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.

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.

Ronnie: an interview and revisiting the Masters

The Masters 2019 is upon us, it starts on Sunday, and inevitably Ronnie is in the news. He’s won this tournament a record  seven times, over the last fifteen years, he’s made it to 9 finals, in fourteen participation and won it six times. So it’s no wonder that the press will want to speak to him in the build-up.

And now of course, having won the UK championship for the seventh time before Christmas, bringing his number of “Triple Crowns” to nineteen and having superseded Stephen Hendry’s tally in the process, he’s largely recognised as the greatest.

So here is an interview with de Daily Mail

‘I don’t think any player has ever got the better of me’: Ronnie O’Sullivan on being the best in the world, why he can play until he is 55, and his next trick

  • Ronnie O’Sullivan has had ‘no better feeling’ than being at the top of his game
  • The five-time world champion tells Sportsmail why he is so consistent
  • He has considered taking up hobbies including go-karting and Nordic skiing  
  • O’Sullivan will play Stuart Bingham in the first round of the Masters on Monday 

Ronnie O’Sullivan is usually his own harshest critic. But the tortured king of snooker seems less tormented nowadays, with the pursuit of perfection not as painful as it was.

It is refreshing to hear O’Sullivan, 43, who is normally quicker to praise his contemporaries, speak about those moments when he is at the top of his game.

‘It’s fantastic! There is no better feeling,’ he says. ‘I feel like I have an answer for anything that my opponent might bring to the table — whether that’s good safety, or good break-building, or good potting.

Ronnie O'Sullivan believes there is no better feeling than being at the top of his game

Ronnie O’Sullivan believes there is no better feeling than being at the top of his game

 

O'Sullivan has won five World Championships and seven UK Championships during his career

O’Sullivan has won five World Championships and seven UK Championships during his career

‘I just know that they have to continue doing what they’re good at to a very high level for a very long time to have a chance to beat me. And they might beat me. But I’ll be coming for you the next week.

‘And I’ll be coming for you the week after. So keep bringing your A game. At the end of their career most players will say, “Well, I didn’t really get the better of Ronnie”. And that’s all you can do as a sportsman.’

At 17, O’Sullivan saw off Stephen Hendry to win the 1993 UK Championship, thanks to sublime talent and an infectious personality, and has dominated snooker for more than 25 years.

‘I’ve had to play different eras and players. Some players will come along for five years and everyone will be saying, “Oh they’re going to be great”. And then I’ll have to deal with them.

‘And then it will be another batch and then I’d have five years of them. And then another batch of players. Because they can’t sustain it. They can’t sustain it for 25 years.

‘I don’t think there’s any pro who has ever played in my era who can honestly say that they got the better of me, really,’ he says nonchalantly between sips of lemon and ginger tea.

So how has he done it? ‘You have to reinvent yourself sometimes,’ he continues. ‘You have to look round and say, “There are players out there doing stuff better than I am”. I want to try to get that into my game.’

O'Sullivan spoke to Sportsmail about his lengthy career and his success in the sport

O’Sullivan spoke to Sportsmail about his lengthy career and his success in the sport

 

Aged just 17, O’Sullivan defeated Stephen Hendry to win the 1993 UK Championship

Aged just 17, O’Sullivan defeated Stephen Hendry to win the 1993 UK Championship

O’Sullivan, who watched and learned as heroes such as Jimmy White, Steve Davis and Hendry became opponents, had a close eye on Mark Williams last year. Aged 43, the Welshman won his third World Championship in May, 15 years after his last Crucible victory.

Williams credited Steve Feeney’s SightRight stable with advances in his game and this was not lost on O’Sullivan, who joined the programme in July.

‘I noticed Mark had got more compact and that was a consequence of changing his alignment,’ says O’Sullivan. ‘I was always interested in someone who can compact everything that they can do. When I’m playing my best I feel compact and tight so I thought I would give it a go.

‘I knew I needed to do something. I didn’t want to carry on playing as I was last season.

