Ronnie booked his place in the 2021 Scottish Open by beating Jamie Jones by 4-3.
It was another excellent match. Ronnie’s weakest point was his long potting and it cost him a few times. He had the upper hand in the safety exchanges though. He applied himself from start to finish. He did show signs of frustration at times but was able to re-focus.
Here is the report by WST … even shorter than the previous ones.
Ronnie O’Sullivan edged an enthralling clash with Jamie Jones 4-3 to book his quarter-final place.
The Rocket made breaks of 96, 73, 85 and 66 on his way to this evening’s win. He now faces Li Hang in the quarters.
Fortunately for us, Eurosport is providing something more substantial:
SCOTTISH OPEN 2021 – RONNIE O’SULLIVAN WINS DECIDER TO BATTLE PAST JAMIE JONES IN INCIDENT-PACKED THRILLER
Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jamie Jones played out a thrilling Scottish Open tie that went the distance on Thursday night. In what was their first meeting, O’Sullivan edged it 4-3 with both players playing high-quality snooker but taking their frustrations out on the table.
Ronnie O’Sullivan was given a stern test but battled past world No 44 Jamie Jones when winning their decider in the Scottish Open last 16.
Both players hit the table in frustration during a thrilling encounter which also featured a wasp and high-quality breaks.
O’Sullivan eventually edged it 4-3, and he faces Martin O’Donnell or Li Hang in the quarters next.
“He will win a ranking tournament, he hits the ball far too good,” O’Sullivan said of Jones. “He was a brilliant junior, has come back onto the tour, and is a strong player. He played the better snooker tonight but maybe the experience won through.
“I felt like I made a few mistakes, but I’m trying. I got a flow now and again, but I was hanging on in there.”
On whacking the table, O’Sullivan said: “I’ve whacked the table, then [Stephen] Maguire’s given the table a thud. I’m thinking ‘oooh’. It was quite funny.
“You’re just so frustrated. I’m then watching [Mark] Selby’s game thinking [Anthony] McGill is doing miracles and then Selby does two tons back to back. You’re watching such good snooker then trying to play your own game. It’s great out there.”
A wayward safety shot from Jones gifted O’Sullivan an opening in the first frame, and a quick-fire break of 96 helped ‘The Rocket’ go 1-0 in front.
Jones, a semi-finalist at the Scottish Open last year, hit back with an impressive 131 – his fourth century of the season.
The clearance alerted O’Sullivan he was in for a tough contest, and he made his frustrations clear in the third frame when punching the table after losing positioning.
O’Sullivan made the most of his opportunity back at the table with a 73, and having clearly composed himself he took a 3-2 lead with an 85.
Despite being a frame away from defeat, it was Jones who stepped up in the sixth frame, and a quality 94 forced a decider in his first match against the six-time world champion.
Jones had the first chance when potting straight after O’Sullivan’s break, and he put 29 on the board before a tricky blue rattled the jaws and stayed out.
A tense safety exchange followed before O’Sullivan potted a loose red, and a 66 put him within touching distance of the next round.
Chasing three snookers, Jones left the yellow open but a surprising miss from O’Sullivan kept the Welshman in the frame.
It was soon over, however, with O’Sullivan sinking a long green to clinch it.
Eurosport also gave a more detailed account of the post-match in the studio. Here are the important bits:
“I’m then watching [Mark] Selby’s game thinking [Anthony] McGill is doing miracles and then Selby does two tons back to back. You’re watching such good snooker then trying to play your own game. It’s great out there.”
“He will win a ranking tournament, he hits the ball far too good. He was a brilliant junior, has come back onto the tour, and is a strong player. He played the better snooker tonight but maybe the experience won through.
“I felt like I made a few mistakes, but I’m trying. I got a flow now and again, but I was hanging on in there.”
After coming through two deciders in a row, O’Sullivan said: “I’m just patient, I’m applying myself now. If it don’t happen this week, or next week, it might at Sheffield. Who knows?”
“Maybe two months ago I would have just tried to clear up in that last frame and would have probably missed, but I was setting myself and focused on every shot. If I don’t pot, then fine, but if you’re going to win deciders in tournaments you have to get into that mindset and become a tough match player.
