Stéphane Ochoiski présente Ronnie pour les lecteurs francophones

Stéphane Ochoiski est Français. Il est passionné de snooker. Il est joueur, coach, et le père de Brian Ochoiski qui s’est récemment illustré en tant que “top-up” dans le main tour. Stéphane a aussi travaillé avec Eurosport France en tant que consultant.

Voici la traduction du “profil” de Stephane par la WPBSA.

En tant que joueur, Stéphane Ochoiski a commencé à jouer au snooker en 1990 et il a remporté six championnats de France, a été numéro un français  à de nombreuses reprises et a remporté plus de 15 titres en compétitions nationales.

Il a également été un joueur international représentant la France à 39 reprises, et souvent en tant que capitaine de l’équipe. Il est le premier et le seul joueur français à avoir joué en direct sur Eurosport lors un événement pro en 2015 à Fuerth lors du Paul Hunter Classic. Son adversaire était Stephen Maguire.

Stéphane a ouvert sa propre académie de snooker en France en 1991. En 1995, il a ouvert la première école de snooker française et il a entraîné plus de 5000 personnes depuis. Il a joué un rôle important dans le développement du snooker en France.

Il a également été entraîneur national français pour les juniors et les hommes pendant de nombreuses années et beaucoup de champions de France ont été formés par Stéphane. Il est également devenu coach international et a entraîné des aspirants joueurs en Albanie, en Allemagne, en Suisse, au Maroc, en République tchèque et en Belgique.

Stéphane a maintenant plus de 30 ans d’expérience dans le snooker et collabore avec des entraîneurs tels que Chris Henry, Nic Barrow, Alan Trigg et bien d’autres.

Le snooker n’est pas très développé en France, ni en Belgique francophone. Attirer plus de fans, et de joueurs dans ces régions, est un projet qui tient beacoup à coeur à Stéphane, comme à moi-même.

A la veille du Championnat du Monde 2021, il a voulu partager cette présentation du tenant du titre avec les lecteurs francophones.

RONNIE O SULLIVAN LA LEGENDE VIVANTE DU SNOOKER’

Du 17 avril au 3 mai 2021, les meilleurs joueurs de snooker de la planète seront réunis au CRUCIBLE Theater de Sheffield pour le Championnat du monde de snooker professionnel.

CrucibleSetup2020

Qui succèdera à Ronnie O’Sullivan, sacré en 2020 vainqueur de Kyren Wilson en aout dernier ?

Ronnie O’Sullivan, lauréat de l’épreuve à six reprises, remet son titre en jeu. « The Rocket » voudra encore s’inscrire davantage dans la légende du snooker. Voici un portrait de ce champion hors norme.

Ses débuts : Un génie

Ronald Antonio « Ronnie » O’Sullivan est un joueur de snooker professionnel, il est né le 5 décembre 1975 à Wordsley. Son jeu rapide lui a valu le surnom de « The Rocket ». Ronnie a grandi et vit toujours à Chigwell, dans le comté d’Essex, au nord de Londres. Il a fait ses études au Wanstead High School à Londres.

Sa carrière commence très tôt : il n’a en effet que 10 ans lorsqu’il réussit son premier century, avec une série (break) de 117 points. Il réalise son premier 147, break maximum, à 15 ans.

YoungRonnie

Il devient professionnel en 1992 à 16 ans. Il gagne ses 38 premiers matchs en tant que professionnel, un record qui est toujours d’actualité. Il perd au premier tour contre Alan Mc Manus sur le score de 10 manches à 7, et finit sa première saison classé 57e.

En novembre 1993, à l’âge de 17 ans, il remporte le championnat du Royaume Uni, battant Stephen Hendry 10-6 en finale et devient le plus jeune vainqueur d’un tournois « ranking ». Ce record tient toujours aujourd’hui.

En novembre 1997, il remporte pour la deuxième fois le championnat du Royaume-Uni, battant à nouveau Stephen Hendry 10-6 en finale, inaugurant ainsi une des rivalités les plus en vue de ce sport.

O’Sullivan atteint les demi-finales du championnat du monde en 1999. Il perd cette demi-finale 17-14 contre Stephen Hendry, dans un match où les deux adversaires réalisent huit centuries – quatre chacun – et quatorze autres breaks supérieurs à cinquante points.

En 2001, O’Sullivan remporte son premier titre de champion du monde (qu’il dédie à son père), sur une victoire 18-14 contre John Higgins, et son 3e titre au championnat du Royaume-Uni, avec une victoire 10-1 contre Ken Doherty.

La saison 2002-2003 est également un succes, avec un Ronnie O’Sullivan gagnant le Masters d’Écosse, l’Open d’Europe, le Masters d’Irlande. En revanche, sa saison s’achève sur une note décevante quand il est éliminé du championnat du monde au premier tour, pour la 3e fois de sa carrière, perdant 10-6 contre Marco Fu, malgré un 147 pendant le match. Cette défaite le fait descendre à la 3e place dans le classement mondial.

En janvier 2004, Le père de Ronnie téléphone à Ray Reardon, sextuple champion du monde dans les années 1970, et lui demande s’il peut donner quelques conseils à son fils Ronnie. Avec le soutien de Reardon, Ronnie revient au sommet de sa forme, et remporte le championnat du monde 2004, dédiant à nouveau cette victoire à son père.

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O’Sullivan credits Reardon with teaching how to become a winner (Picture: Getty)

En route, il bat Stephen Hendry 17-4 en demi-finale, ce qui reste à ce jour la plus lourde défaite à ce stade d’un championnat du monde en demi-finale. Il bat ensuite Graeme Dott en finale, 18 manches à 8. Il se classe numéro un mondial pendant les deux saisons suivantes.

Son style :

Ronnie O’Sullivan se caractérise par un jeu très rapide, ce qui lui a valu le surnom de « The Rocket » (la fusée). Il est réputé pour sa vision du jeu et sa capacité à bâtir des breaks (break-building) avec facilité et précision.

Son « jeu long » (tirs à longue distance) est de très bonne qualité, il a aussi beaucoup progressé dans le jeu défensif ces dernières années, ce qui le rend encore plus redoutable.

Il est considéré comme un des meilleurs défenseurs du circuit, mais ce n’est pas « son » jeu et souvent il refuse de se laisser entrainer dans de longs échanges défensifs.

Il a aussi la particularité d’être ambidextre : il peut aussi bien jouer de la main droite que de la main gauche. Il ne se prive pas d’alterner au cours d’une même série (break).

Depuis que Ronnie a lancé ce style à lui CAD être capable de jouer vite et parfaitement des deux mains, beaucoup tentent de l’imiter…

Beaucoup de jeunes joueurs s’inspirent de lui, il a vraiment révolutionné la façon de jouer au snooker, Ronnie fait paraître ce jeu si compliqué, simple et beau à voir.

Son palmarès : Un résumé et beaucoup de records

Il a été champion du monde de snooker à six reprises (2001, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2013 et 2020). Il détient le record de victoires au Masters de snooker (sept titres) et au championnat du Royaume-Uni (sept titres). Il a ainsi remporté 20 titres sur des tournois de la triple couronne, un record.

Il détient aussi le record de victoires dans les tournois ranking (comptant pour le classement mondial), avec 37 victoires. O’Sullivan totalise plus de 12 millions de livres de gains financiers acquis en tournois.

Il est considéré par certains de ses pairs et par les fans de snooker comme le joueur le plus talentueux de l’histoire de ce sport. Il est le seul joueur de snooker ayant dépassé la barre des 1000 centuries (break supérieur à 100 points). Il est maintenant à 1100 centuries.