‘It was like learning a new language. He gave me solidness, if you like. I’m not a better player. I don’t believe you can improve as a player. I think once you get to 21, 22 you’re as good as you’re ever going to be.

‘I’m just a different type of player. More consistent, if you like. Probably won’t have as many moments of brilliance because I won’t need to. I’ll just be solid — which is OK for me.’

O'Sullivan accepted that he was a solid player and that has helped him achieve success

O’Sullivan accepted that he was a solid player and that has helped him achieve success

 

O'Sullivan has won a record total of 19 titles in Triple Crown tournaments during his career

O’Sullivan has won a record total of 19 titles in Triple Crown tournaments during his career

O’Sullivan credits Ray Reardon with improving his safety game, and his union with psychiatrist Steve Peters helped challenge his mental demons. Away from the table, nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert changed his attitude to food, and artist Damien Hirst is a regular in his dressing room.

‘I’m lucky, I’ve got some good friends,’ he says. ‘And some great people who have become friends. My friends are people who want nothing from me — even with Steve Peters.

‘He wants nothing from me other than to see me do well. I kind of gravitate to those people and keep them in my life. I’m lucky to have them around.’

O'Sullivan is a keen runner and has changed his approach to his diet to prolong his career 
O’Sullivan is a keen runner and has changed his approach to his diet to prolong his career

 

O'Sullivan beat Mark Allen to claim his seventh UK Championship victory in York in December 

O’Sullivan beat Mark Allen to claim his seventh UK Championship victory in York in December

The wild nights out are long gone in favour of quiet nights in. O’Sullivan, who has written three fiction books and has his own cookery book published in May, is reading about Genghis Khan and is a Netflix aficionado.

He still runs (‘I can do a Parkrun — three miles — in about 20 minutes, which is all right, though it ain’t great.’)

But O’Sullivan, nimble of body and inquisitive of mind, is looking for new pastimes.

‘I’m going to go into karting,’ he says. ‘I’ve got my first testing after the Masters. They do four five-hour races. Three drivers.

‘You do the pole position — all that sort of thing. You start at eight in the morning and finish at five at night. So I thought, yeah that’ll do me. Once a month, something like that.

‘I want to start Nordic skiing as well. Cross-country skiing. I’ve always fancied that because it’s like running. I’ve got that running background. It doesn’t look like there’s much skill involved. I’m always looking for something to do.’

The West Midlands-born cueman has thought about taking up go-karting and Nordic skiing 
The West Midlands-born cueman has thought about taking up go-karting and Nordic skiing

 

He insists that he does not prepare for tournaments or opponents in a specific manner
He insists that he does not prepare for tournaments or opponents in a specific manner

O’Sullivan won the UK Championship last month, becoming the first player to win 19 Triple Crown events, overtaking Hendry in the process.

With the Masters — a tournament he has won seven times with three victories in the past five years — starting on Sunday, O’Sullivan faces 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham in the first round on Monday. How has he been preparing?

‘I don’t actually prepare for one tournament in a certain way. I just kind of play,’ he says.

‘I’m a bit like a boxer who is fit all year round. I wouldn’t be like a Ricky Hatton where I finish a fight and then don’t go near a gym for two months. I’d be back in the gym, training. That’s how I live my life as a snooker player.’

As his career progresses, O'Sullivan has taken on more commentary and analysis roles

As his career progresses, O’Sullivan has taken on more commentary and analysis roles

 

O'Sullivan's first match at the Masters will be against 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham 

O’Sullivan’s first match at the Masters will be against 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham

O’Sullivan will be analysing his competitors for Eurosport during the competition. He provides sharp insight and has learned a thing or two.

‘I’ve had to commentate on nine frames in a match,’ he says. ‘Wow! So you get to see a different game when you’re commentating from when you’re playing.’

And although he believes that his form over the past six or seven years has been something near his best, how long can he go on?

‘Whatever sport or business you’re in, you’re always looking around at your competitors,’ he says. ‘Is anyone doing anything better than you and can you learn from them? I don’t really see anybody tearing it up, really.

‘It’s kind of giving me a little more belief that I can play a bit longer than I thought I could. I think 50 would be the minimum. Competing and still winning tournaments.