“I’ve been playing exhibition snooker for the last two, three, four years, I haven’t really applied myself properly to the professional tour, but I’ve had a good time. I wouldn’t change it, but obviously Covid happened, exhibitions stopped, and it allowed me to put a bit more time in.”
The commentators stressed that Ronnie and Jamie had never played each other before, which is surprising. Well, that’s not quite true. They met some 21 years ago, at the Premier League … and Janie Watkins remembered it well:
And finally, not about this match, but about the previous days controversy, Desmond Kane produced this piece:
SNOOKER’S REAL DISGRACE IS FAILING TO PAY PLAYERS FOR ENTERTAINING AFTER JOHN HIGGINS SLAMS RONNIE O’SULLIVAN
There is no reason why professional snooker players should not be paid for losing a match in the first round of a tournament. Qualifying for the sport’s main circuit is an outstanding level of success that should earn financial rewards as an accepted norm, writes Desmond Kane.
The language attached to professional sport continues to provide wonderful examples of gloriously unapologetic hyperbole.
Words like “disaster”, “fury”, “ignominy” and “absolute dross” have this week been trotted out to describe the England’s cricket team’s struggles during the Ashes first Test in Brisbane and Barcelona’s “humiliating” exit from the Champions League in Munich.
As ever, it is all nonsensical in comparison to real life tragedy and catastrophe, especially during times of a global pandemic, but sports scribes from time immemorial have always been given free rein to use exotic, over-the-top language in conveying what is seen through a sporting prism.
Yet it would hardly be fraternising with emotional embroidery to suggest professional snooker’s treatment of some of its financially struggling players is morally bankrupt and inherently damaging to the public image of a sport that has a mental health charter.
Ronnie O’Sullivan’s assertion during the Scottish Open that he would not want his son to pursue a living in snooker prompted the ire of his fellow world champion John Higgins, who described his old foe’s comments as a “disgrace” and “dreadful”, but something has got lost in translation between the potting patois of Chigwell and Wishaw when both men were essentially conveying the same message.
O’Sullivan was probably not suggesting he was against his son playing snooker for personal enjoyment with his mates in future. The point he was making was that as a career choice it might not be the wisest option when set against other solitary, more lucrative pursuits such as golf and tennis.
“It’s just timing I suppose. Maybe in another 25-30 years snooker might be back on top but at the moment I’d be like, ‘go and get a job mate.’ Forget playing snooker. That’s my honest opinion,” said O’Sullivan.
I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT THE WINNERS. I’M TALKING ABOUT THE GUYS THAT ARE RANKED 60, 70 IN THE WORLD THAT ARE STRUGGLING. IT’S NOT GOOD FOR THEM.
“If you compared the 125th golfer and what he earns and the 125th snooker player then he’d make a million dollars on the golf tour. You can afford to miss a few cuts because you can make enough money to offset the losses you might make.”
Higgins felt O’Sullivan’s train of thought was an abdication of duty to future generations, insisting Steve Davis or Jimmy ‘Whirlwind’ White would never have said something similar when he was a kid.
I WAS THINKING TO MYSELF, IF MY DAD HAD HEARD JIMMY WHITE OR STEVE DAVIS SAYING, DON’T LET YOUR KIDS GET INTO IT AND I WAS WANTING TO PLAY SNOOKER, HE’D SAY, NAH, STEVE DAVIS SAID YOU SHOULDN’T BE PLAYING SNOOKER NOW SO I’M NOT GIVING YOU THE MONEY TO GO DOWN AND PRACTISE.
There are merits to both points of view, but what cannot be disputed is that snooker has moved on, sometimes staggering on its feet to stay upright, from the time when Higgins and O’Sullivan were aiming to become the next Davis or White in the 1980s and the sport was a national obsession in the UK.
These days, like every other sport chasing a sprinkling of stardust and the financial oxygen of sponsorship, snooker is in the background compared to the all-conquering and all-consuming beast that is Premier League football.
