Snooker success stories… and self-perception.

Yesterday WST shared this story …

World Championship Had 14 Million Streams On iPlayer

This year’s World Snooker Championship had a huge 13,922,000 streams on the BBC iPlayer, more than popular drama programmes such as Conversations With Friends and Doctor Who.

A report from BBC shows that snooker’s 17-day Crucible showpiece was the eighth most watched programme on the iPlayer between April and June this year, when compared to ‘boxset’ style shows. Wimbledon was the only sporting event to attract more streams over the same period, with 14,442,000 (albeit Wimbledon only ran for four days in June).

Conversations With Friends had 13,045,000 streams, with Doctor Who just behind on 12,913,000.

In May we reported that the final between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump had a peak audience of 4.5 million viewers on BBC, the highest figure for eight years.

Warner Bros. Discovery Sports, which shows the tournament in over 50 countries across Europe, also recorded extremely strong figures on its Eurosport linear channel. Overall the World Championship was its best tournament on record in the UK in terms of average audience and market share with the final seeing a 29% increase against 2021. Other countries including Italy, Poland, Spain, Germany and France also hit record numbers on Eurosport.

I know that some will disagree, just for the sake of it, but I’m 100% certain this mediatic success has to do with Ronnie winning it for the 7th time, and definitely sealing his status as the greatest snooker player of all times (so far).

And yet, he feels like he has underachieved… 

Ronnie O’Sullivan: ‘I feel like I’ve underachieved, that will never change’

Crucible2022ROSThinker - Getty
Ronnie O’Sullivan feels he could have won much more over his immense career (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan feels he has underachieved in his snooker career and will always feel that way, despite widely being considered the greatest player to ever pick up a cue.

The Rocket won his seventh World Championship title this year, equalling Stephen Hendry’s record tally and largely ending the debate to which of the two is snooker’s GOAT.

At 46 years old O’Sullivan is back at the top of the world rankings and won his latest Crucible crown in some style, largely looking untroubled despite facing the likes of John Higgins and Judd Trump along the way.

His achievements on the table are immense, but he feels that there could and should have been more silverware in the cabinet over his epic career, having turned professional back in 1992.

This is not the Rocket whinging or getting down on himself, he describes himself as ‘comfortable’ with what he has achieved, but his mindset will never let him be fully satisfied.

I’m comfortable with what I’ve achieved in my sport. I’m up there, me and Hendry, it’s a debate, I’m happy to be in the debate,’ O’Sullivan told The Climb Podcast. ‘But I’m comfortable with the facts and what I’ve done over the years.

Whether I feel like I’ve done a good job or not, I don’t think I have, I feel like I could have done better, I feel like I’ve underachieved.

That will never change, but facts speak for themselves, I’m comfortable with getting out my piece of paper and saying: “That’s my CV, what do you reckon? Do I get the job?

I’m comfortable that my results have allowed me to not worry about not playing well, not winning tournaments, getting beat in the quarters, people judging me.

O’Sullivan has often felt that he needs to prove himself to people over his career, given the enormous expectation that has been on him since his teenage years, but he says that is no longer in his mind.

The legend of the baize feels he can now block out any comments on his performances or results from those who clearly don’t know what it is like to be in his shoes.

They don’t even know what it’s like to be where I’ve been, where I go,’ he continued. ‘It’s a very lonely place with people talking like they know what it’s like to be there, they couldn’t stand it for five minutes, they’d run a mile.

Crucible2022ROSWinner-16.jpgO’Sullivan made yet more snooker history with his seventh world title in May (Picture: Getty Images)

The pressure, the anxiety, the stress and expectations that come with it, it takes a lot more than just being talented.

It takes character, bollocks, courage, all sorts of things…dedication, discipline, challenging yourself, it takes you wanting to take yourself apart and build yourself back together.

That ain’t easy to do, but you’ve got to be willing to do that to be one of the most successful people at what you do.

So I don’t worry about what people say or think about me anymore, because they don’t know.’

Those feelings are genuine and they have to do with Ronnie’s own perfectionist and anxious nature. But I believe that they also have to do with the weigth of “external” expectations, and faith, coming from the media and … from his own father. It’s good that he doesn’t allow them to bother him anymore.

I remember once sitting in a media room with Phil Yates. Phil was telling me how Ronnie was a massive underachiever. It’s true that, at the time, Ronnie had “only” won three World titles. In the course of the discussion, I pointed out to Phil all the things that Ronnie had had to overcome as a very young person, without even being allowed some privacy to deal with his griefs and issues: both parents going to prison, personal issues with depression, alcohol and drugs, etc… Contrary to so many others, he had come out of those things, better and stronger and achieved a lot. Phil and me ended up agreeing that judging Ronnie on talent only, not taking into account the circumstances of his life, wasn’t actually fair.

Ronnie Senior is an extremely proud father who has total faith in his son’s capabilities, more faith than his son himself actually. It’s great but sometimes it’s hard to take too,  because the said son is only human and Senior can be brutal at times. Here is an telling anecdote… Ronnie and me were in his car, on our way to one of the Premier League features. Ronnie wasn’t looking forward to it. That night he was due to play his close friend Jimmy White. Jimmy was going through a bad patch, financially as well as healthwise. Ronnie only needed two frames that nigth to secure his play-offs place. His heart was telling him to maybe not try that hard and give Jimmy some chances, his honesty was telling him to block those feelings out and try his best. He wasn’t in a good place, he had told me so much but still ended up winning that match by 6-0… During the trip his father called. He was all fighting talk. He however sensed that his son was not on the same “tune”, got angry and started to shout and say some very harsh words, including “underachiever”. He probably only wanted to spur him up, but it actually hurt Ronnie, badly. I could see that he was close to tears.


One thought on “Snooker success stories… and self-perception.

  1. No doubt that the World Championship was followed by this high viewership because of Ronnie’s quest for the 7th and the wonderful play he displayed. (Pun unintended.) Take that Hossein Vafaei and Luca Brecel! To think that his arm/elbow was already hurting last season is a frightening thought.

    (Incidentally I should really let my nightmares about it go, but the European Masters final was indeed a huge upset, especially since Ronnie played well in that tournament then looked flat and tired in the final and that did not bode well for the future and certainly did not foreshadow what was one of the most impressive marches for a world title.)

    This underachieving-debate does not lead far. Maybe Ronnie could have won more and sooner, but aside his personal issues. he might have burnt out too and retired younger.

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