Yesterday, Ronnie was in action for the first time since winning his 7th World Title at the Crucible early May and he won his three matches in the 2022 ranking CLS Group 1. Jamie Jones was dominant in Group 27.
O’Sullivan And Jones Through
World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and Welshman Jamie Jones got their seasons off to perfect starts, winning Groups One and 27 respectively at BetVictor Championship League Snooker at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.
O’Sullivan, starting the season as newly crowned seven-time Crucible king, opened his campaign with a quick-fire 3-0 win over Farakh Ajaib, a match in which he conceded just 46 points.
A closer tie against long-time practice partner Alfie Burden saw O’Sullivan concede his first frame of the group, and despite seeing Burden make the highest break of the match (79), it was the world number one who was the 3-1 victor.
Heading into the evening, O’Sullivan required just a point against Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher who had registered 3-1 wins against both Burden and Ajaib. The Rocket defeated Ursenbacher 3-1 with a century break (121) in the final frame, to maintain his perfect win record in the group, booking his spot in winners’ week.
Speaking afterwards, O’Sullivan said: “I just enjoyed playing, it felt good to be out there hitting balls again I suppose.
“Even if I play rubbish, it doesn’t bother me, I can quickly get over it and move on to the things I enjoy.”
It’s the first competitive outing on the baize for O’Sullivan following his historic seventh world title in Sheffield, reflecting on that feat he said: “I felt like my game was ok heading into Sheffield, it was enough to get the job done. The reaction was great, but also wasn’t great as I enjoy going under the radar these days.”
It was even more routine for Jamie Jones in Group 27 who qualified for winners’ week with a game to spare.
Jones started the day with a somewhat scrappy 3-1 victory over Estonia’s first ever professional snooker player Andres Petrov in the opening match on table two.
The Welsh potter found another level against former World Seniors Champion David Lilley, winning 3-0 with a group high break of 134 in the second frame. A break of 54 in the third and final frame enough to complete the win and earn a spot in winners’ week before facing Sam Craigie in what resulted in a 2-2 draw.
On his group victory, Jones said: “I’ve been practising well and playing as much as I’ve ever done in the off season. This year, I’ve done a little bit of coaching where in previous years I’d usually put the cue down for two months. Now, I feel sharp and am glad to get through to the next stage.
“I have been a notoriously slow starter to the season, so I did feel a little bit of pressure coming into today as I didn’t want to start this season how I usually do.
“I’m currently 31st [on the tour] and I’ve given myself the hefty goal of trying to get into the Masters by January. It’s a massive goal, but if you don’t aim high what are you going to achieve? I’d also love to pick up my first trophy this season.”
Ronnie didn’t play particularly well, but he certainly applied himself. Actually it was his positional game that let him down at times, which is extremely unusual. Maybe I misunderstood – my hearing is terrible – but I think that the commentators said that he’s playing with a new cue. That could explain some unusual mistakes.
In a part of the interview that the above report doesn’t mention, Ronnie downplayed his chances at the Crucible next year. My feeling is that he is determined not to allow the media putting pressure on him, and rightly so.
Michael Holt was in commentary and he said something unusual but very true about Ronnie: “He loves the game, he doesn’t always love the sport.“.
This is yesterday’s table:
The last match in Group 27 was a draw.
As usual, points and pounds were 3000 for the winner, 2000 for the runner-up, 1000 for third place and nothing for fourth place.
Matchroom have shared Ronnie’s matches on their YouTube Channel.
And the interview is there too.
Remarkably, this was actually the first time that Ronnie had beaten Alexander in a competitive match…
In Group 27, I had decided to watch Andres Petrov. The young man is obviously talented and plays an attacking game but I’m afraid that he will struggle on the professional tour. Without becoming a “defender”, he will need to play the percentages a bit more or he will be clobbered on a regular basis. At amateur level, he certainly was getting away with some of the mistakes I saw yesterday because, more often than not, his opponents weren’t able to table. Seasoned pros however will not let him off the hook.