I just made snooker work for me,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport in a special extended interview ahead of the English Open. “I hear a lot of the bottom-ranked players complaining about various things, and the top-ranked players complaining about things; like I said, I feel like snooker became a bit toxic.”


Ronnie O’Sullivan has opened up about how he felt that ‘snooker became a bit toxic in many ways’ and the level of involvement he now wants to have within the sport.

The 45-year-old, who would love to win a seventh world title in his illustrious career, has spoken candidly about his frustrations with getting involved in the politics of the sport and his current detachment from it.

In 2018, O’Sullivan claimed that he was “ready to go” to form a breakaway “Champions League-style” snooker tour after he said he was unhappy with the number of events on the regular calendar and the travelling required.

Despite saying that he wanted to make positive changes at one point, The Rocket has said that he “emotionally untangled myself from the sport”, and is now happy with just doing his own thing.

To be honest, I emotionally untangled myself from the sport probably 10 years ago, in many ways, and I just made snooker work for me,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport in a special extended interview ahead of the English Open.

There was a time where I thought things could be done differently and would be beneficial to everybody on the tour. But when you never got the support of your other players, I just kind of went, ‘You know what, it’s never going to happen‘.


O’Sullivan conceded that, while he wanted to make changes, he did not feel as though he could do what he wanted and so has decided to simply see playing snooker as his “hobby” and “as fun”.

There was no unity and we all couldn’t try and get what’s right for all the players,” he said. “So I decided to kind of like disentangle myself from snooker, and it’s better that sort of way because now I do all my other stuff with all my sponsors and that’s all great.

I kind of see that as what I do for a living, if you like, and I enjoy to do that, and I just play snooker as a hobby, as fun. I enjoy playing, but by doing that I don’t want to have an opinion.

I don’t want to feel like this can be changed and, in many ways – and it’s probably not good thing – I hope it actually sometimes gets worse, because I think sometimes you can see the car crash happening. But unless people want to sort of unite, I suppose in many ways, then the car crash will just keep on continuing to happen.

I’d rather not be emotionally involved in that, because I’ve got the utmost respect for any snooker player that plays on the tour, and you’re just fighting for them in many ways. But at some point you’ve kind of got to go, ‘It’s not working, I’m better off just being quite tunnel vision about what’s right for me and doing what’s right for me, and just taking the best bits from it’.

I’ve never been so happy, really, because I love snooker and I love playing, but it wouldn’t be good for me to get involved in the politics or even having an opinion on what I think would be good for the game because it’s pretty pointless, really.”

So, Ronnie is disillusioned about “snooker politics”. Surely he’s not alone. In the past he has often spoken against the views of the governing body, and been accused of “hurting” his sport. He has not always been right, but he has not always been wrong either, far from it. Some fans are convinced that he hates his sport, and he has said that he hates snooker a number of times in the past. But then, he has suffered, still suffers,  from mood swings and severe bouts of depression and I guess that when he is in the middle of a “low” he probably hates everything about his life…

The truth however is that he loves his sport, as Alan McManus explained during his interview with Phil Haigh and Nick Metcalfe:

Alan McManus reveals the side of Ronnie O’Sullivan he’s ‘lucky to see’ behind the scenes

Ronnie O’Sullivan (Picture: Getty Images)

Alan McManus has the pleasure of working with Ronnie O’Sullivan in their roles as television pundits, and while the Scot knows when to ‘back off and not engage’ he says he is lucky to see the Rocket hugely passionate about the game he loves.

McManus and O’Sullivan were colleagues in the Eurosport studio at the Northern Ireland Open in Belfast earlier this month after the Rocket was beaten by Yan Bingtao in the last 16.

Earlier in the tournament O’Sullivan had criticised the atmosphere at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast, saying he was ‘very bored’ and he ‘wasn’t really bothered he he won or lost,’ after beating Andy Hicks in round two.

Angles says that when the six-time world champion is in that kind of mood, he chooses to just leave him to it, although he then gets to see the other side of O’Sullivan later in the event.

The Rocket went from downbeat to quite perky after he was eliminated from the tournament and McManus had a great experience with him as they watched the climax of the event.

McManus told the Talking Snooker podcast: ‘Sometimes, I think if he’s in that sort of mood and he doesn’t want to engage in a positive way about the snooker or whatever he’s talking about, I just think, “I’ll back off and not engage with him.”

If he doesn’t want to talk about it he’s not gonna.

The flip side of that, of course, is when he’s really up for it. I’ll say this…later in the week, Ronnie had lost, so he had a couple of days in the studio.

We were watching the matches and he’s into it, he loves it. John [Higgins] was doing some special things and he was loving it, he loves the game.

‘I’m lucky I get to see that side of things and he really loves it.

McManus also enjoyed O’Sullivan’s humble side, surprised to see the 37-time ranking event winner asking how players pulled off shots that surely he could also manage.

We sit and have a laugh when somebody plays a good shot. It’s actually ridiculous because he’s rolling about laughing after a good shot, going: “How did he do that?

World Snooker Championship - Day 14
Alan McManus (Picture: Getty Images)

But you think, well…oh, it doesn’t matter Ronnie. But he’s a snooker fan. He’s engaging, he can be a bit up and down, but who can’t in other ways?

Ronnie chooses to be a bit up and down in press things or on camera or whatever but at the end of the day he’s a big snooker fan and he loves it, and why not? He’s quite good.

He’s a good guy, he’s alright, you know. I really like him.’


Ronnie’s big interview ahead of the 2021 English Open – Part 3

Ronnie spoke to Eurosport about who is currently at the top of the sport and where the “class of 92” now stands


“I would probably narrow it down into maybe two divisions now,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport in a special extended interview ahead of the English Open. “I think you’d have to say Selby, Trump and possibly Robertson, you could say that they are the three strongest players. I think outside of that, then you put me, John Higgins and Mark Williams, just because of the age.”


Ronnie O’Sullivan Image credit: Eurosport

Ronnie O’Sullivan has claimed that there are two divisions at the top of snooker’s elite and identified the big-name players who fit in each category.

The 45-year-old, who has six world titles to his name, had himself in the second division, along with fellow legends John Higgins and Mark Williams, while he said Judd Trump, Mark Selby and Neil Robertson were in the top tier.

The Rocket compared himself, Higgins and Williams to tennis greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in terms of still being able to compete at the top level despite no longer being in their prime years.

I would probably narrow it down into maybe two divisions now,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport in a special extended interview ahead of the English Open.
“I think you’d have to say Selby, Trump and possibly Robertson, you could say that they are the three strongest players. I think outside of that, then you put me, John Higgins and Mark Williams, just because of the age.