To put snooker’s popularity into some kind of perspective, when Davis won the last three of his six world titles in 1987, 1988 and 1989, he snagged more money in those three years than golf’s Open champion – the £105,000 he enjoyed in 1989 dwarfed Mark Calcavecchia’s £80k for lifting the Claret Jug.
When Mark Selby earned £500,000 for lifting his fourth world title this year, the champion golfer of the year Collin Morikawa collected around £1,567,818 at Sandwich. The sports have gone their separate ways financially.
“Snooker players are no longer noticed like they were in the 80s when they walked down a street,” Davis told me in an interview. “There are more TV channels, people have other things to do, but the viewing figures remain very healthy.”
The standard has never been higher with tournaments increasing from eight to 16 under Barry Hearn’s astute chairmanship of World Snooker between 2010 until 2021 and prize money swelling from around £3.5m to £15m over the past decade, but it has also regressed in the way it treats players who qualify for the professional tour.
Before he retired from the role this year, Hearn continually argued the point that professional sport is cut-throat and snooker is survival of the fittest.
“You mustn’t sponsor mediocrity,” said Hearn. “Sport is brutal, to get to the top you must have ability. The growth of prize money in snooker recently has predominantly been at the top end and that will generally continue.
“My next round of prize money increases will more be geared towards the lower levels, but with the caveat that first-round losers will still get nothing. That follows the golf model that if you don’t make the cut, you don’t get paid.
“We don’t pay a wage, we create opportunity to change your life. There has to be a threshold to find out if you’re good enough, and if you’re not good enough you should get another job.”
The problems seem obvious and are easy to solve. There is not enough money in snooker to fund tournaments of 128 players and the finances that are available should be used to ensure every professional appearing at an event is paid for their success in qualifying for the tour. That is hardly rewarding failure.
“There are too many players on the tour,” opined the world number two Judd Trump. “Snooker is not big enough to support that amount of people. They probably need to cut the tour a little bit so the money is a lot more fairer.
IF YOU HAD MAYBE 96 PLAYERS, 64 PLAYERS PLAYING OFF TO PLAY AGAINST THE TOP 32, IT GIVES YOU A CHANCE AGAINST SOMEONE ELSE, EVERYONE GETS MONEY EVERY TOURNAMENT AND YOU REALLY FEEL LIKE YOU ARE A PROFESSIONAL THAT WAY.
The ongoing Welshman Dominic Dale was involved in a rollicking encounter with O’Sullivan in the first round of the Scottish Open on Monday that he lost 4-2. Having made breaks of 68 and 58, Dale looked set for a 3-2 lead after rolling in 52 only for his opponent to suddenly escape his torpor with exuberant runs of 77 and 132 securing progress.
Two players were involved in an enlivening match, but for his efforts and travel to Venue Cymru in Llandudno, Dale left with nothing. No money to cover his travelling expenses or hotel costs. There is nothing for losing in the first round, but O’Sullivan, the most successful player in the game’s history, was guaranteed £3,000 for reaching the second round.
In several aspects, this sounds like tinpot stuff for a professional sport in modern times. Entertain, but earn nothing sounds absurd.
“30% of the tour can’t afford a loaf of bread. Either give players expenses or cut the tour and guarantee everybody dough,” said the world number 43 Elliot Slessor, who has suffered financially damaging defeats in failing to qualify for the English Open, Scottish Open, UK Championship, German Masters and European Masters after earning £20,000 for his run to the British Open semi-finals in August.
While Zhao Xintong tops the sport’s one-year list with £206,000 after his rousing UK Championship success on Sunday, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, the bloke he defeated 6-5 on the black in the second round, occupies 64th spot with a paltry £12,500. The financial disparity is startling, farcical and arguably unfair between the summit and the game’s lower reaches.
The argument against funding aspiring snooker players at least £1,000 to cover costs for appearing at a tournament does not make sense from a moral sense or a professional duty of care.
Rather than the trivial tête-à-tête between Higgins and O’Sullivan, the real disgrace in snooker is failing to pay players for providing large clumps of entertainment for free.
I d not always agree with Desmond’s pieces, but I certainly do about this one!