Ronnie 1000 centuries

Lors du championnat du monde 1997, il réalise le break maximal (147 points) le plus rapide : initialement mesuré à 5 minutes 20 secondes, son temps d’exécution a été revu récemment à 5 minutes 8 secondes. Il a d’ailleurs aussi le record du nombre de breaks de 147 points à son actif ; il en a réalisé quinze au total.

Aux championnats du monde, reportés au mois d’août 2020 suite à la crise sanitaire, Ronnie O’Sullivan s’impose en finale 18-8 contre Kyren Wilson. Ce dernier étant revenu à 8-10 au début de la troisième session n’a ensuite plus remporté une seule manche.

En demi-finale, il bat Mark Selby 17-16 après avoir été mené 14-16. Il totalise 12 centuries breaks au cours du tournoi.

Ronnie, bien que peu à l’aise avec sa technique en finale remporte ici son sixième titre de champion du monde, son 37e tournoi classé (record absolu) et, auréolé de ce nouveau trophée, est proclamé sans équivoque comme le meilleur joueur de tous les temps.

Il gagne également la somme de 500 000 livres, ce qui constitue son plus gros gain en carrière. Il finit la saison à la deuxième place du classement mondial.

Sa cote de popularité : Le joueur de billard le plus connu au monde

Il est probablement le plus grand joueur de snooker de tous les temps. Et aussi le plus controversé.

Il aime provoquer, souvent dans le but d’obtenir une réaction « positive » ou d’amuser.

“Je suis un génie” avait twitté Ronnie suite à sa victoire aux Championnats du monde de Snooker en 2013. “Je suis un docteur en Snooker et je suis un génie”.

Depuis Ronnie a plusieurs fois fait dans le grandiose, disant que le snooker manquait de piquant, souffrait d’une crise de personnalité et avait besoin de personnalité comme Tiger Woods l’a été en golf ou Cantona au football.

“Le snooker a besoin de stars comme moi”, avait dit Ronnie O’ Sullivan après avoir remporté son cinquième titre mondial. “Chaque sport a besoin d’une étoile, et lorsque celle-ci disparaît, le sport perd de son intérêt.

“Le snooker sans Ronnie, c’est comme une pizza sans sauce piquante” avait-il ajouté.

 

Certains joueurs essaient de m’imiter, mais ce n’est pas naturel. Je suis un peu limite par moments, mais c’est vraiment moi. Je suis comme ça et je fais ça de façon naturelle. “.

Il avait poursuivi en disant que “À certains égards, je pense que c’est ce que les gens veulent de moi : me voir jouer, quel que soit le résultat. Je suppose que pendant ces 10 dernières années, j’ai été le joueur préféré des supporters, ce qui ne rend pas les choses plus faciles, mais qui est très motivant.”.

Dernier exemple en date, sa petite pique à la nouvelle génération.

Suite à une victoire en conférence de presse, il ne s’est pas fait prier pour dézinguer les jeunes joueurs qu’il affronte sur le circuit.

« Si tu regardes les jeunes qui arrivent, ils ne sont pas vraiment bons, avait déclaré O’Sullivan au micro de la BBC. La plupart d’entre eux ont tout juste le niveau amateur, et encore. Ils sont tellement mauvais qu’on devrait me couper un bras et une jambe pour que je sorte du top 50. Voilà pourquoi les vieux sont encore là, parce que le niveau des jeunes est vraiment médiocre. »

Tous ces dires avaient alors attiré les commentaires dépités de la plupart des observateurs avertis. Suite à cela, dans une interview ultérieure Ronnie a expliqué que son but était de les stimuler et de les pousser à s’améliorer. Sept fois Champion du Monde, Stephen Hendry estime, à juste titre, que le snooker serait plus triste sans la présence de Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Ronnie serait apparemment atteint de désordre bipolaire mais une chose est sure sans lui le snooker ne serait pas, selon moi, devenu aussi populaire.

Sa saison 2020/21 : Cinq finales perdues

Ronnie perd d’entrée au Masters d’Europe contre le jeune et talentueux Aaron Hill, 18 ans (5-4).

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O’Sullivan suffered a shock defeat to 18-year-old Aaron Hill on Thursday

Début novembre, il est convié comme chaque année à participer au champion des champions, et s’incline en quart de finale contre Mark Allen.

Au tournoi suivant l’Open d’Irlande, il atteint la finale du tournoi pour la troisième année consécutive, dominant tour à tour Stevens, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, Ding Junhui et Ali Carter. Comme les deux années précédentes, il est stoppé par Judd Trump, et qui plus est sur le même score de 9-7.

O’Sullivan aborde donc le premier tournoi de la triple couronne (championnat du Royaume-Uni) de la saison en confiance. Au premier tour, il retrouve Leo Fernandez, joueur qu’il n’a plus affronté depuis 21 ans. Ronnie s’impose en proposant une prestation convaincante (quatre demi-centuries et un century).

Au deuxième tour, il retrouve le jeune joueur suisse Alexander Ursenbacher. Comme au tournoi du pays de Galles de 2019, il se fait surprendre par le Suisse, qui le bat en manche décisive.

La semaine suivante, il atteint la finale de l’Open d’Écosse pour la première fois depuis vingt ans, après des victoires contre Tian Pengfei et Robbie Williams, malgré des problèmes de « tip » (embout d’une queue de billard), puis contre Li Hang en demi-finale. Il finit par s’incliner contre Mark Selby (9-3).

Son année 2020 prend fin au Grand Prix mondial, où il bat Ali Carter, Barry Hawkins et Kyren Wilson, avant de s’incliner contre Trump en demi-finale.

Début 2021, lors de son quart de finale aux Masters, Ronnie O’Sullivan affronte John Higgins pour la 65e fois de sa carrière. Les deux hommes ont réalisé cinq centuries consécutifs, égalant le record des Masters. John Higgins s’impose et atteint la finale.

À l’Open du pays de Galles, Ronnie O’Sullivan dispute sa 3e finale dans les tournois des Home Nations cette saison, qu’il perd face à Jordan Brown sur le score de 9 manches à 8. Il s’agit donc d’une 3e défaite en finale cette saison, après l’Open d’Irlande du Nord et l’Open d’Écosse.

WelshOpen2021BrownROSHandshake

La semaine suivante, Ronnie O’Sullivan dispute la finale du championnat des joueurs avec John Higgins. Les deux hommes ne se sont plus affrontés en finale d’un tournoi ranking depuis 2005.

Ronnie enregistre un quatrième échec cette saison en finale de tournois ranking, bien qu’il ait réalisé le meilleur break du tournoi avec une série de 144 points.

Fin mars au championnat du circuit, O’Sullivan subit une cinquième défaite de rang cette saison en finale contre un Neil Roberston impressionnant.

Ronnie O Sullivan va-t-il conserver son titre en 2021 ?

 

Réponse dès ce samedi 17 avril « The rocket » ouvrira le tournoi comme la coutume le veut samedi à 11h. Il sera opposé au premier tour à Mark Joyce un débutant au Crucible.

2021 Crucible Build-up – Hector Nunns about Ronnie and his status in the game

This was shared by WST this afternoon

Can The Rocket Reach Seventh Heaven?

A seventh world title for Ronnie O’Sullivan is likely to also see him hailed as the greatest ever.

By Hector Nunns

Is this the year to hail the undisputed greatest snooker player of all time? That is the question on the minds of many snooker fans ahead of this year’s Betfred World Championship, if not so much for defending champion and reluctant hero Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Ronnie aimingThe Rocket claimed a sixth world title at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield in August beating Kyren Wilson in the final, leaving him just one short of Stephen Hendry’s record seven triumphs in the 17-day marathon of mind and body on snooker’s most iconic stage.

The current world number two, O’Sullivan has been at pains to stress that his form this season has been “mediocre”. There have been moments and flashes of brilliance, and those have helped take him to five ranking tournament finals.

