Marko Pietari, who is a snooker journalist of Finland, and a member of snooker.org, was invited to an international conference with Ronnie and here is his account of it (translated from Suomi)
RONNIE O’SULLIVAN: “I STILL LOVE SNOOKER”
The highlight of the snooker season, the World Cup tournament at the legendary Crucible arena, starts on Saturday. Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan enters the tournament in pursuit of a historic eighth title. FinnSnooker, together with a few other media, got to interview O’Sullivan during the tournament. The crowd favorite, known by the nickname The Rocket, is once again one of the champion candidates.
The Crucible still fires
The tough, no less than 17-day World Cup tournament is unparalleled, and the longer you participate in the tournament, the harder it becomes. However, according to O’Sullivan, the most difficult matches are the first two.
“The first match of the World Cup tournament is always the hardest, anyone can lose in the first round. The second match will be just as difficult”, O’Sullivan assessed. From the semifinals, the tournament changes: men are separated from boys. The interview was conducted before the drawing was made, and the lottery threw O’Sullivan against Pang Junxu . The winner of the match pair will face Ding Junhui or Hossein Vafaei in the second round , so the luck of the draw could have been better.
Even though O’Sullivan has played in the Crucible 30 times already, the tournament still manages to ignite. “Of course, it feels different than the first or second time. Then you can be too enthusiastic. I’m not as enthusiastic anymore, but I’m more prepared. I’m still excited, but I’m keeping my feet on the ground better,” O’Sullivan said.
Large audiences and a tough level inspire the 47-year-old Englishman. It is probably no coincidence that in the two tournaments he won this season – the Hong Kong Masters and the Champion of Champions – the number of players was limited and the audience was large.
“If I like the tournament, I usually try a little harder. Other tournaments don’t necessarily excite as much, and then it’s a little harder to play well. I don’t want to explain, but the explanation of winning is not always just playing, sometimes the environment also matters. The bigger the crowd and the bigger the tournament, the more likely it is that the best will play their best,” reflected O’Sullivan.
The eighth championship would be historic
This year, O’Sullivan has the first chance of an eighth world title, which would take him past Stephen Hendry as the player with the most titles in the Crucible era. O’Sullivan admits that he would like to win more, but the eighth championship would not be an important milestone according to the man’s own words.
“Everyone is talking about the eighth, but if I win the eighth championship, I want the ninth. If I win ninth, I want tenth. I don’t want to set a numerical goal for myself“, commented the champion.
As a modest man, O’Sullivan does not take a stand on whether he is already the best snooker player of all time, but singles out Hendry in particular. However, the comments warm the heart: “It’s great to be involved in these discussions. If a player is involved in discussions about the best of all time, then it must have gone well.”
The season went moderately well
In the fall, O’Sullivan won two invitational tournaments, the Hong Kong Masters and the Champion of Champions. It hasn’t gone as well in the ranking tournaments, but the best results are two places in the quarterfinals. The number one in the world ranking is only ranked 23rd in the one-year ranking before the World Cup tournament.
If you ask O’Sullivan, the season has been average. Ranking tournaments didn’t go as well as others, but on the other hand, there weren’t as many big tournaments as there used to be. “There were no tournaments in China, and many of the tournaments were played on a best-of-seven system. Anything can happen in sprint tournaments, anyone can win. That’s why it’s hard to say who has played well this season,” he stated.
According to O’Sullivan, it’s not so much the mood that matters in the World Cup tournament, it’s the ability to withstand the pressure that counts. “If I get to the quarterfinals, everything is fine. Then it doesn’t matter how the season has gone up to that point. I’ve got two games down, I’m in shape and it’s more about how to handle the pressure. I think I’m good at it,” O’Sullivan analyzed.
In the silence of the Crucible, the pressure is palpable, after all it is the sport’s most prestigious tournament. Although O’Sullivan’s championships have often come when he has not been the biggest favorite, according to the man, the public’s expectations do not matter. The seven-time champion always sets the bar high for himself, but he believes he can handle the pressure well.
The elbow is fine at the moment
O’Sullivan’s career has been overshadowed by an elbow injury, which forced him to leave the previous tournament. According to The Sun, the injury dates back two years, but the mild ailment worsened in May and June when O’Sullivan used heavier than normal weights in the gym.
At least at the time of the interview, the situation felt good. “The elbow was treated a couple of days ago, and it feels much better now,” said the seven-time world champion in an interview with FinnSnooker last week. However, the WC tournament is physically demanding in a completely different way than any other tournament, so it remains to be seen how the elbow will withstand it.
I enjoy playing, but there are other plans
O’Sullivan has often glimpsed retirement, once winning his fifth world title after playing just one competitive match all season before the World Cup. At the moment, however, termination is not in sight.
“I want to compete as long as I can, so I spend a lot of time on the training tables and in the gym. I want to eat well and stay in good shape physically and mentally,” O’Sullivan stated. Staying in good shape and enjoying playing are important goals for the coming years, winning big tournaments is just icing on the cake – if the word of a man known for being competitive is to be trusted.