‘Unless some really good players come up through the ranks, I could maybe go on until 55. So who knows? I’m never satisfied, I just want to be as good as I can be, if that makes sense.’

Ronnie has also been on twitter, yesterday and the day before for the first time this year. He’s considering doing some podcasts and pointed his fans to this video by Eurosport UK, recollecting some of his most remarkable moments at the Masters.

Looking forward to kicking off 2019 at the Masters next week 😃

An article by Desmond Kane (Eurosport) about the “class of 92”

Eurosport

Rejuvenated class of ’92 inspire snooker’s greatest era: O’Sullivan, Higgins and Williams

37 minutes ago

Updated 15 minutes ago

Forget the 1980s, we are living in snooker’s golden age with three giants of the sport – Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Mark Williams – performing at their very best, writes Desmond Kane.

From the golden generation, comes a golden era. The curious narrative of the green baize has become a sort of Benjamin Button with snooker balls courtesy of its glistening potting triumvirate.

Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Mark Williams, the world’s top three this year, have a combined age of 126, but a collective snooker brain of about half that.

The older they get, the younger they get. Weird, but also wonderful for those of you out there who rage against the dying of the light. If the 1980s was snooker’s heyday in the UK, snooker is at its zenith in 2018.

O’Sullivan, Higgins and Williams, three blokes 21 years short of making up a combined age of 147, have never performed better encased by some sort of time-defying emollient and a genuine desire to improve.

Eight out of the season’s 16 ranking tournaments have been gobbled up by WHO at 42? It is not melodramatic to suggest the ongoing class of ’92 – the year when they started out as professionals – are holding up better at the table than Paul Newman as ‘Fast Eddie’ Felson. And he was fictional.

O’Sullivan is officially enjoying his best season collecting a career-best haul of four titles at the English Open, Shanghai Masters, UK Championship and World Grand Prix.

Snooker's top 10 this season.

No country for young men? O’Sullivan is targeting two more world titles in his 40s to equal Stephen Hendry’s record of seven.

“Perhaps 40 is the new 25,” he has commented.

After a seemingly terminal decline since his peak of world titles in 2000 and 2003, Williams is blooming like a Welsh daffodil. He ended a seven-year drought to win the Northern Ireland Open with a 9-8 win over Yan Bingtao in November before waltzing to his 20th career title with a 9-1 victory over Graeme Dott at the German Masters last month.

VIDEO – O’Sullivan: I’d like to win two more world titles before I’m 50

Higgins usurped Barry Hawkins 9-7 to earn a fifth Welsh Open and 30th ranking title on Sunday night, 23 years after he first reached the final of the event. He has also lifted the Indian Masters title less than a year after becoming the oldest World Championship finalist aged 41 since Ray Reardon in 1982.

Higgins attributes the expanded snooker tour for saving and extending his career because he is no longer having to isolate himself for practice sessions when he is playing so much. When you study six-times world champion Steve Davis aged 39 winning the Masters in 1997 for his final major victory or Hendry’s toil in his 30s before retiring at age of 43 in 2012, it is remarkable to witness snooker become a game for true greats.

VIDEO – Higgins seals victory over Hawkins in Welsh Open Final

Higgins told me back in 2009 a day after lifting the third of his four world crowns, that “when you get to your late 30, early 40s, it will naturally become more difficult with the amount of talent pushing through”. Yet he continues to compete at the highest levels due to a technique made in Scotland from girders.

A holy timeless trilogy with 11 world titles between them are rewriting the record books on what can be achieved beyond the previously slippery slope of 40 with a load of balls and a snooker cue as Chas & Dave sung back in its 1980s pomp.

VIDEO – The Rocket Files: John Higgins

The world might have been going snooker loopy back in those days of mullets, shoulder pads and shell suits, but the game of snooker has never been more credible.

Out of the top 30 heaviest century makers in the history of the sport, only Hendry, Davis and John Parrott have retired.