Unusually for O’Sullivan, with a 70 per cent win rate in such showpieces at the beginning of the campaign, he has lost all of them. He even openly questioned whether his hunger and killer instinct were as keen given a more laid-back approach to life and the game these days.

And he has certainly been playing down any questions about equalling Hendry’s most cherished record, having already overtaken him on ranking titles (37), the major tournaments also including the Masters and UK Championship (20), 147 maximum breaks (15) and centuries (1,102).

O’Sullivan, who has had lots to say about many other issues in the build-up to this year’s World Championship, said: “I suppose winning a seventh world title is now a real possibility. But I will be happy if I don’t embarrass myself.

“I would never want to go to the Crucible and have an absolute stinker. That is my starting point. And then if I can win a couple of matches, then great. You just don’t want to make a fool of yourself.

Crucible 2020 Final HandshakeFormer world champion Ken Doherty is clear on the issue. He said: “It would befit Ronnie’s career if he did win a seventh to equal Stephen Hendry. Whenever the question is posed out there ‘who is the greatest?’, many would already say it is Ronnie O’Sullivan.

“But that world title tally is always there, Stephen has the most. Ronnie knows that, it is always raised. It would be the cherry on the cake of his other achievements, and then for me he would be the undisputed best of all time.”

Legend Hendry, now 52 and having made a comeback this season after nine years in retirement, was brutally honest about the prospect of seeing his record matched. He said: “I am not going to lie, I would be disappointed if Ronnie equalled that record.

“So I’m not going sit there and think ‘Oh no, it doesn’t matter’, because it does matter – it is a record I hold very proudly. If he equals it, fair play to him, and you could only say that’s an incredible achievement. He is a phenomenal snooker player, and sportsman. Is there anyone else as talented at their sport? But I’m certainly not going to lie and say that I would be over the moon about it!”

O’Sullivan has spoken this week about time spent relaxing with his artist friend Damien Hirst, revealing: “We get together, mix a few paints up, get the old stirring pot out, put it all on a canvas. I love painting with him, it’s very therapeutic.”

There has been a minor cue crisis in the build-up to the blue-riband event, though that looks to have been solved with emergency repairs by John Parris. And O’Sullivan will be replicating last year’s successful routine before and after matches while he remains in the draw – heading out to the west of Sheffield and running to the edge of the nearby Peak District.

O’Sullivan, back up to around 35-40 miles a week after recovering from injury, said: “There are some great routes and it’s nice to be doing some different ones. We go up to Endlcliffe Park, and keep going until we get to the Peaks and then come back again.”

ros-action-CrucbleIt looks an open tournament, and the betting reflects that. Sponsors Betfred have world number one Judd Trump as favourite at 7/2 for a second world title, and O’Sullivan at 5-1. However Neil Robertson (also 5-1), Mark Selby (13-2) and John Higgins (10-1) all have strong claims.

Some shrewdies believe Kyren Wilson will one day lift the trophy, and Yan Bingtao, who won the Masters in January, has one more chance to  take another of Hendry’s records by a single month – that of being the youngest ever world champion. Hendry was 21 when his era of dominance began in 1990.

But all eyes on opening day will be, as they usually are, on O’Sullivan – a spotlight he has had to cope with as the sport’s box office king for three decades. His half of the limited capacity arena is sold out, and they along with millions of TV viewers will be looking for the Rocket to run through a repertoire that has brought him success and adulation in equal measure.

Good luck Ronnie!

Peter Devlin responds to the trolls and it’s brilliant!

Recently, following a defeat, Peter Devlin was sent very aggressive, nasty messages and even death treaths on social media. It hurt … it hurt to lose and it hurt to be insulted and treathened as a result. His response is brilliant. 

He asked fans to share to raise awareness. Here goes and it’s my pleasure to help him and all sportspersons who are the victims of sore, pathetic disappointed gamblers.

I’m a mathematician but you don’t need to be one to understand this simple fact: if so many bookies stay in business and prosper, it’s because they WIN more money rhan they pay out, which in turn means that gamblers LOSE more than they win. It’s no rocket science. So, if you gamble, don’t complain about losing money, nobody forces you, and if you think that you are smart enough to “beat the system” you are deluded. Those guys have insider information and stats that you don’t have and never will have.

 

2021 Crucible – before it starts …

There were concerns about tomorrow second session scheduling at the Crucible because of the Duke of Edinburgh funerals will take place tomorrow afternoon.

WST has made the following announcement:

Minute’s Silence To Honour The Duke Of Edinburgh

Matches will be paused at the Betfred World Championship on Saturday for a minute’s silence to honour Prince Philip, who died last week at the age of 99.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral takes place on Saturday at Windsor Castle, with the service starting at 3.00pm.

At the same time, both matches will be paused on the opening day at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. Players, referees and fans will observe the minute’s silence in the arena. The four players and two referees will wear black armbands.

A spokesman for WST said: “This will be the first time in the 94-year history of the Championship that we have paused matches in order to honour the Royal Family and a country that is in mourning. The session will start at 2.30pm as planned and then just before 3pm the matches will be paused. This event is broadcast to over 100 countries around the globe so people watching worldwide can pay their respects to Prince Philip at the same time.”

Then, of course, experts go for their previews …

David Hendon and Michael McMullan discuss theirs in the latest Snooker Scene podcast

It’s an interesting conversation as always and there are three points that particularly attracted my attention:

  • David Hendon is tipping Ronnie and Kyren Wilson to make the final again, with the same winner but a closer match. And IF Ronnie wins, he expects him to go for eight. Well, I wouldn’t complain if he was proved right. I just wish I was more confident.
  • The two discuss Judd Trumps’ ideas to “fix” snooker … and … their conclusion is that all his complaints about the pundits excessive focus on the past come down to himself wanting more attention. That made me smile!
  • The fact that David Gilbert, a semi-finalist two years ago, really needs to win. If he doesn’t he will be in a battle for his tour survival in the coming season. Just shows you how brutal the system is now.

Despite all the precautions taken by WST, Ronnie is still unneasy with having fans around

‘Rocket’ warns he will ‘kick off’ if fans invade his space at Crucible

Ronnie - Betway UK Championship

Ronnie O’Sullivan has warned that he will “kick off” if fans invade his personal space during the World Snooker Championship, after fearing that his mother would die from Covid-19.

Crowds will be permitted inside Sheffield Crucible’s Theatre throughout the tournament, where O’Sullivan will start the defence of his title on Saturday, beginning with 33 per cent capacity for the first round and potentially rising to a full crowd for the final. O’Sullivan, who is 45, is hoping to get his vaccine in the coming weeks and, as easily the sport’s most popular and recognisable personality, has urged World Snooker to make sure that there is some level of security for players coming in and out of the venue.

I’m not fine with people coming close to me, I’m just really not, and I would kick off,” he told Sporting Life.

You get these crazy fans and people putting those autograph (books) in front of you, and coming up and wanting a selfie.

And if I don’t get a level of protection or feel safe in Sheffield, I’m not sure whether I would feel comfortable being there.

O’Sullivan is supportive of World Snooker being used to trial the indoor return of fans, who must have tested negative for
Covid-19 either on the day of the match or the day before.

He will, however, personally avoid busy restaurants and crowded indoor spaces for several years until much more is known about the disease, and particularly the impacts of long Covid.

O’Sullivan’s mother, Maria, required a ventilator and antibiotics after suffering from a Covid-19 infection.

There will be two tests for spectators at the World Snooker Championship, the first of which will take place at a UK government test centre local to their area. This test is free.

Fans must then take a test five days after they were at the tournament with a free home kit.