Because at my age now, if I win a tournament, or at least put my heart and soul into it, it takes me three or four days just to sort of recover again to be able to go again. Whereas maybe seven, eight years ago I could win the World Championship and then wake up the next day and think, ‘I could do that again’.

You know, and as you get older, you don’t have the powers of concentration or sustainability. So I think those three are in their prime and once you hit 43, 44 it gets a lot harder.


I think that is what is getting us by at the moment, but I don’t know how much longer that can go on for.

So I think I would probably break that down into two divisions: Selby, Trump, Robertson – just because of their age, not because of their ability to play the game, but just that they’re able to concentrate and recover one match after another a lot better than say, me, Williams or Higgins would.

O’Sullivan also had his say on the tournaments that really matter to him and made it abundantly clear that the World Championship remains the pinnacle and worth “five mediocre events” in his mind.

The Triple Crowns, they are the three big tournaments, that is where the most pressure is. That is where the top players usually thrive and they never change, a bit like the Masters [golf], the four majors, you can always judge Jack Nicklaus with Tiger Woods because of the amount of majors.


There is of course a lot of truth in there… no matter what Judd Trump says.

Despite Ronnie’s perception that he is now in “second division”, Alan Mc Manus still rates him as the best player of all times.

Alan McManus names his top six snooker players of all time: ‘As far as the greatest, obviously Ronnie is’

Alan McManus at the Coral Northern Ireland Open 2016.
Alan McManus has picked out the best to ever play snooker (Picture: Getty Images)

Alan McManus feels that Ronnie O’Sullivan is ‘obviously’ the greatest snooker player of all time, but Stephen Hendry’s achievements should not be forgotten and they are unlikely to ever be repeated.

O’Sullivan is regularly named as the greatest player to ever pick up a cue, although there are still some votes from people in the sport for Hendry and John Higgins.

McManus is in the Rocket’s camp on this one, but is blown away by both his fellow Scots, who he feels come in at joint-second on his GOAT list.

Time’s a great healer of memory, people forget about Stephen and the things he did,’ McManus told the Talking Snooker podcast.

First of all, when’s the next time someone’s going to win the Masters at the first five goes? It’s easy to forget.

Who’s going to win the Crucible five times on the spin? Probably no one, it ain’t going to happen. But he did it and he did it because he was unbelievably good.

John’s a different kind of good, he’s got the whole package, technically he’s unbelievably good, but the other thing that John developed was the snooker brain, it’s like a chess Grand Master or a piano player, it just makes sense to him.

When you’ve got that technique and that bottle, there’s no weakness, he’s very difficult to handle.

As far as the greatest, obviously Ronnie is, I’d put Stephen and John almost shoulder-to-shoulder.’

Most ranking title wins

Ronnie O’Sullivan 37
Stephen Hendry 36
John Higgins 31
Steve Davis 28
Mark Williams 24
Judd Trump 22
Neil Robertson 20
Mark Selby 20
Ding Junhui 14

Angles was pretty clear on an O’Sullivan, Higgins and Hendry top three, and slotted in Steve Davis at number four fairly confidently, but struggled to split the two names he has battling for fifth spot.

For me…oo dear this is very difficult,’ said McManus on rounding off his top five. ‘I would say those three then Steve Davis has got to be in there, for many reasons I won’t go into.

Then probably Mark Selby and Mark Williams, one of those two.

Probably Mark Williams maybe, just because he’s been around longer but I don’t know. I’m sure that everyone of them are glad to be in the shake-up.

Mark Selby and Mark Williams at the Betfred World Snooker Championships.
Mark Selby beat Mark Williams en route to a fourth world title this year (Picture: Getty Images).

By ranking titles, Williams beats Selby by 24-20, but the Englishman has picked up four World Championship titles to the Welshman’s four.

Selby has also picked up one more Masters title than the Welsh Potting Machine, but longevity, of course, goes to Williams.

The veteran won his first ranking title at the Welsh Open in 1996 and his most recent one in August this year at the British Open.

The Jester from Leicester achieved up his first ranking triumph 12 years after Williams’ first, with his most recent coming at the Crucible in May when he won a fourth world title.

I know someone who isn’t probably too happy because he’s not even in the conversation…

Ronnie’s big interview ahead of the 2021 English Open – Part 2

Here is another topic discussed by Ronnie in his big interview, this time reported by Phil Haigh

Ronnie O’Sullivan claims nine-ball pool is his ‘little secret’ to snooker success

Ronnie O'Sullivan at the Betfred World Snooker Championship.
Ronnie O’Sullivan reckons an unlikely source has been behind some of his snooker success (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan has revealed that playing pool is ‘a little secret’ behind some of his snooker success and has encouraged players of all cue sports to take up a variety of disciplines.

The Rocket has a bit of history with nine-ball pool, playing for Team Europe in the 1996 Mosconi Cup, and he says that the smaller table has helped him to his unprecedented levels of success in snooker.

The six-time world champion and 37-time ranking event winner says that pool practice is his ‘little secret’ to finding his best form on the snooker table, and hes explained why.

‘It is a little secret I let people in on, I actually played some of my best snooker because I played nine-ball pool,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport.

You are playing on a smaller table and trying to pot a ball over 12 foot is a lot – a long ball over 12 foot is quite a hard thing to do. But when you get an a pool table, you start potting long balls on a nine-foot table, it’s just like, you stop fearing the long distance as much.

Ronnie - 6 WC- gettyimages-1313007152
O’Sullivan won a sixth World Snooker Championship title in 2020 (Picture: Getty Images)

In some ways, you have to use different techniques on the pool table, which you can then bring to the snooker table.

I think I learned a lot and played some of my best snooker through playing nine-ball pool.’

The 45-year-old has advised players of various cue sports to have a crack at other disciplines so they can develop their games most effectively.

I always think there is a good crossover between playing a bit of nine-ball pool, a bit of billiards and a bit of snooker. Because there are crossovers,’ he continued.

It’s like being a pool player, a lot of pool players would be better pool players, if they had played a bit more snooker because it would tighten their technique up a bit.

This is not so secret. Players of the past often played both billiards and snooker for instance, and some old-school coaches still advice the debutants to try themselves at billiards, as it’s a good way to learn how to control the cue ball, and how angles, spin and trajectories work. Some of Jimmy White’s signature shots are billiards shots.



Ronnie’s big interview ahead of the 2021 English Open – Part 1

Eurosport did a long interview with Ronnie, ahead of the coming English Open and they have publised several “teaser pieces” touching on various themes that they discussed with the six times World Champion. Here goes for part 1

Please read with an open mind beyond the headlines and up to the last line before reacting and commenting.

