Crucible 2019 – last interviews before it starts

The World Championship starts in a few hours and Shamoon Hafez (BBC) has been interviewing some if the main contenders.

World Championship 2019: Ronnie O’Sullivan seeks sixth title at Crucible

It’s not great that Mark Williams is feeling this way, but I can understand why he does.

Indeed just have a look at the poster:

WC2019Poster

He’s completely in the background, whilst Mark Selby who has not done much at all this season in right in front. Mark Also wasn’t on the cover of the new game “Snooker 19” that Worldsnooker is promoting. That’s hard to understand unless Mark is indeed right.

In my opinion he’s been a great World Champion but that view may not be shared by everyone. There is a trend now to ask sportsperson to be “Mr/Mrs Perfect”. Well spending the whole year celebrating on social media with a lot of drinking involved, and getting in trouble in Dubai for being too explicitly flirty (with his own wife BTW) may not be what’s expected of Mr Perfect. But what Mark certainly has done, and I believe it’s much more important than being Mr Perfect, is being a champion to which the man and woman of the street can relate/identify. Because, we, real humans in real life, we are not “Perfect” and it’s hard to relate to an image that bears no “reality”.

 

Crucible 2019 – The Press Day

Traditionally the Friday before the World Championship is the Press Day. The top  16, the officials and the sponsor meet the members of the press.

Here are some images and videos that emerged today on social media

Meeting the press:

Ronnie remembers his best and worse Crucible moments with Eurosport

And he’s been talking to the sponsor…

As always, Ronnie sounds a bit low-key, but I honestly believe that this is part of trying to ease the weight of expectations a bit.

Meanwhile the fitters are getting the arena and practise room ready

Whilst Matt Huart has been working on a blog about the rankings (now there’s a surprise!)

Four to Fight for Season End Top Ranking

19th April 2019

Four players head to the Crucible from this Saturday looking not only to claim the Betfred World Snooker Championship title, but also to end the season as snooker’s world number one ranked player.

View the latest provisional end of season rankings

For the last seven successive seasons the honour has gone to three-time world champion Mark Selby, however having already been deposed as world number one by Ronnie O’Sullivan in recent weeks and with the prize money from his 2017 Crucible success due to fall from him ranking, there is a real possibility that this run will come to an end this year.

O’Sullivan favourite

Leading the race to finish the campaign ranked at number one for the first time since the end of the 2009/10 season is current top ranked player Ronnie O’Sullivan. The five-time world champion heads to Sheffield with a provisional total of £1,196,500 to his name, almost £200,000 clear of his closest rival.

Leading the chase is defending champion Mark Williams, who is the only player other than Ronnie whose prospects of claiming top spot remains in his own hands. This is because winning the tournament once again would guarantee that the Welshman would return to the top of the list, even if O’Sullivan were to reach the final.

Outside chance

The other two players who can still mathematically regain top spot are Neil Robertson and Mark Selby, however both would need some help by way of an early exit for O’Sullivan.

Both players would in fact need to win the tournament to stand any possible chance of leapfrogging the top two, with O’Sullivan also losing before the semi-final stage.

If O’Sullivan were to reach the last four, only Williams would be able to deny him a place at the top of the season-end rankings for what would be the sixth time in his career, while Williams is looking to finish there for a fifth time.

Also a £50000 prize has been announced for a 147 at the Crucible.

The prize for making a maximum break at the 2019 Betfred World Championship will be £50,000.

Snooker’s biggest tournament starts on Saturday and runs for 17 days, with 32 players battling for the title. And a 147 at the Crucible will be worth a £50,000 bonus.

Maximum breaks are usually rewarded from the rolling pot for 147s but with that pot down to £5,000 following Stuart Bingham’s maximum at the China Open, World Snooker and WPBSA have decided to boost the prize up to £50,000.

There is also a high break prize of £10,000.