All spectators will also have to ‘check in’ at the venue using the NHS Track and Trace app.

O’Sullivan could equal Stephen Hendry’s modern day record of seven world titles should ‘The Rocket’ again triumph over the coming weeks. World No 1 Judd Trump, who will face a qualifier in the opening round, starts the tournament as favourite.

No player more than Ronnie gets this type of stalking by fans. People wanting to touch him, kiss him, shake his hand at the stage door or whenever he walks through the city, or sits in a restaurant. I have seen it close up on several occasions when we had lunch together: people shoving their cell phone right in his face whilst he was eating. people pushing their kids on his lap to take pictures, people sitting right next to him and wanting his attention for a conversation, despite him being there with friends … even worse, once, a guy had taken a picture when he was in the toilets and was then circulating the picture around in the crowd. That was at an exhibition, and years ago , but still!

Neil Robertson agrees with Ronnie, as he told the BBC

You don’t want to be mixing with people, even if they have the best intentions – if you were to pick it [Covid-19] up, you would be out of the event,” said Robertson.

I am going to have a policy this year where I am not stopping for socially-distanced selfies or signing anything. You just can’t afford to do that on the ridiculous chance of catching it. It would be pretty disastrous.

Of course the press spoke to other players too

Neil Robertson is confident 

The way I have been playing this season, I am not really too worried about who I am playing,” said Robertson.

If you ask Liang, he probably won’t be too happy about the draw, whereas I am not really too fussed on who I am playing, it is about how I approach the game.

“If I play well, I think I will win. It will be a tough game, but hopefully I will have too much (for him).

“This season I have always played matches on my terms, they have always been aggressive, open games which brings the best out of me.

“I have just got to concentrate on people being worried about what I can bring to the match, rather than stopping other people from playing. I have just got to go out to attack as well as I can.”

….

Judd Trump misses the people coughing and the mobile phones going off …

“You miss the coughing and the mobile phones going off,” Trump told BBC Radio 5 Live.

When you are losing and you get a frame or two behind [without fans], it is so much easier to give up because you feel nobody is there to see it.

When you’ve got a crowd you sometimes take a toilet break just to get the roar of the fans and get them calling your name to get you back in the game. So it makes a huge difference.

“I need the fans there just to bring out the best in me. Just adding more nerves and excitement helps my concentration.”

I feel my game is there for another win,” added the 2019 world champion. “It is such a long time, 17 days, that you can’t peak for every single game. You’ve got to be mentally prepared to go through hell to win the tournament.

“It’s been quite draining seeing the same surroundings over and over again. It feels like you are playing the same tournament over and over again. You’re in the same hotel rooms and are just on your own.

“It’s just going to be nice to take someone to the Crucible to have in your corner and help you through dark times in a game.

Shaun Murphy gave a rather emotional interview

Shaun Murphy interview: I hope the crowds bring back my spark, otherwise I’m in serious trouble

Matt Majendie

If Shaun Murphy won a tournament, the celebration would be food and drink. If he was commiserating a loss, it would be pizza.

When the World Snooker Championship begins at the Crucible on Saturday, he will weigh two stone lighter than he was on January 1. His battle with weight is not won, he says, but is now more under control.

I’m an emotional eater,” he said. “My relationship with food nosedived. Treats and food were a reward mechanism coaching me as a kid… a Mars Bar if you do this.

“This has manipulated to a monster of 30 years later where I can’t have a bar of chocolate, I have to have six. It’s been hard work addressing it, it’s doubly hard on tour. I’ve strayed a few times and paid the penalty.

Murphy has signed up to Overeaters Anonymous, Weightwatchers and Slimming World over the years but a charity head to head with snooker MC Phil Seymour, labelled Snooker’s Biggest Loser, has proved the catalyst in losing the pounds.

The aim was to see who could drop the most weight in 2021 leading up to the Worlds. Murphy lost, which he hopes is his only Crucible defeat of the next two-and-a-half weeks.

During the various lockdowns of the past year, Murphy’s game has struggled but he hopes snooker’s biggest tournament can act as a springboard for change with spectators allowed back in for one of the Government’s test events.

I need that extra buzz from the performing element to a live audience to bring out the best in me,” he said. “My wife says I’m the biggest show-off she’s ever met and snooker is merely my vehicle to let that out.

“I love that performing element. If I wasn’t a snooker player, I’d have been on the West End. Without the crowds, it’s just not worked. There’s matches I’ve lost this year I would have won with an audience.

“I’m excited at the prospect in playing in front of someone again. I hope it brings that spark. If not, I’m in serious trouble. And I’m not sure what else is wrong.”

Murphy’s preparations have been far better this year that the last World Championship, delayed until August last year. He has been practising with last year’s runner-up in Kyren Wilson as well as Mark Allen.

In addition, he went into the last Worlds having just attended the funeral of Brandon Parker, his manager and long-term confidant.

That was very, very tough,” he said. “Plus, I went to the UK Championship this season, turned on my phone and head my uncle had died. He wasn’t even ill. It’s been a horrible year for that sort of stuff.

“There’s so many times this year I would have picked up the phone to Brandon. He was like a second father to me and leaves such a big hole in my life on and off the table.”

There have been other hardships over the years too, some of which he’s discussed in the past, some of which he touches upon in conversation and some of which he plans to save for another day.

There’s a few misconceptions about me,” he said. “I had a very, very hard upbringing. It wasn’t the bowl of fruit people think it was. There was loads of things. The bullying as a kid. Financially it was very turbulent. My parents were big drinkers at some points and there was a lot of volatility there. There’s a good film in there one day!

His own life is now settled with his wife and two children in Dublin where they relocated from Nottinghamshire for more family support.

And the hope is the 38-year-old can add a second world title to the one won 16 years ago.

If you’d asked a 22-year-old me in 2005 if I’d win more than one world title, I’m sure I would have said ‘yes’,” he said. “I’ve got very close since – I was within a few frames in 2015 – but it’s not that easy.

The 2015 loss to Stuart Bingham in the final is still the one that rankles and tellingly he hasn’t been past the second round at the Crucible since.

The loss in 2015 really left a scar and hurt me,” he admitted. “That’s our Everest and to get so close to the top of it and then collapse down the mountain, it’s left a mark on me for a few years.

“But the asterisk to that is that I’m sat in my snooker room at home with a replica World Championship trophy. So, I have that in my locker. I’ve just run into a few superheroes in the years since.

“I will try my absolute best to win again. I believe I’m good enough. And if I don’t win? I’ll just go home and play with the kids.

Did anyone interview the qualifiers?

Yess !!! Hector Nunns interviewed Mark Joyce!

Screenshot 2021-04-16 at 14.19.04s Mark Joyce pre Crucible 2021

2021 Crucible Draw and format

In case you missed the draw you can watch it on the WST YouTube Channel

And here is the result:

2021CrucibleDraw

and WST announcement:

2021 Betfred World Championship – The Draw

The draw for the 2021 Betfred World Championship has been made with World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan being pitted against Crucible debutant Mark Joyce.

The Rocket will step out on Saturday morning at 10am to begin his 2021 campaign against world number 46 Joyce, who will be appearing at the Theatre of Dreams for the first time in his career after 15 years as a professional.

World number one Judd Trump has been drawn against Liam Highfield, who made his Crucible debut in 2018. Trump, the 2019 World Champion, has notched up five ranking titles this season. Highfield beat world number 17 Zhou Yuelong in the final round of this year’s qualifying event.

Asian number one Ding Junhui has been been handed a mouth-watering opening round tie against 2015 World Champion Stuart Bingham.

Mark Williams, who picked up his third Crucible crown in 2018, is up against debutant Sam Craigie in round one, while last year’s runner-up Kyren Wilsonfaces former semi-finalist Gary Wilson.

Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) v Mark Joyce

Anthony McGill (16) v Ricky Walden

Ding Junhui (9) v Stuart Bingham

Stephen Maguire (8) v Jamie Jones

————————————

John Higgins (5) v Tian Pengfei

Mark Williams (12) v Sam Craigie

Mark Allen (13) v Lyu Haotian

Mark Selby (4) v Kurt Maflin

————————————

Neil Robertson (3) v Liang Wenbo

Jack Lisowski (14) v Ali Carter

Barry Hawkins (11) v Matthew Selt

Kyren Wilson (6) v Gary Wilson

————————————

Shaun Murphy (7) v Mark Davis

Yan Bingtao (10) v Martin Gould

David Gilbert (15) v Chris Wakelin

Judd Trump (2) v Liam Highfield

Click here for the format of play and for details of how to buy tickets click here. The main event runs from April 17 to May 3 at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

Ronnie has a reasonably good draw, and, if he gets past the ever tricky first round will probably be able to build himself into form if needed. There are however no easy matches at the Crucible.

Ding has been served a brutal first round match, and, from what we saw in the qualifiers, Stuart Bingham has to be favourite to win this one.

Jack Lisowski is also up against it, having to beat the in-form Ali Carter in the last 32.

John Parrott mentions during the draw that if Ronnie is not ready to dig deep he will not win it. I’m not sure it’s that simple. Ronnie has tried in every match this season. He might not be ready to allow anyone to dictate the style of the match though, even if that means taking risks. This is what he did in the semi finals last year.

He has been reflecting on this match:

Ronnie O’Sullivan calls Mark Selby a ‘bad loser’ ahead of World Championship

Ronnie Selby Crucible 2020 SF

“It sounded like he was a bit of a bad loser really. He didn’t really take it well.”

Ronnie O’Sullivan has described Mark Selby as a “bad loser” following last year’s World Championship semi-final defeat to O’Sullivan.

‘The Rocket’ won a deciding frame shootout, having been 14-16 down, to win 17-16 and advance to the final. He went on to clinch his sixth World Championship, and first since 2013.

Ronnie Selby Crucible 2020 SF

Mark Selby.

However, after the game, Selby accused his opponent of being “disrespectful” by the way he was playing early on in that semi-final.

“I felt like it was a little bit disrespectful the way he played,” Selby told BBC Sport back in August.

“Every time I got him in a snooker he just went down and hit the ball at 100mph and it could have gone anywhere.

“Whether he was just in that frame of mind but felt it was a little disrespectful for me at the table.”

Ahead of this year’s World Championship, which begins at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield this weekend, O’Sullivan has described Selby as a “bad loser” and admitted that the incident has affected their relationship.

Ronnie Selby Crucible 2020 SF

I didn’t realise that result had affected him as much as it had,” O’Sullivan told Sporting Life.

Sometimes you can want something too bad, and then it’s hard to brush off a defeat, let alone a defeat how he felt like he was defeated.

“After listening to his after match interview, it sounded like he was a bit of a bad loser really. He didn’t really take it well.

“I was a bit surprised. I thought he would have given me a bit more credit for hanging in there and playing three amazing frames at the end and getting the victory. It seems he didn’t take it in that spirit.

“That’s for him to get over. It doesn’t seem like he’s able to get over it really. They can be tough matches, I’ve had one or two of them in my career. They linger on for a bit. Hopefully, he gets his head around it and moves on from it.”

Ronnie Selby Crucible 2020 SF

Ronnie O’Sullivan comeback.

The 45-year-old was asked whether it was the way he had fought back during that semi-final that had rattled Selby.

Oh yeah. A hundred per cent. I didn’t realise at the time because obviously you’re on such a high and you’ve won,” O’Sullivan replied.

But actually, if you were to sit down and listen to his interview and listen to some of the things he’s said, you’d have to go that’s coming from somewhere. It’s obviously bothered him to a certain extent.

“Listen, it would bother me I think, if I had one hand on the trophy, and all of a sudden someone has just come along and taken it away from you.

Ronnie Selby Crucible 2020 SF

It’s not an easy one to get over, but until he gets over it and it’s properly put to bed, it’s a little bit difficult. I suppose it has changed the relationship in many ways because it’s affected him.

I’d rather he’d won, been happy, and he would have been in a good place. Until he gets himself through that, I don’t know. It’s something he needs to get over for him to move on.

He would know how it feels, because he’s been there himself after losing to Selby in the 2014 World Final. It took him a very long time to get over it. It’s interesting, and endearing, that he derives no satisfaction whatsoever from seeing his rival in the same position, quite the opposite.

Also, snooker and winning at snooker are no more matters of life or death for him. In this context Ronnie spoke to Phil Haigh explaining how he has evolved from being only a snooker player to being a more complete person:

It was pretty foolish of me to think ‘I’m Ronnie O’Sullivan, snooker player.’ That’s not it

gettyimages-Ronnie enters the arenaRonnie O’Sullivan is heading back to the Crucible as world champion and much more (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan has plenty on his mind outside of snooker as he prepares to defend his World Championship title in Sheffield, but he wouldn’t have it any other way as he continues to diversify his interests away from the baize.

The Rocket is hoping to win a seventh world title this year, equalling Stephen Hendry’s record in the process, and cement his place as the greatest player of all time.

He is working hard to achieve that goal, playing in the majority of events this season, reaching five ranking finals and is putting in the practice ahead of his latest trip to the Crucible.

The 45-year-old is not just focussing on his world title campaign, which will start on Saturday morning in South Yorkshire, though.

He has opened his own shop in Sheffield’s Meadowhall Shopping Centre and announced a new global ambassadorial with Rokit, while also competing in cross country races in his spare time.

It’s a busy time for O’Sullivan, in a point of the season when most players have all their attention on Sheffield, he is glad that he doesn’t as he endeavours to keep snooker one of a wide range of interests in his life.

‘It was pretty foolish of me to think, “I’m Ronnie O’Sullivan – snooker player.” That’s not it,’ Ronnie told Metro.co.uk.

‘I had to open myself up to other opportunities and let people know. It was interesting, a lot of people said, “I wouldn’t have thought you’d want to get involved in it.

But I’m like, “no no no, of course!” Five 10 years ago I wasn’t but I’ve realised that was to my own detriment. Just through conversations you realise there’s a lot of things I can do.

My problem now is not saying “yes” to everything or else I don’t do them properly, because you’ve got too much going on. I’m trying to manage expectations now, I’m happy to do stuff but there’s only so much I can give and if that’s fine, great, if not then it’s not going to work.

People may have been surprised that O’Sullivan was interested in working with them, but Ronnie says misconceptions about him have long been a problem.

The Rocket has never been afraid to speak his mind or filter what he says in public, giving off a certain impression, but he says that opinions of him change after time in his company.

O’Sullivan explained: ‘I think there’s a perception of me and when people get to know me they say: “That’s not how I expected you to be.

‘That’s because I haven’t been media trained, for one, or had a crisis management team in there to put right something that portrayed me in the wrong way, but I was never really bothered about that.

‘It was water off a duck’s back in many ways. I never read the papers, I was so focused on what I wanted to do that it never bothered me.

‘I understand nowadays a lot of stuff on social media it can get to players, bullying online, but for me I was so focused on the job in hand that I never focused on what anyone was saying or thought about me because I was so focused on what I had to do.

‘In a way I blocked it out which was a good thing in one way but maybe I could have managed the media side a bit better, but you just do what you think’s right at the time.’

On the suggestion that his filter-free comments are what draws many fans to him, Ronnie said: ‘Possibly, I think I’ve got a good relationship with the snooker fans and people that come to watch me. It’s alright.’