About the youngsters on the tour


Some of the people I see on the tour, I wonder how they actually got there. Where do they find them, you know?” O’Sullivan told Eurosport in a special extended interview ahead of the English Open. “They are very inexperienced, they probably believe in themselves a bit too much for how good they are, and that can be a dangerous thing.


Ronnie O’Sullivan has explained why he is so ‘baffled’ by the next generation of snooker players arriving in the sport, and believes a lot of the issues stem from ego and a false sense of self-belief.

The 45-year-old, who has six world titles to his name, has long since doubted the credentials of the younger stars emerging without having much experience in the amateur or youth ranks before hitting the professional circuit.

O’Sullivan has admitted that he has not been overly impressed with the crop coming through and has observed that “they probably believe in themselves a bit too much for how good they are“.

There are a lot of good players, but I think the problem with snooker now is the issue that I see with a lot of players,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport in a special extended interview ahead of the English Open.

They come in, they haven’t really had an amateur or junior background and they turn professional and the ego kicks in: ‘I’m a professional playing Mark Williams in the first round’, and they’re not really that good.

With some of these guys, they just turn up now because it’s open to anybody, really. They get peppered for the whole year and it’s very hard to then kind of like squash that ego.

[Looking back] I think when you’re a kid, week-in, week-out, playing pro-ams, you might be in one week and you got beat the next two or three weeks and your ego was kept in check because you had a respect for the game and the players and the level to play at.


They have no experience at amateur or junior level in some instances… honestly, I don’t know. It baffles me. That’s one of the reasons I don’t watch it.

I do watch a lot of snooker but I don’t watch the modern day snooker because I think years ago, when you were a pro, you had earned the right to be a pro and basically had earned your stripes. Whereas now it’s just open to anybody. So yeah, it’s a tricky one. It is what it is.

I think me, [Mark] Williams and [John] Higgins, we’re already past our best, you know, physically, mentally, we’re not the players we probably were six, seven, eight, 10, 15 years ago, there’s no chance.

But what we do have is the experience, the pedigree, the ability to have faith in our ability; we haven’t come from this privileged sort of background, we’ve kind of had to go through the junior, the amateur circuit, we’ve had to be beaten, our egos put into place.

So that kind of creates a character for a player, if you like, and the character that Williams and Higgins have got has come from a culmination of putting themselves through the hard yards.

Today, there are a lot of players that are really good players, but they haven’t got that foundation, they haven’t gone through those stages to make them a player that’s going to be around for a long time.


I’d rather be a player that thinks he’s not as good as he actually is, whereas on the tour now you get a lot of players that think they’re better than they actually are, and that for me is the problem. Because that is a dangerous way of thinking, and you can only get true character if you have experienced all levels of the game and appreciate it.

So in many ways, I think Higgins and Williams and me are around just because of that pedigree, not because we’re the best or we’re the youngest or the fittest, just that we’ve got a bit more to fall back on in many ways.

I’m not sure why Ronnie (still) believes that the game is open to anybody, because even if that was the case when he turned pro,  it’s no more like that and it hasn’t been like that for a very long time.

Other than that, I think that he’s mainly right in his assesment, but what he fails to do, is to reflect and point out how and why we got to this situation. 

The core of the problem is indeed that the amateur game has gone backwards, whilst, at the top, the professional game is stronger than ever. The gap between amateurs and top professionals has widened.

There are many reasons for that and Barry Hearn is partly responsible for creating this situation. Let me explain.

When the “class of 92” turned pro the game was indeed open to anybody able and willing to pay a fee to become a professional. It was however a recent situation, the game was “opened” in 1991. This means that, until 1991, players like Ken Doherty and Peter Ebdon, for instance, were amateurs, despite being better that most of the professionals at the time. The amateur scene was massive, with lots of quality events. Ronnie and Mark Williams have often spoken about how they were playing every week in amateur events, and they were quality events. As juniors, they had the opportunity to play the likes of Doherty, Ebdon, Parrott … and they learned a lot from them.

It’s all diffrent now, and the young amateurs are mainly playing amongst themselves, never or very rarely exposed to the level of the professional game. The best of them dominate that amateur scene and indeed may, and actually often will, develop a perception that they are amongst the best, something that transpires in their quotes, right after earning their first tour card. They are the best, but only in their peers’ group. The professiomal circuit is something else entirely and they are not prepared for it, neither “technically”, nor mentally.

They are not helped by the way the system has been shaped by Barry Hearn. Since the disappearence of the tiered system, there is no progressivity, no development path. All of a sudden, from being serial winners amongst the amateurs, they become serial losers amongst the pros. It’s hard, it hurts, and many – I would even say most – go from being over-confident to being completely dispirited, depressed and feeling worthless. A return to the tiered system is needed, maybe not in all events, but in most.

It doesn’t help them either that they struggle badly financially. The whole “rewarding” system is far too top heavy. I have written this before, and I will write it again here: you need two to play a match of snooker, by playing both players bring value to the tournament, the sponsors, the venue, the broadcaster, WST and the watching fans. They deserve something for their work. They are professionals. At the very minimum, doing their job should not cost them. First round losers should get paid at least enough to cover their basic “professional” expenses.

Barry Hearn also has a responsibilities in the decline of the amateur scene. There are several factors to consider here.

First, when he created the PTCs, that were actually pro-ams, it attracted a lot of amateurs, lured by the prospect of meeting and playing the best in the world, and the possiblity to gain a tour car via this route. As far as I remember, the latter never happened. Playing in those PTCs was not cheap, it was also time consuming. As a result, other pro-ams, some of them with a long history, were disregarded and many disappeared. When the PTCs were ditched, they didn’t re-appear…

Next, Worldsnooker/WST negotiated contracts with top broadcasters, and we have more snooker on our screens than ever. I’m not complaining about that. However, I believe that things went too far when it comes to “exclusive rights”. When a charity event, happening in the middle of the summer, with no pro event on, is asked to stop streaming the one main table because they were not granted permission by Worldsnooker, and participating pros would be in breach of contract… something is not right. When qualifiers for the Seniors tour – that can do with as much exposure it can get – are restricted to stream matches for the same reason something is not right, especially when WST itself has agreed on the right for older lower ranked pros to play in these events. Surely a more reasonable agreement on these issues can be negotiated with broadcasters? Because, in this age of  ubiquitous social media, being able to stream is a key factor in any amateur event prospect to succeed and survive.

And finally, on a normal year, the professional calendar is so full, with so little down-time in the summert that pros have neither the time, nor the energy to participate in pro-ams anymore. This renders these pro-ams less attractive, to both the public and the amateur players, but more importantly, it also means that they no more provide the amateurs competing in them the opportunity to pit themselves against pros and learn from that experience.