“I’ve been playing snooker pretty much all my life, and not playing is a sad thought,” O’Sullivan says, comparing himself to players on the Tour Champions tour for golf legends who have nothing left to prove and just play because they love it: “I feel like today in the same group. I enjoy challenges, travel, competition and I love the game. I still love playing.”
However, there are other plans as well. In addition to autobiographical books, there is a snooker-related coaching course in the works, and at some point the mind also touches on designing snooker tables, sticks, clothes and other products. It is said that even they could be made better than the current ones. It seems that the beloved sport will stay involved in life even after the end of the racing career that sometimes inevitably comes.
And two special journalists grilled some of the top players
Although there has been no announcement by WST about next season calendar, there are posters in Sheffield showing the provisional calendar for UK and European events in 2023/24. It’s quite disappointing. Only two events are scheduled in mainland Europe, both in Germany: the European Masters in Fürth and the German Masters in Berlin. The season will start with the lengthy ranking CLS again. All the usual events are in the calendar, but there has been a lot of “moving around” when it comes to the venue.
In a recent podcast, David Hendon – reacting to Ronnie’s concerns about the state of the game – had insisted that creating an identity for the events is important and that starts with a recognisable location and venue. He also admitted that the European market has not been developed as it should have been. It seems that WPBSA/WST aren’t listening …
Also this came out on social media today, a new event is scheduled in Hubei, China.
Given some of the things that happened in the past, fans may have their doubts about his participation, but my understanding is that his contract with his sponsor is such that he is committed to play in events held in China, Thailand and India.
But, but, but …
After Mark Williams wondered why this was announced on social media by Chinese accounts begore the players were informed Sinosports answered this: “A very good point. In fact both Shanghai Masters and Wuhan Open have only been announced by Chinese side and they have not been confirmed by WST yet.“
Three tour card have been allocated to CBSA this time and they are offered to the players who emerged from the qualifying events. They are: Jiang Jun, Xing Zihao and Long Zehuang. Provided they accept their tour card, they will join Ma Hailong on the main Tour next season.
Should any of the 3 tour card winners choose to forfeit their card(s), the card(s) would be awarded to other player(s) based on combined performance in the two qualifying events. The current top-up order top 3 is: Liu Hongyu, He Guoqiang and Chen Feilong.
Remarkably, three of the WST debutants Ma Hailong, Jiang Jun, and Xing Zihao, are all based at Li Jianbing Academy in Dongguan, Guangdong Province. Bai Yulu, who was runner-up at the 2023 World Women Snooker Championship also practices there. She did well in those qualifying events, but not quite enough.
The source of these informations in Sinosports on twitter.
12 thoughts on “14 April 2023 – Crucible Press Day, CBSA News and Announcements”
Personally I feel confused I can just find the CBSA tour card results in douyin (through CBSA academy.) but not on the CBSA official site itself.
and it scores in a live stream app. -_-
Sinosports tweeted the results of the qualifying event as they unfolded, as well as the names of the three laureates. Of course, they probably still need to officially accept their tour card.
It is fine Sinosports tweeted the results.
(but twitter is officially banned in mainland China. Though can be visited through VPN…)
There is a live scoreboard at https://sd.crand.cc/n.
Also, many of the matches were streamed on https://live.youku.com/channel/weblive.
One small correction: the European Masters is not in Fürth, but Nuremberg.
It’s probably the same place Ben. I have been in Fürth, it’s part of the Nuremberg area
like Chigwell is part of London.
No Monique, that’s not true. I live not far away from that region and I commented about it a few months ago on here. As I said back then they are 1 or 2 metro stations apart but as far as I know Fürth has never been part of Nuremberg, so that’s why I knew it could not be the same place. Also spontaneously found the fact that “a majority of the Fürth city council and the trade unions supported the incorporation of Fürth into Nuremberg, but was ultimately rejected by almost 65% of the population in a referendum on January 22, 1922.” On snookerstars.de, via which site Germans can get to the site on which they can purchase tickets for the evens, it is stated that the EM will be held at the KIA Metropol Arena in Nuremberg. A very important historical fact i for us Germans involving these two cities is that in 1835 the first ever railway in Germany ran between Nuremberg and Fürth.
Ah, OK thank you. I have been to Fürth a number of times, and indeed they are only a couple of metro stations apart. Also, if you travel by plane, of course, you land in Nuremberg. So WST used to refer to both locations without making the distinction. Thank you for clarifying that.
Didn’t you know that the World Snooker Championship 1987 wasn’t held at the Crucible but in Tschernobyl, Csilla?
LOL a radiant world championship then. 😝
Wuhan Open? That is the name of the first Chinese tournament after the pandemic? I know they would not/won’t do it if it’s not safe, but it still sounds an ominous label.
Lots of events. Expecting new title winners.
Considering the age of 40+…… No way I think top players going dominate events.
(It is too packed. Now it more demands the fitness of players…
If qualifiers are played in UK, they have to fly 5~6 more times…. :/)
Honestly feel the way WST adds more events in a way which is is away from players’ wish. (If the prize money is same as WST classic, the player loses money if not reaching last 16.)
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