O’Sullivan says his idea to try and become much more than a snooker player came from his year away from the sport in 2012/13, when he took the entire season off between winning his fourth and fifth world titles.

He realised that he wanted to play the game and also that he needed other options if snooker was ever unavailable to him in future.

I had to make the choice because I didn’t like the idea of not playing snooker and that being it,’ said O’Sullivan.

I had a year out and didn’t really have anything to fall back on. I don’t really want to be in that situation again, it taught me a lesson to look a bit ahead.

‘Develop a life without snooker, add a bit of snooker in there and I’ve got the best of both worlds. I’ve had to work hard to get that, it doesn’t happen overnight but now I’m able to go out there and swing freely.

‘Some players might look forward to the end of the career and happy living a quiet life. Other people might not and feel like they’re in a midlife crisis not knowing what to do with their time.

Ronnie 6th WC
O’Sullivan beat Kyren Wilson to claim a sixth world title last August (Picture: PA)

That’s why I had to educate myself. If you’re aware of your situation and what you want to do in your life you’ll always seek out what you need to seek out. For me the timing was right, I looked around and thought, “this can’t be the only option.”

‘You look into other things, opportunities arise and once people know that you’re interested then there’s a lot of people that want to work with you.

The Rocket has gone down a few avenues already, writing novels, a cookbook, talking of running care homes and works with homeless charities.

His shop is his most recent venture, but he would not confirm what’s next for him, other than to say we should expect plenty.

There’s some things I can’t talk about because they’re yet to happen but there are a couple of exciting things going to come off,’ he said. ‘There’s a lot of planning going on, so obviously nothing I can say, but a few exciting projects coming along.’

As for his chance of success in Sheffield again, he knows he will have to improve on the form that has seen him fail to win a title since his Crucible triumph last season, but also knows he is well capable of doing just that.

I’ll have to play better than I have done all season because Sheffield is a different tournament,’ he said. ‘Longer matches, often it’s not about being brilliant it’s about being steady and solid.

‘If I can find something and carry that through to Sheffield then who knows? If I don’t then I’m not going to detract from having a good year, I’ve enjoyed it, it’s been good fun.’

O’Sullivan will begin the defence of his title on the opening day of the tournament on Saturday 17 April.

Ronni has indeed opened a shop in Meadow Hall near Sheffield and has shared a few pictures and a short video

Having other projects might be a distraction, but it might also ease the pressure as snooker is no more all and everything in his life.

 

 

2021 World Championship Qualfiers – Day 10

The World Championship Qualifiers ended yesterday and this is the outcome as reported by WST:

Afternoon session

Bingham In Control

Stuart Bingham leads Luca Brecel 6-3 after an enthralling first session of their Judgement Day encounter at Betfred World Championship qualifying.

All of today’s best of 19 matches will be played to a conclusion from 5pm, with the winners qualifying for the final stages at the Crucible. Watch live on our Facebook and YouTube channels, as well as the Eurosport app.

Bingham is competing in the qualifying event for the first time since 2011. The 2015 Crucible king dropped out of the world’s top 16 following a difficult season, which has seen him reach just two ranking event quarter-finals.

The Basildon cueman trailed Belgian number one Brecel 3-1 after the opening exchanges. However, he burst to life after the mid-session interval. Breaks of 140, 108, 140 and 55 helped him to five on the bounce to turn the match around and head into this evening with a firm grip on proceedings.

Mark Joyce is just four frames away from a Crucible debut, after moving 6-3 up on Brazil’s Igor Figueiredo, who is bidding to become the first ever South American to reach the final stages.

Ali Carter is 6-3 ahead in his meeting with Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher. The two-time finalist top scored with a stunning run of 139 this afternoon.

Former Crucible semi-finalist Ricky Walden holds a 6-3 advantage over Ryan Day, while Bai Langning has a slender 5-4 lead against Martin Gould.

Chris Wakelin composed a superb break of exactly 100 to lead Xiao Guodong 5-4 heading into tonight. Zhao Xintong is one frame to the good at 5-4 against Sam Craigie, who is aiming for a Crucible debut.

Evening session

Craigie And Joyce Earn Crucible Debuts

Sam Craigie made a tremendous break of 89 in the deciding frame to beat Zhao Xintong 10-9 in the final qualifying round of the Betfred World Championship.

In the only ‘Judgement Day’ match to go to a decider, Newcastle’s 27-year-old Craigie rose to the occasion to beat Zhao and earn a Crucible debut, getting his name into the draw for the last 32. The main event starts on Saturday.

China’s highly-rated Zhao had leads of 3-0, 5-2 and 7-5, but Craigie battled hard and made breaks of 126, 50, 60, 106, 50 and 117. Then in the last frame he took his chance with an excellent match-winning contribution.

“I’m over the moon and glad about the way I held myself together,” said Craigie. “I have only had my B and C game in all three matches this week. But I finished it off well tonight, I just tied to focus on the balls going into the pockets. Recently I have done a few things differently and it has paid off. Until I got to this round I didn’t think I was that bothered about getting to the Crucible. Then last night I was struggling to sleep, thinking too far ahead. I had to reset myself for today.”

Igor Figueiredo’s dream of becoming the first player from South America to make it to the Crucible came to an end as the Brazilian ace lost 10-7 to Mark Joyce. Walsall’s 37-year-old Joyce booked his debut, 15 years after turning pro. A top break of 135 gave Joyce a 9-4 lead, and he eventually clinched the result in frame 17 after losing three in a row.

“I have finally got there,” said Joyce. “I have got to the final round before and I didn’t believe in myself. I’m a different player now. When Igor was coming back at me at the end, in 15 years on the tour that was the worst I have felt. My timing was gone, the white wasn’t going where I wanted it to go and that makes you look silly. He fancied the job at 9-7. But I got over the line and hopefully now I can go to the Crucible and enjoy it.”

Ali Carter and Stuart Bingham will be among the names that the top 16 seeds want to avoid when the draw for the first round proper takes place on Thursday at 11am.

Bingham, the 2015 Crucible king, had to go through the qualifiers for the first time since 2011, but safety negotiated 10-5 a win over Luca Brecel. From 3-1 down, Bingham took nine of the last 11 frames with top breaks of 140, 108, 140, 55, 63, 74, 67 and 57.

“The last qualifying round is a horrible match,” said Bingham. “I was here yesterday watching some of the matches come off and I saw one player in tears having lost, while the winner was elated. I am just so happy to get through and finish the season at the Crucible. These two matches have got me really sharp. My break building is there and my safety is good. I’ll be heading home with a big smile on my face. Whoever draws me is going to have a tough game.”

Carter, who was runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the 2008 and 2012 finals, scored a 10-4 victory over Alexander Ursenbacher with a top break of 139. “We all want to finish the season at the Crucible,” said the Captain. “I was solid all day, my temperament was good. It’s a relief to get through.”

Chris Wakelin finished a superb week on a high by beating Xiao Guodong 10-7 with top runs of 100 and 120. Wakelin was in danger of relegation when he arrived in Sheffield, but after coming from 5-3 down to beat Lei Peifan 6-5 in his opening match, he went on to knock out Matthew Stevens and then Xiao. The Nuneaton cueman can now look forward to a second trip to the Crucible, having lost 10-9 to Judd Trump on his debut in 2018.

“When I came here I had to win to stay on the tour and I have never felt pressure like that,” said Wakelin. “Then I beat Matthew with one of best matches I have ever played. I am delighted to have done myself justice because I have not really done that since the last time I got to the Crucible. I have not played well enough and that’s my own fault. I have been in a bad head space and I have had to get that right. Trying to concentrate for seven or eight hours is really not easy and you have to accept that you are going to miss balls and make mistakes.”