Don’t get me wrong, Barry Hearn worked wonders for snooker and I’m grateful for it, but not everything he did was right. The only people who are always right are those who do nothing. But when something isn’t right, and problems are identified, changes are needed.

And, one last point that I won’t discuss again here, but will still mention: the main professional qualifying route, the Q-School is inadequate.



Interview avec/with/met Stephane Ochoiski – EBSA European Championships 2021

Stephane Ochoiski a accepté de partager son experience des récents Championnats d’Europe de snooker au Portugal. Merci Stephane!

Voici la transcription de l’interview, en français, la langue originale, en anglais et en néerlandais.

Les traductions n’ont pas été faites par des professionnels… mais j’espère tout de même que les lecteurs anglophones et néerlandophones apprécieront le témoignage de Stephane.

Après un long délai, causé par la pandémie covid-19, les championnats d’Europe de snooker ont enfin eu lieu au Portugal. Tu t’y es rendu en tant que père d’un joueur et coach de plusieurs jeunes. Qu’as tu pensé de …

  • L’accueil et l’hébergement des joueurs et de leurs accompagnants

Nous avons été accueillis dans un bel hôtel avec un joli cadre extérieur. La nourriture était correcte mais rien exceptionnel. La fédération portugaise a fait tous les efforts possibles pour rendre note séjour agréable.

  • Les précautions mises en place par rapport à la pandémie

Il n’y avait pas vraiment de contrôle et l’hôtel était aussi ouvert aux visiteurs intéressés par l’évènement. On aurait pu croire que la pandémie était terminée là-bas.

  • L’organisation de la « venue » et la qualité de l’équipement

  • L’organisation des tournois même : l’équipe, les horaires, informations pour les joueurs, arbitrage

Tout d’abord, bravo à l’équipe organisatrice de l’EBSA qui a vraiment bien travaillé, aux bénévoles qui se sont dévoués tout au long de ces 15 jours et. je me répète mais, bravo aussi à la fédération portugaise qui a fait son maximum pour satisfaire tout le monde.

Cela dit, vu que tout avait été reporté en raison de la covid 19, l’EBSA avait décidé d’organiser les différentes compétitions en même temps alors que d’habitude les compétitions par équipes, senior et féminines sont organisées séparément.

Tout était donc concentré sur une période relativement courte. Du coup, le format de jeu des différentes compétitions avait été raccourci. A mon avis, ces formats étaient trop courts. Par exemple pour la première fois en « 6-reds » il n’y a pas eu de phase de groupes ; ça c’est joué en élimination directe en « best of 7 ». Le tournoi principal, le championnat d’Europe homme/mixte s’est déroulé seulement en groupes de 4 joueurs et en « best of 5 » Je n’avais jamais vu cela et vu l’importance du résultat final – une place dans le « main tour » et une autre aux championnats du monde « 6 reds », je trouve que c’était vraiment trop court, surtout pour les joueurs qui avaient fait le déplacement et qui ne participaient que à un ou deux évènements.

La qualité des tables était aussi la problématique, les tables star ne sont pas faites pour le tapis 6811 gold. Au début ça allait, mais au fur et à mesure des jours, les conditions de jeux se sont détériorées : les poches étaient minuscules et la blanche difficile à contrôler.

Les conditions de jeu sont des paramètres très importants dans ce type d’événements. Il faut veiller à ce que les conditions de compétition soient, autant que possible, similaires aux les conditions dans lesquelles les joueurs se sont préparés. Les organisateurs auraient dû changer au moins le tapis de la table principale, celle où se déroulaient les finales télévisées

  • La « couverture » des tournois : présence de la presse ? Interviews des joueurs (vainqueurs, finalistes) ? Le site du tournoi et le streaming de certains matches (Merci Darius Goral), la présence ou non de spectateurs …

Comme je l’ai dit plus haut, l’équipe organisatrice a fait un super job. Je tiens à dire que sans Dariuz et son système de « live scoring/streaming », ça ne serait pas pareil. Au Portugal et ou dans tous les tournois amateurs où il est présent, cet homme est un génie et il apporte énormément. Merci beaucoup à lui en effet!

Bravo aussi à Antonio Barroso, le journaliste portugais qui a travaillé très dur et assuré une des meilleures couvertures médiatiques que j’ai pu voir sur les championnats d’Europe.

Si on pouvait rajouter des commentaires au « live streaming » cela apporterait encore plus de valeur mais, évidemment, cela augmenterait encore la charge de travail.

Félicitations aussi à tous les arbitres. L’ équipe était géniale et un le niveau d’arbitrage vraiment très bon..

Outre cela

  • qu’as-tu pensé du niveau général ? Chez les jeunes ? Chez les adultes ? Chez les seniors ? Chez les dames ? Est-il utile de conserver les épreuves féminines malgré le fait que les autres tournois sont en fait ouverts à tous ? Si oui, pourquoi ?

Vu les conditions de jeu très difficiles j’ai trouvé le niveau général correct. Parfois c’était pénible de voir les joueurs frustrés par le parcours aléatoire de la blanche. Malgré tout, il y a eu quelque centuries, surtout le tournois principal où il y avait beaucoup plus de joueurs très expérimentés qui ont l’habitude de gérer ces conditions de jeu difficiles.

J’assiste à ces compétitions Européennes depuis plus de 10 ans maintenant, et je dois dire que je suis très inquiet du niveau de jeu dans les catégories U18 et U 21. En particulier, à part une ou deux exceptions, le niveau des joueurs représentant le Royaume Uni (Angleterre, Ecosse, Pays de Galles et Irlande du Nord) et l’ Irlande était vraiment décevant., en recul par rapport aux éditions précédentes. C’est désormais l’Europe continentale qui présente les meilleurs joueurs dans ces catégories.

Dans le tournois principal, le format court obligeait à « assurer » et vu les circonstances je dirais, que le niveau était correct. En « Senior » par contre, le niveau était très bas ; ça fait des années que je n’avais pas vu un niveau aussi bas, Darren Morgan était loin au dessus du lot.

Chez les dames qui n’ont pas des bras trop musclés et qui ont joué à la fin c’était vraiment dur de jouer dans ees conditions offertes , et donc, le niveau n’était pas fameux du tout.

Mais oui, bien sûr, il faut conserver le tournoi féminin, il faut promouvoir dans cette catégorie aussi et même si les filles peuvent s’inscrire dans les autres épreuves le niveau des deux genres est totalement différent. Dans tous les sports il y a la catégorie féminine et masculine séparée et je ne vois pas pourquoi au snooker ça devrait être différent.