147s at the Crucible

Cliff Thorburn 1983
Jimmy White 1992
Stephen Hendry 1995
Ronnie O’Sullivan 1997
Ronnie O’Sullivan 2003
Mark Williams 2005
Ronnie O’Sullivan 2008
Ali Carter 2008
Stephen Hendry 2009
Stephen Hendry 2012

147s this season

Michael Georgiou – 2018 Paul Hunter Classic
Jamie Jones – 2018 Paul Hunter Classic
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh – 2018 English Open
Ronnie O’Sullivan – 2018 English Open
Mark Selby – 2018 Champion of Champions
John Higgins – 2018 Scottish Open
Judd Trump – 2018 German Masters qualifiers
David Gilbert – 2019 Championship League
Neil Robertson – 2019 Welsh Open
Noppon Sanegkham – 2019 Welsh Open
Zhou Yuelong – 2019 Indian Open
Stuart Bingham – 2019 China Open

Yes, that’s 7 years ago. A maximum at the Crucible remains a rarity because a number of factors, notably the pressure because of the importance of the event and of course nobody will take unduly risks . With the big bonus gone, there wasn’t much incentive for the players to try to make one. They finally understood that it seems.

And everyone else has been doing previews. Here is mine.

Don’t believe everything you read in the press …

Today THIS was published by the Daily Star

Ronnie O’Sullivan coach BANNED from Romford training base – this is why

RONNIE O’SULLIVAN has been dealt a blow on the eve of the World Snooker Championship after his coach was banned from visiting his training base.

Ronnie O’Sullivan linked up with Stephen Feeney last year after he turned Mark Williams back into a world champion.

Williams, 44, won his third Crucible title in May 2018 and O’Sullivan decided to get the mastermind behind that success on board.

Feeney appears to have had a major impact on The Rocket after his stunning season which has seen him return to the world No.1 spot and claim five major titles.

But his progress could be hit after his coach was banned from O’Sullivan’s Romford training base.

O’Sullivan has practiced at the Grove Academy in Romford, Essex, for years.

But he’s had to change his plans for the 2019 World Snooker Championship, and will instead head to Sheffield.

The Grove Academy is owned by O’Sullivan’s former manager Django Fung, and he’s banned Feeney from entering the venue – although the player himself is still allowed in.

Fung manages fellow snooker stars Judd Trump and Neil Robertson and disrupting O’Sullivan’s preparations could give them a big advantage.

To which Django Fung responded THIS on social media
This happened 10 months ago. No one is banned, I just need to know who enters my premises and when. Also don’t need any unwanted distractions to my players. I explained this to and he fully understands it.

Clearly someone is making a “drama” story out of nothing. The article is inaccurate and misleading. Unfortunately many will only read the article, comment on it and share it and will not see – or will deliberately choose to ignore Django’s answer… because they like to stir the pot.

I have seen this type of things often enough when I was in the media room. Quotes from players, taken out of context, twisted, presented as spontaneous when they had been baited into it. Just to create “stories” that sell, in total disregard from what the players actually meant. And it’s all the most easy to do when they are interviewed, only minutes after a match, especially when they are feeling raw having just lost.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many journalists out there who genuinely do their job the best they can, trying to promote the sport, to sell articles to their – too often reluctant – editors whilst being fair to the players. But you have the others as well … like this one.

 

Ronnie signs for three more years with Eurosport

Here is the announcement:

Snooker legend Ronnie signs multi-year deal with Eurosport

April 02 2019

Snooker legend Ronnie signs multi-year deal with Eurosport

• O’Sullivan pens deal to be Eurosport snooker expert for three years
• Joins Eurosport’s team of experts that include White and Foulds
• O’Sullivan: Eurosport is the go-to destination for passionate snooker fans

One of the sport’s greatest icons will be on Eurosport’s screens for another three years after it was announced snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan has signed up with the Discovery-owned network to be an expert analyst.

Affectionately named ‘The Rocket’ in reference to his breath-taking shot making ability on the baize, the five-time World Champion will join Eurosport’s stellar cast of snooker experts throughout the upcoming 2019 World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

O’Sullivan will also be chief contributor to an exclusive short-form series 60 Second Pro, to be screened on Eurosport’s linear and digital channels throughout the tournament where the potting maestro will dissect some of the key aspects of the game – covering everything from the perfect break to imparting the right amount of spin for certain shots.