Gary Wilson, who reached the semi-finals two years ago, booked his return by beating Steven Hallworth 10-3 with a top break of 131. Wilson has had a poor season by his standards, reaching the last 16 of just one ranking event, but hopes he has turned his form around.

“It has been my worst season ever, just abysmal,” he said. “But I have achieved what I set out to do at the turn of the year. I have been grafting so hard and now I am going there full of confidence.”

Martin Gould top scored with 103 and 100 as he came from 5-2 down to beat Bai Langning 10-5.  Ricky Walden earned his first Crucible berth since 2018 as he saw off Ryan Day 10-5 with a top break of 84.

Judgement Day: The 16 winners

Mark Davis
Tian Pengfei
Liam Highfield
Jamie Jones
Matthew Selt 
Lyu Haotian
Kurt Maflin
Liang Wenbo
Sam Craigie
Mark Joyce
Stuart Bingham
Ali Carter
Gary Wilson
Chris Wakelin
Martin Gould
Ricky Walden

Having not been able to watch much, I’m not sure what happened in the Bai Langning match for the young Chinese to lose all frames in the evening session after starting it with a lead. I only heard a commentary by Ken Doherty, saying that he is “one for the future” … which he only can become if he regains a tour card at one point. Ken didn’t sound like he was aware of the fact that the youngster was being relegated.

I didn’t particularly enjoy what I saw, which wasn’t much. Zhao Xintong is an extremely frustrating player, pretty much like Jack Lisowski.

It’s a rather old set of qualifiers with only three under-30: Chris Wakelin 29, Sam Caigie 27 and Lyu Haotian 23.

The draw will be made today and here is how you can watch it:

How To Watch The Draw

The draw for the last 32 of the Betfred World Championship will be made at 11am on Thursday, with the top 16 seeds drawn at random against the 16 qualifiers.

Fans can watch live and free on WST’s Facebook Live and YouTube channels, as Betfred’s The Sportsman Facebook and YouTube channels plus the Eurosport website. John Parrott and Mark Pearson will be picking the balls out at Betfred’s studio in Salford.

The draw will appear below shortly after it is made:

Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) v qualifier

Anthony McGill (16) v qualifier

Ding Junhui (9) v qualifier

Stephen Maguire (8) v qualifier

————————————

John Higgins (5) v qualifier

Mark Williams (12) v qualifier

Mark Allen (13) v qualifier

Mark Selby (4) v qualifier

————————————

Neil Robertson (3) v qualifier

Jack Lisowski (14) v qualifier

Barry Hawkins (11) v qualifier

Kyren Wilson (6) v qualifier

————————————

Shaun Murphy (7) v qualifier

Yan Bingtao (10) v qualifier

David Gilbert (15) v qualifier

Judd Trump (2) v qualifier

Meanwhile this happened in China as reported by WPBSA

CBSA Qualifiers 2021: Event One Results

Wu Yize and Zhang Jiankang will compete on the World Snooker Tour next season after the pair became the first players to qualify through the first of two qualification events held this week at the CBSA-WPBSA Academy in Beijing.

Organised by the Chinese Billiards and Snooker Association (CBSA), the events will see four players progress to earn two-year professional tour cards for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons.

Zhang Jiankang earned his place following a 4-0 victory against Deng Haohuiand will return to the World Snooker Tour a year after he was relegated at the end of the 2019/20 season. The 22-year-old previously reached the last 16 of the 2019 Scottish Open and achieved a highest ranking of 85th position.

Talented youngster Wu Yize will join turn professional for the first time following a 4-1 win against Pa Ruke. Aged just 17, Yu reached the semi-finals of the WSF Junior Open in January 2020, narrowly losing 4-3 to eventual champion Gao Yang.

In 2019, he competed as a wildcard at the International Championship, narrowly losing 6-5 to four-time world champion John Higgins. He made his debut at the Betfred World Championship as a WPBSA qualifier and defeated professionals Ashley Hugill and Robbie Williams, before losing to former Masters champion Alan McManus.

The second event will run from 14-16 April, with two further professional places to be won.

 

 

Crucible 2021 – More detailed infos about tests and safety measures.

WST shared this information aimed at ticket holders yesterday 

Crucible Ticket Holders: Testing Information

Ahead of the Betfred World Championship which starts on Saturday, we are now able to provide more information about the Covid-19 testing requirements for all fans who come to the Crucible.

The tournament in Sheffield, which runs from April 17 to May 3, is part of the Event Research Programme, and Covid-19 testing is one of the measures taken to reduce risk of transmission.

The following information has been emailed to fans:

Prior to attending the event, you must take a Covid-19 rapid lateral flow test at a Local Authority Asymptomatic Testing Site close to where you live or work. If you are travelling from outside of Sheffield, you must take this test prior to travelling. For attendees of multiple event days, you must take a test prior to the first event you attend, and then every third day thereafter. (To clarify, if you test on Friday to attend on Saturday morning, you would need your next test on Monday).

When you attend the Crucible, you will need to bring a text message or email confirming a negative lateral flow test result, photographic identification, which you’ll produce alongside your test result, and email confirmation that you have provided your consent using the online consent form.

A link to find your local rapid lateral flow test site is provided here. Please note that many of the lateral flow test centres offer a booking system, rather than a drop-in facility. Please be aware that some testing sites only operate Monday to Friday.

From Friday 16th April a limited drop-in facility will be available at the Sheffield Hallam University for attendees resident in the Sheffield area. Ticket holders attending multiple event days, and requiring multiple lateral flow tests, will also be able to use this site. You must bring your World Championship ticket with you to gain access to the testing site. To ensure you are able to receive your test result in good time, please look to attend the testing site one day prior to attending your event.

The Sheffield Hallam testing facility will be open as a minimum Mon – Fri: 09:20 am – 12:20pm, 1:30pm – 4:50pm. Sat, Sun: 10am – 2pm. Further information on how Covid-19 testing works at Sheffield Hallam can be found here.

Audience participation in this event is possible as it is part of the Event Research Programme (ERP) this will help to gather essential evidence to inform the government’s decision around Step 4 of the roadmap to lift lockdown, and will support the phased return of fuller audiences to venues and events up and down England. In order to collect the important evidence required to support the return of audiences we request that all participants undertake both a pre and post event PCR test in addition to the lateral flow test referenced above.

Participants are requested to take one pre-event PCR test as close as possible to their attendance at the event, and one PCR test 5 days after the event (or final event attended, if attending over multiple days). Both PCR tests can be conducted at home and returned by post.

A link to how you request these is provided here. Scroll down to the button which says ‘GET A FREE PCR TEST’ (start now). For this application you are not Key Workers, and on selecting No, you can scroll to the bottom and click continue. Continue through the questions and select that you are taking part in Contact Testing Study. Participants have permission to use this link to order their PCR tests for ERP research purposes, even if they are not displaying Covid-19 symptoms. Please be aware that this is a separate request to the Covid-19 rapid lateral flow test required for your entry into the Crucible Theatre.

With all this into place, I strongly doubt that any session will actually be at full capacity.

Meanwhile, Ronnie spoke to Eurosport about what his mother went through as she battled covid-19.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2021: ‘CRUCIBLE SEAT ISN’T WORTH RISK’ – RONNIE O’SULLIVAN ON MUM’S COVID BATTLE

Ronnie O’Sullivan is keen to see snooker fans return, but is concerned about throwing open the Crucible Theatre doors to spectators with the UK’s death toll passing a bleak 150,000 on Tuesday. The defending world champion is proud of how his mum Maria fought off Covid-19 on a ventilator at home, but feels the threat of excited “smotherers” pose a serious risk to players, officials and fellow fans.