  • Quels sont les joueurs/joueuses qui t’ont impressionné et pourquoi ?

Chez les U 18 et U 21, Julien Leclercq et Ben Mertens, ils sont au-dessus du lot, ils ont vraiment dominé les tournois, je savais toutefois que Dylan Emery allait gagner le U21 car il a beaucoup plus d’expérience que les deux autres, il méritait ce titre et c’est un des rares joueur venant du Royaume Uni qui a tenu son rang de favori.

Chez les hommes, Ivan Kakovski. Pour moi il aurai mérité d’être champion d’ Europe. Plus haut, j’ai mentionné l’Europe continentale comme étant à présent la principale « force » du snooker amateur, mais j’aurais dû rajouter que les meilleurs espoirs en Europe viennent désormais principalement de l’Europe de l’Est.

Darren Morgan m’a encore beaucoup impressionné. Pour moi, avec Julien, il était le meilleur joueur présent dans cette compétition, un grand champion.

Chez les dames, les anglaises surtout Jamie Hunter. On a vraiment envie de la regarder jouer ; elle a vraiment un style particulier. Mary Talbot-Deegan m’a aussi impressionné.

  • As-tu identifié des « espoirs » parmi les moins de 18 ans/21 ans ? Lesquels ? Pourquoi ?

Oui bien entendu. J’adore observer les nouveaux talents, Voici quelques noms : Julien et Ben bien sûr, l’écossais Liam Graham et le gallois Liam Davies. Ce sont les deux seuls jeunes du Royaume Uni qui m’ont marqué. Venant de l’Est de l’Europe Bulcsu Revecs (Hongrie), Filip Kalnins (Lettonie), Anton Kazakov et Matei Lagodzinschii (Ukraine), Kledio Kaci( Albanie), Vladisav Gradinari (Moldavie) sont des joueurs à suivre.

Pourquoi ? Parce qu’ ils ont tous déjà beaucoup de maturité dans leur jeu ou un réel talent pour ce sport.

  • Quel est le « bilan » de tes élèves ? Qu’ont-ils retiré de leur participation ?

Pour tous les joueurs que j’ai suivi sur place. le bilan est positif : certains ont atteints les objectifs fixés et d’autres non mais tous ont gagné beaucoup d’expérience et, dans ce type de tournoi, c’est très important. J’ai aussi pris aussi des contacts pour de nouvelles collaborations.

L’équipe de France, dont je m’occupais dans le passé, n’a pas fait un grand championnat d’Europe, Brian (mon fils) a quand même remporté la phase de poule dans le tournoi principal et atteint les « last 16 ». Il etait seul joueur qui n’avait concédé aucune frame à ce stade. Avec Niel Vincent il a amené, l’équipe de France sur le podium du tournoi en équipe. Malgré tout. cela reste un bilan très maigre selon moi.

  • La Belgique, bien que minuscule, s’est distinguée : finale entièrement Belge en moins de 18 ans, Julien Leclercq en finale des moins de 21 ans, Wendy Jans remportant un 13 ème titre, Les Belges remportant l’épreuve par équipe … Qu’est-ce qui explique cela ?

Je suis très content pour la Belgique et surtout pour Julien qui le mérite beaucoup: je vois un grand espoir en lui.

Pour le reste, je pense que la Belgique est un pays de snooker. L’expérience apportée par Luca Brecel à Ben et Julien et sa participation à de nombreux tournois en Belgique aide à la promotion de la discipline et ça se ressent au niveau international. Et, n’oublions pas le bon boulot de Dany Moermans, le coach national.

Les jeunes français rivalisaient avec les belges il y a deux ou trois ans encore mais ce n’est plus le cas. En France, il ne se passe rien côté snooker depuis 2 ans. Après, on se demande pourquoi et donc les français vont souvent maintenant jouer en Belgique…


Merci à toi, Stephane!

In english …

After a long delay, caused by the covid-19 pandemic, the European Snooker Championships finally took place in Portugal. You went there as the father of a player and the coach of several youngsters. What did you think of the following aspects of the event?

  • Reception and accommodation for players and their companions

We were accomodated in a beautiful hotel with a lovely outdoor setting. The food was ok but nothing exceptional. The Portuguese federation has made every effort to make our stay pleasant.

  • The precautions put into place in relation to the pandemic

There was no real control and the hotel was also open to visitors interested in the event. You would have thought the pandemic was over there.

  • The venue and the quality of the equipment
  • The organisation of the tournaments itself: the team, schedules, information for players, refereeing

First of all, well done to the EBSA organising team who worked really well, to the volunteers who have devoted themselves throughout these 15 days and. I repeat myself, but well done again to the Portuguese federation which did its uttermost to satisfy everyone.

However, since everything had been postponed due to covid 19, EBSA decided to run all the different competitions at the same time, whereas usually the team, senior and women’s competitions are held separately.

Everything was therefore concentrated over a relatively short period. Because of that, the playing format of the various competitions had been shortened. In my opinion, these formats were too short. For example for the first time in the “6-reds” there was no group stage; it was played as a “best of 7” knockout from the start. The main tournament, the European men’s / mixed championship group stages featured groups of only 4 players and a “best of 5″ format. I had never seen this and considering the importance of the final result – a place in the ” main tour ”and another one at the “6 reds” world championships, I think it was really too short, especially for the players who had made the trip to participate in one or two events only.

The quality of the tables was also problematic: the star tables are not a good match with the 6811 gold cloth. It was fine, at first, but as the days went by, the playing conditions deteriorated: the pockets were tiny and the white was hard to control.

The playing conditions are very important parameters in this type of event. It should be ensured that the conditions of competition are, as much as possible, similar to the conditions under which the players have prepared. The organisers should, at least, have changed the cloth of the main table, the one where the televised finals were taking place.

  • The Tournament “coverage”: presence of the press? Interviews with players (winners, finalists)? The tournament site and the streaming of certain matches (Thanks Darius Goral), the presence or not of spectators…

As already mentioned, the organising team did a great job. I want to stress that without Dariuz and his “live scoring / streaming” system, it wouldn’t be the same. In Portugal and or in all the amateur tournaments where he is present, this man is a genius and he brings a lot. Many thanks to him indeed!

Well done also to Antonio Barroso, the Portuguese journalist who worked very hard and provided some of the best media coverage I have seen at the European Championships.

If we could add comments to the “live streaming” it would add even more value, but obviously it would increase the workload even further.

Congratulations also to all the referees. The team was great and the level of officiating was really, really good.

Besides this …

  • What did you think of the general level? Amongst young players? Amongst the men? Amongst the seniors? Among the ladies? Is it useful to keep the women’s events despite the fact that the other tournaments are in fact open to everyone? If yes, why?