Ronnie O’Sullivan said: “I am delighted to extend my association with Eurosport for another three years. Eurosport has been an important part of my professional life over the last few seasons and I can’t wait to share my opinions with viewers from right across Europe.

“It is well-known within the game that Eurosport is the go-to destination for passionate snooker fans and I’m proud to be part of that team.”

Joining O’Sullivan to analyse the best of the action during the World Snooker Championship will be six-time World Championship finalist Jimmy White, former professional stalwart Neal Foulds with respected broadcasters Colin Murray and Andy Goldstein anchoring the show and Rachel Casey conducting interviews on-site from Sheffield. Professional snooker guru Chris Henry, who has coached the likes of Shaun Murphy, Ding Junhui and Stephen Hendry, will supplement Eurosport’s coverage with unique insights into the mindset of the players during the 17-day tournament.

Over 150 hours of live coverage will be shown exclusively* on Eurosport, eurosport.com and the Eurosport App across Europe with highlights shows, replays and action from the qualifying tournament** taking that figure to well over 300 hours by the time the curtain comes down on the 42nd edition of snooker’s blue-riband event. Dave Hendon will be calling the action for Eurosport.

Eurosport first broadcast the World Snooker Championship in 2000 and has shown every tournament since 2003. In 2016, Eurosport underlined its status as the Home of Snooker when it signed a ten-year agreement with World Snooker to broadcast all of the major tournaments on the snooker calendar, including the Home Nations Series, Masters and the World Snooker Championship.

*Total exclusivity except the UK
**The qualifying tournament is available only on Eurosport Player

Notes to Editors
Key Dates for the Diary:
Saturday 20 April – Day 1 of the 2019 World Snooker Championship main tournament
Saturday 27 April – Second round begins
Tuesday 30 April – Quarter-Finals begin
Thursday 2 May – Semi-Finals begin
Monday 6 May – The final of the 2019 World Snooker Championship concludes

The 2019 World Snooker Championship will be shown on Eurosport platforms in:
Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kosovo, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Morocco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Turkey, UK, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vatican.

Ronnie O’Sullivan Biography
Born: 5 December 1975 (West Midlands, England)
Hometown: Chigwell, Essex, England
One of the greatest players in the history of snooker, Ronnie O’Sullivan has five world titles to his name having won the sport’s biggest prize in 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2013. During his professional career – which started in 1992 – O’Sullivan has won a total of 35 ranking tournaments and last month became the first player to record 1,000 100+ breaks in a career. Ronnie started working with Eurosport in 2014, quickly establishing himself as one of the most engaging, insightful and entertaining analysts in snooker. Away from snooker, Ronnie was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 2016, is interested in the role nutrition can play in everyday health and his modern-day sporting idol is Barcelona and Argentina playmaker Lionel Messi.

Interview, pictures and plans…

Whilst others are getting ready for the last event before the Crucible, Ronnie has been busy cooking, planning a break and Crucible practice and, finally, acknowledging his own status in the sport.

Ronnie has shared those images on social media, hinting at a big announcement. If the tags accompanying the images are anything to go by, this is likely to be related to the imminent publication of his book with Rhiannon Lambert “Top of your game”.

According to “The Daily Star”, Ronnie’s plans ahead of the Crucible are to chill out with a mate, and go for a bit of fresh air and sailing, before heading to Sheffield for his preparation and practice ahead of the Crucible. Taking a break isn’t a bad idea IMO. The Tour Championship was pretty intense, the World Championship will be long and demanding. Being fresh heading to the Crucible might prove crucially important.

Meanwhile Eurosport has published this interview:

O’Sullivan: Hard to argue I’m not greatest of all time

By Eurosport

Ronnie O’Sullivan has admitted for the first time he has a right to be called snooker’s GOAT as his golden 27-year career continues to glitter.