By Desmond Kane

Ronnie O’Sullivan feels proud. Ahead of a 29th successive appearance at the World Championship in Sheffield, one might suggest such a sensation is hardly surprising for the sport’s greatest player of all time.
But his pride has nothing to do with ending a seven-year wait to lift his sixth world title last August, reaching five ranking finals this season, his top seeding at the Crucible this year or becoming the first man in history to compile 1100 centuries.

WC2013-ROS-Mum-SisterThese are all trivial, irrelevant and facile facts compared to the clear and present danger of Covid-19, an illness O’Sullivan has been closer to than the cue ball in recent times.
He admits he is proud of his mum Maria, her attitude and fighting spirit in battling the disease on a ventilator at home rather than going to hospital when all looked lost.

He also uses Maria’s experience as a timely reminder about the damage the illness can cause to unsuspecting victims.
As pubs, hair salons and retail re-opened in England on Monday, snooker’s biggest headline act cannot help but shudder at the notion that the UK is suddenly out of the danger zone.
He is not an expert epidemiologist, but he can speak as much from personal experience about society’s plight as working out his next positional shot.

My mum was on a ventilator at home,” said O’Sullivan. “She had to take proper medication. We were lucky and privileged that I was able to call on a doctor who was keen to keep her out of hospital.

“He said: ‘I think she is going to be okay, Ronnie, but buy this, do this and do that.’ She was able to nurse herself better. I was able to go around there to make sure she was alright.
“We were lucky. She did say to me at one stage: ‘I need to go to the hospital, ring me an ambulance’.
“But I said: ‘Let me get my doctor around first’ because I didn’t want to take her to a hospital unless she had to go.
“Once you get into the hospital situation, it could be a worse problem for you.

SO I WAS LUCKY THAT MY DOCTOR WAS ABLE TO ADVISE, KEPT AN EYE ON HER IN THE EARLY DAYS AND SAID: ‘LOOK, I THINK SHE IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT’. THAT WAS IT. SHE RESPONDED WELL AND I WAS PROUD OF HER THAT SHE WAS ABLE TO COME THROUGH IT.

Others of course have not been so lucky with the death toll in the UK reaching a tragic, bleak and shocking milestone of 150,000 on Tuesday since the first national lockdown came into effect last March.
In a candid and open interview with Eurosport, O’Sullivan remains none the wiser about how his mum contracted the virus.
But he feels it acts as a warning to everyone about how potent a threat Covid remains in the UK amid the ongoing global pandemic.

When this first happened she was talking to me around corners in the house. Like a lot of people, quite paranoid about getting it,” he explained.
“I said: ‘Mum, chill out, go for some fresh air, go for a walk and just stay away from people.’

SHE WAS REALLY CAREFUL, BUT ‘BANG’, THEN SHE GETS IT. YOU CAN JUST BE UNLUCKY WITH THIS ILLNESS. TOUCHING A SURFACE OR SOMETHING. SHE HAS BEEN THROUGH IT ALL. I’M JUST RELIEVED SHE HAS RECOVERED.

O’Sullivan played last year’s final before a crowd of around 300 at the 980-seat Crucible due to Covid restrictions on his way to an 18-8 win over Kyren Wilson in the final that saw him join Steve Davis and Ray Reardon on six world titles.
It looks like being a lot different with the sport’s diminutive hothouse brimming to full capacity for this year’s final in early May as part of a government pilot scheme to allow fans back to venues this summer.

The Crucible will be at 33% for the first round, 50% for the second round, 75% for the quarter-finals and semi-finals before reaching full capacity of just under 1,000 for the final on 2-3 May.

Testing will be in place, but only the first-round matches will witness any social distancing in a sport that has been marooned in Milton Keynes without the public since O’Sullivan’s victory in Sheffield.

He doesn’t see the benefit of winning what has been described as “a golden ticket” by being squeezed closer together than the pack of reds inside the Crucible.

If they choose they want to go and sit next to each other, that is fine,” said O’Sullivan, who opens the 45th staging of the Crucible tournament against a qualifier on Saturday morning at 10am (BST).

FOR ME PERSONALLY, I WOULDN’T BE BUYING A TICKET TO GO AND SIT NEXT TO SOMEONE ANYWHERE FOR THE NEXT TWO OR THREE YEARS. THAT IS JUST MY PERSONAL PREFERENCE. I JUST WOULDN’T FEEL COMFORTABLE DOING IT UNTIL YOU KNOW THE LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF THIS ILLNESS, I WOULDN’T WANT TO TAKE THE RISK.

From what I’ve heard so far, I just wouldn’t want to get it. In another few years, if you discover one in five million get it really bad then you chances are if you get it, you aren’t the one in five million.
“But nobody knows the levels or damage it can do. It’s okay getting Covid, but the long Covid is the one you want to avoid.

O’Sullivan is keen to entertain the sport’s fans, but is urging them to maintain distance from each other, officials and the players in and around the Crucible.
In an invisible war with a silent killer armed only with hand sanitizer and face masks, O’Sullivan has berated potential “smotherers” who are more interested in themselves than maintaining social distance.

Everything is fine as long as there is no smothering going on. That’s the only issue. As long as everybody keeps their distance, it is fine,” he insisted.
It’s not at the venue that’s the problem, it’s going to be coming out the stage door at the Crucible, getting to the hotel in Sheffield..just going about your normal business.

I JUST HOPE THE SMOTHERING DOESN’T HAPPEN BECAUSE PEOPLE GET TOO EXCITED AND SEE SOMEONE IF THEY ARE A (MARK) SELBY FAN, OR A JUDD TRUMP FAN OR A NEIL (ROBERTSON) FAN. THEY’LL RUN OVER THERE AND THEY START BREATHING, SNEEZING OR COUGHING OR WHATEVER. THEN SUDDENLY YOU GET THE COVID BECAUSE YOU’VE BEEN SMOTHERED.

It is how they manage the excitement of the fans and the people that surround the Crucible in Sheffield.

We all want to see the fans back at the venue, but there has got to be no smothering. If that can be done, then I don’t see any issues. But is that going to be the case? I doubt it.

O’Sullivan – who at the age of 44 years and 254 days became the second oldest world champion of all time behind 45-year-old Reardon’s 1978 win – enjoyed his sojourn to Sheffield for last year’s delayed event as he used the Covid-19 restrictions around the Yorkshire city to stay nearer the venue while enjoying daily runs.
He is hoping the sport’s organisers will think of the players’ well-being in getting in and out of the Crucible with minimal fuss this time.

It would be nice if World Snooker Tour can give the players some sort of level of protection so they’re not left to their own devices to have to deal with that situation,” he said.
If you are going to allow fans, you then have to got to think: ‘How do we get players in and out of the venue safely?’
“When they’re not playing, that’s down to the players.

THEY’VE GOT TO BE CAREFUL WHERE THEY GO AND WHAT THEY DO, BUT DURING MATCH OR PRACTICE TIME WHEN THEY’VE GOT TO GO THE CRUCIBLE, THERE SHOULD BE ACCESS THERE WITHOUT PLAYERS FEARING THEY’VE GOT TO GET THROUGH AN EXCITED CROWD AT THE ENTRANCE, IF THAT MAKES SENSE.

In a fitting denouement to a timely health message from the sport’s professor of potting, O’Sullivan is also advising the public to get vaccinated at the earliest opportunity.

I’ll hopefully get my vaccine in the next few months after Sheffield,” he added.

IF THERE WAS A DOCTOR HERE RIGHT NOW WITH SOME ASTRAZENECA, I’D BE TELLING HIM TO PUMP IT RIGHT IN THERE. I’D HAVE IT STRAIGHT AWAY.

Desmond Kane

Ronnie might be “mad as cheese” but there is nothing mad in what he says here, quite the opposite.