Considering the very difficult playing conditions, I found the overall level to be correct. Sometimes it was painful to watch how the players frustrated struggled with the white’s haphazard course. Still, there have been a few centuries, especially the main tournament where there were many more very experienced players who are used to dealing with these difficult playing conditions.

I have been attending these European competitions for over 10 years now, and I have to say that I am very worried about the level in the U18 and U21 categories. In particular, despite one or two exceptions, the level of the players representing the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and Ireland was really disappointing, down from previous editions. Continental Europe now provides the best players in these categories.

In the main tournament, the short format made it necessary to “make sure” and given the circumstances I would say, that the level was correct. In “Seniors” on the other hand, the level was very low, It’s been years since I’ had seen such a low level. Darren Morgan was way above the rest.

Among the ladies who didn’t have too muscular arms and who played at the end it was really hard to play in the conditions as they were, and therefore, the level was not that great at all.

But yes, of course, we have to keep the women’s tournament, we have to promote in this category as well and even if the girls can enter in the other events the level of the two genders is totally different. In all sports there is a separate female and male category and I don’t see why in snooker it should be any different.

  • Which players impressed you and why?

In the U18 and U21, Julien Leclercq and Ben Mertens, they are above the rest, they really dominated the tournaments, however I knew that Dylan Emery was going to win the U21 because he has a lot more experience than the two others, he deserved this title and he is one of the few players from the United Kingdom who has held his rank of favourite.

Amongst the men, Ivan Kakovski. For me he should have been the European champion.  I already mentioned Continental Europe as the main “force” in amateur snooker currently but I should have added that the best prospects in Europe now come mainly from Eastern Europe.

Darren Morgan still impressed me a lot. For me, with Julien, he was the best player in this competition, a great champion.

Amongst the ladies, the English impressed me, especially Jamie Hunter. I really enjoy watching her at the table; she really has a special style. Mary Talbot-Deegan also impressed me.

  • Have you identified any “special prospects” among those under 18/21? Who? Why?

Yes of course. I love watching new talents. Here are a few names: Julien and Ben of course, from Scotland, Liam Graham and from Wales, Liam Davies. They are the only two youngsters from the UK who stood out IMO. Coming from Eastern Europe: Bulcsu Revecs (Hungary), Filip Kalnins (Latvia), Anton Kazakov and Matei Lagodzinschii (Ukraine), Kledio Kaci (Albania), Vladisav Gradinari (Moldova) are players to watch.

Why? Because they are all already very mature in their game or real talents in the sport.

  • What was the outcome for your students? What did they get out of their participation?

For all the players I followed at the venue. the result was positive: some have achieved the goals we set and others didn’t, but all gained a lot of experience and, in this type of tournament, it is very important. I also made contacts for new collaborations.

Regarding the French team, which I coached in the past, they did not have a great European Championship. Brian (my son) nevertheless won his group in the group stage in the main tournament and reached the “last 16 “. He was the only player who hadn’t lost a frame at that point. Along with Niel Vincent, he brought the French team on the podium for the team tournament. Nevertheless. it still is a very poor record in my opinion.

  • Belgium, although tiny, stood out: an entirely Belgian final in the under-18s, Julien Leclercq in the under-21s final, Wendy Jans winning a 13th title, The Belgians winning the team event… How come?

I am very happy for Belgium and especially for Julien who deserves it a lot: I have high expectations for him.

Besisdes, I think Belgium is a snooker country. The experience that Luca Brecel brings to Ben and Julien and his participation in many tournaments in Belgium help promoting the sport and pays off in International competitions. And, let’s not underestimate the good work done by Dany Moermans, the national coach.

The young French players were a match for the Belgians two or three years ago but this is no longer the case. In France, nothing has been happening on the snooker scene for 2 years. And then we wonder why the French talents now often prefer to play in Belgium …

There it is, thanks!

Thanks to you, Stephane!

In het  nederlands …

Na een lange vertraging, veroorzaakt door de covid-19 pandemie, vonden eindelijk de Europese Snooker kampioenschappen plaats in Portugal. Je kwam er als vader van een speler en coach van meerdere jonge duiven. Wat dacht je van…

  • Ontvangst en accommodatie voor spelers en hun begeleiders

We werden begroet in een prachtig hotel met een mooie buitenomgeving. Het eten was ok, maar niets uitzonderlijk. De Portugese federatie heeft er alles aan gedaan om ons verblijf aangenaam te maken.

  • De voorzorgsmaatregelen die zijn genomen in verband met de pandemie

Er was geen echte controle en het hotel was ook open voor bezoekers die geïnteresseerd waren in het evenement. Je zou denken dat de pandemie daar was.

  • De organisatie van de “venue” en de kwaliteit van de uitrustingDe organisatie van de toernooien zelf: het team, schema’s, informatie voor spelers, scheidsrechters

Allereerst, goed gedaan aan het EBSA-organisatieteam dat heel goed heeft gewerkt, aan de vrijwilligers die zich gedurende deze 15 dagen hebben toegewijd en. Ik herhaal mezelf, maar ook goed gedaan voor de Portugese federatie die zijn best deed om iedereen tevreden te stellen.

Omdat alles echter was uitgesteld vanwege covid 19, heeft EBSA besloten om de verschillende competities tegelijkertijd te organiseren, terwijl meestal de team-, senioren- en damescompetities apart worden georganiseerd.

Alles was dus geconcentreerd in een relatief korte periode. Plots was het speelformaat van de verschillende competities ingekort. Naar mijn mening waren deze formaten te kort. Zo was er voor het eerst in “6-reds” geen groepsfase; het wordt gespeeld als een “best of 7” knock-out. Het hoofdtoernooi, het Europees kampioenschap heren / gemengd, groep fase vond alleen plaats in groepen van 4 spelers en in “best of 5. Ik had dit nog nooit gezien en zag het belang van het eindresultaat – een plaats in de “hoofdtour” en nog een op de wereldkampioenschappen “6 reds” vond ik het echt te kort, vooral voor de spelers die de reis hadden gemaakt en die slechts aan een of twee evenementen hebben deelgenomen.

De kwaliteit van de tafels was ook het probleem, de Star tafels weken niet goed met het 6811 gouden tapijt. In het begin was het prima, maar naarmate de dagen vorderden, verslechterden de speelomstandigheden: de pockets waren klein en het wit moeilijk te controleren.

De speelomstandigheden zijn zeer belangrijke parameters in dit soort evenementen. Er moet voor worden gezorgd dat de concurrentievoorwaarden zoveel mogelijk overeenkomen met de voorwaarden waaronder de spelers zich hebben voorbereid. De organisatoren hadden op zijn minst het tapijt van de hoofdtafel moeten veranderen, die waar de televisiefinales plaatsvonden.