O’Sullivan holds every major record in the sport in the modern era, but continues to be two adrift of the retired Stephen Hendry’s haul of seven world titles ahead of his latest tilt at a sixth world crown next month.

His achievements include:

  • Being the youngest winner of a ranking event aged 17 at the 1993 UK Championship
  • Winning a record 19 triple crown events including seven UK titles and seven Masters
  • Becoming the first man to break the 1000 mark in career centuries
  • Making 15 competitive 147 breaks, more than any other player

But the Essex man believes it is not only the numbers that validate his claim to be called snooker’s greatest of all time after his 13-11 win over 2010 world champion Neil Robertson in last weekend’s Tour Championship final.

At the age of 43, O’Sullivan is snooker’s oldest world number one since the 50-year-old six-times world champion Ray Reardon in 1983 after his title success in Llandudno.

He has drawn level on 36 ranking event titles with Hendry, a number that could be passed if he wins the World Championship.

The five-times world champion believes style, commitment and longevity since he turned professional in 1992 put him above his rivals in the debate about who is the green baize’s best.

When asked if he thought he was the greatest, O’Sullivan – winner of the world championship in 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2013 – told Eurosport: “It’s hard to argue against that in many ways, my record speaks for itself. I have every record barring the seven world titles.

“I think the thing for me is that I’ve done it in an aggressive, attacking and flamboyant way if you like, and to get results playing that style is never easy.

“A lot of players aim to stall you, and freeze the game up, and it’s a testament to your own ability to not allow that to happen, and when I’m playing well that never happens because I’m able to punch holes through them really quickly and their game plan goes out the window. “

“If I’m not playing well and clearing up in one visit and dominating the table, their confidence grows and find that’s the best way to beat me.

“But over the 25 years, I’ve pretty much had an answer for any opponent. It’s nice, I can reflect on my career now and be satisfied with it in many ways.”
“Every season there seems to be someone that’s playing well, but I seem to have always been there. It’s Mark Selby, then Neil Robertson, Judd Trump then John Higgins, Mark Williams but I always seem to be always there, so I’m happy I’ve always been able to have consistency at the highest level.”

Robertson compared O’Sullivan to Roger Federer in tennis after losing to O’Sullivan after seeing him end Selby’s four-year reign as number one despite playing in only seven ranking events this season.

“It’s nice when it comes from your peers and they’re probably the most important ones. When it comes from someone like Neil or Stephen Hendry or John Higgins it means so much more,” said O’Sullivan.

“But you have to go by your records, and being the most successful player in snooker now, it’s debatable whether it’s me or Hendry. He’s had seven world titles, whereas I only have five, but I seem to have every other record. ”
“It’s a bit like saying is (Lionel) Messi really the best player ever because he hasn’t won the World Cup? You can go on and on with that argument.

“For me Messi is the greatest player we’ve ever seen. By not winning the World Cup doesn’t change my opinion of him being the best.

“It’s difficult to satisfy some people, but sometimes it’s just nice to have your hat thrown in and be at the table in that discussion.”

WORLD SNOOKER CHAMPIONSHIP ON EUROSPORT

THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE

World Snooker Championship to be broadcast exclusively in 65 COUNTRIES and territories in Europe, Asia and North Africa (+UK non-exclusive)
Every minute of the main tournament broadcast exclusively LIVE* on Eurosport and Eurosport Player – equating to 150 HOURS of coverage
Exclusive coverage of the qualifying tournament on Eurosport Player – in total Eurosport will screen 300 HOURS of world-class snooker in April and May
WATCH ANYWHERE, ANYTIME – all coverage simulcast on the Eurosport Player
KEY DATES FOR THE DIARY

Qualification tournament – ONLY ON EUROSPORT PLAYER
Saturday 20 April – Day 1 of the main tournament from the 2019 World Snooker Championship
Saturday 27 April – Second round begins
Tuesday 30 April – Quarter-Finals begin
Thursday 2 May – Semi-Finals begin
Monday 6 May – The final of the 2019 World Snooker Championship concludes

Check the original article for pictures and videos.