  • Toernooi “verslaggeving”: aanwezigheid van de pers? Interviews met spelers (winnaars, finalisten)? De toernooisite en de streaming van bepaalde wedstrijden (bedankt Darius Goral), de aanwezigheid of niet van toeschouwers…

Zoals ik hierboven al zei, heeft het organiserende team geweldig werk geleverd. Ik wil zeggen dat het zonder Dariuz en zijn “live scoring / streaming” -systeem niet hetzelfde zou zijn. In Portugal en of in alle amateurs toernooien waar hij aanwezig is, is deze man een genie en hij brengt veel. Veel dank aan hem inderdaad!

Ook goed gedaan voor Antonio Barroso, de Portugese journalist die heel hard heeft gewerkt en een aantal van de beste media-aandacht heeft gegeven die ik heb gezien op de Europese kampioenschappen.

Als we opmerkingen zouden kunnen toevoegen aan de “lives streaming”, zou dat nog meer waarde opleveren, maar het zou natuurlijk de werklast nog verder verhogen.

Ook proficiat aan alle scheidsrechters. Het team was geweldig en het niveau van dienstdoende was echt heel goed.

Naast dit

  • Wat vond je van het algemene niveau? Voor jongeren? Bij volwassenen? Bij de senioren? Bij de dames? Is het nuttig om de vrouwenevenementen te behouden ondanks het feit dat de andere toernooien voor iedereen toegankelijk zijn? Zo ja, waarom?

Onder de zeer moeilijke speelomstandigheden vond ik het algehele niveau correct. Soms was het pijnlijk om te zien hoe de spelers gefrustreerd waren over het lukrake pad van wit. Toch hadden we er een paar centuries, vooral het hoofdtoernooi waar veel meer zeer ervaren spelers speelden en die gewend waren om met deze moeilijke spelomstandigheden om te gaan.

Ik woon deze Europese competities nu al meer dan 10 jaar bij en ik moet wel zeggen dat ik me grote zorgen maak over het spelniveau in de categorieën U18 en U21. Met name, op een of twee uitzonderingen na, het niveau van spelers die het VK vertegenwoordigen (Engeland, Schotland, Wales en Noord-Ierland) en Ierland vielen erg tegen, in vergelijking met eerdere edities. Continentaal Europa presenteert nu de beste spelers in deze categorieën.

In het hoofdtoernooi maakte het korte formaat het noodzakelijk om “voor veiligheid te zorgen” en, onder deze omstandigheden, zou ik zeggen dat het niveau correct was. In “Senioren” daarentegen was het niveau erg laag; Het is jaren geleden dat ik zo’n laag niveau heb gezien, Darren Morgan was ver boven de rest.

Bij de dames die niet al te gespierde armen hadden en die aan het einde speelden, was het erg moeilijk om te spelen in de aangeboden omstandigheden, en daarom was het niveau helemaal niet zo geweldig.

Maar ja, natuurlijk moeten we het vrouwentoernooi houden, we moeten ook in deze categorie promoveren en zelfs als de meisjes aan de andere evenementen mogen meedoen, is het niveau van de twee geslachten totaal verschillend. In alle sporten is er een aparte categorie voor vrouwen en mannen en ik zie niet in waarom dat in snooker anders zou zijn.

  • Wie zijn de spelers die indruk op je hebben gemaakt en waarom?

Bij de U18 en U21, Julien Leclercq en Ben Mertens, ze zijn boven de rest, ze domineerden de toernooien echt, maar ik wist dat Dylan Emery de U21 zou winnen omdat hij veel meer ervaring heeft dan de twee anderen, hij verdiende deze titel en hij is een van de weinige spelers uit het Verenigd Koninkrijk die zijn rang van favoriet heeft behouden.

Voor mannen, Ivan Kakovski. Voor mij verdiende hij het Europees kampioen te worden. Hierboven noemde ik continentaal Europa nu als de belangrijkste “kracht” in het amateur snooker, maar ik had eraan moeten toevoegen dat de beste vooruitzichten in Europa nu voornamelijk uit Oost-Europa komen.

Darren Morgan maakte nog steeds veel indruk op me. Voor mij, met Julien, was hij de beste speler in deze competitie, een echt kampioen.

Bij de dames zijn de Engelsen vooral Jamie Hunter. We willen haar heel graag zien spelen; ze heeft echt een speciale stijl. Mary Talbot-Deegan maakte ook indruk op mij.

  • Hebt u enige “jonge hoop” geïdentificeerd onder degenen onder 18/21? Wie? Waarom ?

Ja natuurlijk. Ik kijk graag naar nieuw talent. Hier zijn een paar namen: Julien en Ben natuurlijk, de Schotse Liam Graham en de Welshe Liam Davies. Zij zijn de enige twee jonge mensen uit het Verenigd Koninkrijk die voor mij opvallen. Komende uit Oost-Europa Bulcsu Revecs (Hongarije), Filip Kalnins (Letland), Anton Kazakov en Matei Lagodzinschii (Oekraïne), Kledio Kaci (Albanië), Vladisav Gradinari (Moldavië) zijn spelers om naar te kijken.

Waarom ? Omdat ze allemaal al heel volwassen zijn in hun spel of een echt talent voor de sport.

  • Wat is het “record” van uw leerlingen? Wat hebben ze uit hun deelname gehaald?

Voor alle spelers die ik ter plekke volgde. het resultaat was positifief: sommigen hebben de gestelde doelen bereikt en anderen niet, maar ze hebben allemaal veel ervaring opgedaan en in dit soort toernooien is het erg belangrijk. Ook heb ik contacten gelegd voor nieuwe samenwerkingen.

Het Franse team, waar ik in het verleden voor zorgde, had geen groot Europees kampioenschap, toch won Brian (mijn zoon) de groepsfase in het hoofdtoernooi en bereikte de “laatste 16”. Hij was de enige speler die op dat moment nog geen frame had toegegeven. Met Niel Vincent, bracht hij het Franse team naar het podium van het teamtoernooi. Hoe dan ook. het blijft naar mijn mening een zeer slechte plaat.

  • België, hoewel klein, viel op: een volledig Belgische finale bij de onder-18s, Julien Leclercq in de onder-21s finale, Wendy Jans die een 13e titel won, de Belgen die het teamevenement wonnen… Wat verklaart dit?

Ik ben erg blij voor België en vooral voor Julien die het heel erg verdient: ik zie veel hoop in hem.

Voor de rest vind ik België een snookerland. De ervaring die Luca Brecel Ben en Julien meebrengt en zijn deelname aan vele toernooien in België draagt ​​bij aan de bevordering van de discipline en dit wordt internationaal gevoeld. En laten we het goede werk van Dany Moermans, de bondscoach, niet vergeten.

Twee of drie jaar geleden streden de jonge Fransen tegen de Belgen, maar dat is niet meer het geval. In Frankrijk gebeurt er al 2 jaar niets aan snooker kant. Achteraf vragen we ons af waarom en daarom zullen de Fransen nu vaak in België spelen…

Daar is het, bedankt!

Dankzij jou, Stephane!

Plus quelques photos …

2022 European Masters Qualifiers – Day 1

The 2022 European Masters started yesterday.

There was just one “upset” at the tables: Stuart Bingham lost by 5-3 fo Fraser Patrick, and from 3-1 up aswell.

Here is WST report:

Lisowski Earns Fürth Berth

Jack Lisowski secured his place in the final stages of the BetVictor European Masters with a 5-2 defeat of Germany’s Simon Lichtenberg at qualifying in Cannock.

Gloucestershire cueman Lisowski top scored with a break of 138 in today’s encounter. The 30-year-old is a six-time ranking event finalist, but is still searching for maiden silverware. Lisowski will be seeking to rectify that when he travels to Fürth in Germany for the final stages in February.

Scotland’s world number 115 Fraser Patrick stunned 2015 World Champion Stuart Bingham to win 5-3. It’s Patrick’s second win on the circuit since regaining his professional status at Q School earlier this year. He has also qualified for next week’s BetVictor English Open.

Patrick had trailed 3-1 this evening, but claimed the last four frames to seal a trip to Germany. He made breaks of 55 and 80 en route to victory.

Former Crucible semi-finalist Andy Hicks edged a back and forth clash with Craig Steadman 5-4 to qualify. The Devon cueman crafted contributions of 56, 73 and 83 on his way to the win.

World number 17 Zhou Yuelong beat six-time Crucible finalist Jimmy White 5-2 and Louis Heathcote defeated 12-time women’s World Champion Reanne Evans 5-2.

Norwegian number one Kurt Maflin fired in a 141 break on his way to a 5-2 win over Allan Taylor, while Mark Davis beat Robert Milkins 5-3.

Qualifying continues on Thursday in Cannock.

There were more “upsets” off the tables.

Indeed Mark Williams had to withdraw both from this event and from the coming English Open. Mark is “tucked in bed” – his word – with covid-19.

Going by his last tweed, he’s not well at all.


I honestly hope that Mark will recover rapidly and completely. Get well soon Mark!

Here is WST statement:

Mark Williams has been forced to withdraw from BetVictor European Masters qualifying and the BetVictor English Open after testing positive for Covid-19.

Williams was set to face Yuan Sijun at the European Masters and Paul Deaville at the English Open. He will be replaced in both instances by Mark Lloyd, who was the first available player in the Q School Order of Merit.

Sam Craigie also withdrew from the European Masters quals. Going by what transpired on Facebook, he suffers from severe back pain. His “replacement”, James Cahill tested postivive with covid…  As a result Soheil Vahedi will make the trip to Fuerth.

Here is the statement by WST:

Sam Craigie has withdrawn from BetVictor European Masters qualifying in Cannock through injury, with his opponent Soheil Vahedi now receiving a bye through to the final stages.

James Cahill was on standby and was set to replace Craigie in the draw, but returned a positive lateral flow test for Covid-19 prior to play and was unable to compete as a result.

Life is seriously coming in the way of watching snooker at the moment for me, so I can’t comment on any of yesterday’ action.

Snooker players away from the baize…

Peter Devlin hasn’t really enjoyed much glory on the main tour so far, but was given a great opportunity to show … his showman side whilst helping WST to promote the coming English Open

Here is what he posted on his facebook page today:

Had a brilliant day as the guest at Milton Keynes Dons Stadium MK
Did a few interviews, and performed a rap live in front of just under 10,000 football fans. Standard 😂😂
Massive thanks to World Snooker Tour for giving me this opportunity to help promote the upcoming English Open, and the Snooker Tour in general 😁
Also met John Motson, and was a bit starstruck hearing his standout commentary voice in real life!

Asked by a friend if he enjoyed it, he replied:

(It) was awesome mate! I wish I could have that kind of confidence at snooker! Literally no nerves whatsoever doing that in front of thousands. But put a cue in my hand and different story 😂

Ronnie supports a terminally ill artist and is full of admiration for the positive way he deals with the situation

An award-winning artist is selling his work for charity after being diagnosed with brain cancer and given only months to live.

Antonio Russo from Bovingdon, AKA Stony, who went from being a street graffiti artist to winning global art prizes, is raising money for The Brain Tumour Charity.

The father-of-two, who was diagnosed in 2019, has been producing work with inspirational messages throughout his career and they have been bringing hope to people with cancer.

Snooker star and art lover Ronnie O’Sullivan has become a close friend after buying one of his canvasses.

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Antonio Russo

Mr O’Sullivan said: “He is a great friend to me. When I met him I thought ‘I really like this guy’ – he has a lovely way about him.

We stayed in, starting talking, eating and watching Formula 1.

Now I know his family – his daughter and son. We also come from neighbouring villages in Italy so we share that culture, so there was an Italian connection too.

I love his art. Antonio has his own unique way as an artist and I think it is fantastic.”

Ronnie O’Sullivan with Stony’s canvass

Mr Russo, 56, said: “I’ve been involved in art and music all my life and have been fortunate to travel the world and work with some amazing people.

I stay positive despite my diagnosis and it is fantastic that my work inspires people and helps them through tough times.

In January he was given six to nine months to live but has been on a clinical trial drug which he says he draws great strength from.

My cancer is terminal but I’m the biggest survivor in the world,” he added.

Artist Antonio Russo

Mr Russo continued: “Ronnie is a fantastic guy and a good buddy, and he’s also really knowledgeable about art.

I’ve got work in big galleries and have lots of high-profile clients but the most important thing for me is that my work touches people and helps them.

Mr Russo was born in Luton but moved to Sicily as a baby before returning with his family to the UK when he was 12.

He had been drawing and painting since he was three years old and was drawn to street art as a teenager.

Artwork by Stony

He added: “Graffiti was a way of expressing myself and I joined a community of street artists who were just dedicated to their art.

They were artists, not taggers who just went around painting their names or one design – I was always creative and colourful and it was about expressing myself through art.

Mr O’Sullivan said: “The illness is so bloody sad but he is so positive – he has a great spirit about him.

He never gives in – he always believes there is something better around the corner.