With a golden generation growing golder in their third decade, snooker boasts genuine forces of nature in world champion Mark Selby, Judd Trump, Ding Junhui, Shaun Murphy, Mark Allen and Neil Robertson. None of them are in the first flush of youth.

There is also a supporting cast that includes serious rising Chinese talent led by Bingtao as the sport suddenly houses serious prize money.

VIDEO – Stunning pot sets up Williams for German Masters glory

If O’Sullivan wins a sixth world title in May, he snares £425,000 and becomes the first man to earn £1m on the table in a season. But Higgins and Williams carrying off the old pot would not be a surprise given how this season is unravelling.

It is a glorious sight indeed in any sport to witness maturing talent make good on their late promise

Life begins at 40? In snooker, life begins beyond 40. And the final frame, the final black is some way off being sunk for the perpetual potters.

Desmond Kane

Follow this link to read the original article and watch the videos.

Great stuff with Jimmy and Ronnie

This time from the Telegrapgh

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jimmy White: ‘We still have a bit of fun on the road  – we always seem to pick up the bill’

telemmglpict000143357734_trans_nvbqzqnjv4bqdo1phbppib1hbzscuhlbe_l9-fj5gjll9qadkudheo0
Jimmy White, left, and Ronnie O’Sullivan are having fun in the commentary box after lighting up the snooker circuit between them for the past four decades
CREDIT: EDDIE MULHOLLAND FOR THE TELEGRAPH

Snooker’s two greatest talents, two men who have given sports fans some of the greatest thrills and most gutting disappointments of our lifetimes. Between them they have survived cancer, a dad imprisoned for murder, endless disciplinary controversies, divorce, booze, bankruptcy, and even having to play Stephen Hendry. Jimmy White and Ronnie O’Sullivan sat down together with Telegraph Sport in a King’s Cross snooker club, and this is what they had to say about life, the green baize, and everything…

O’Sullivan: I loved his flair, the way he played the game. All the other players, they were all cueing up [O’Sullivan mimes a doddery, arthritic caution] like this, but Jimmy had style. Alex Higgins too, they had that charm about them. I think Ayrton Senna said like “it was pure racing”. When Jimmy and Alex played, it was pure snooker. And I think other people sort of destroyed that organic feeling, you know? They try and coach it out of themselves in some sort of way, become like robots. Jimmy brought rock ’n’ roll to snooker.

White: I’d heard about him when he was a young kid but I hadn’t seen him. I played him at Norbreck Castle when he was a teenager: I won the first game and lost the next five. I was, you know, a sort of on-the-road person then and I wasn’t really playing. But I knew at the time it was great for snooker, a breath of fresh air, and the game needed an amazing talent like that. He took the attacking stuff from me and he watched Steve Davis for the brilliant defence and combined them for the full package. But then with his own talent he produced this magical way of there being nothing on the table and then clearing the balls up. He took the game to a new level.

O‘Sullivan: Talking about combining, Stephen Hendry had that quality like he was half-robot, half-human, I call him a hybrid. [White laughs]. You need that to be a prolific winner, but if the sport only had that sort of player would it be as entertaining? Probably not. But Jimmy, Jimmy would just turn up in his suit, bring excitement to a room, a whole place. He’s unique.

Jimmy & Ronnie
CREDIT: EDDIE MULHOLLAND FOR THE TELEGRAPH

[White has now pulled a large wad of money of his pocket and is jokingly passing it to O’Sullivan by way of payment for the testimonial.]

White: We are similar sort of people. We like to go out, have a good time.

O’Sullivan: I showed him the ropes, you know.

White: He gives me 21 at that game now. I don’t go out all that much any more, I enjoy the normal things in life, but we have a bit of fun occasionally. When you’re on the road, you’d have quite a few people with you, and they wouldn’t perhaps be able to enjoy themselves like we do. So we treat people. Me and Ronnie always seem to pick up most of the bills.

[Stories of White “on the road” are of course legendary, from popping out to the shops and coming back a fortnight later; to taking his dead brother to the pub; to epic benders at Ronnie Wood’s house with a white-gloved Keith Richards serving the drinks as White and O’Sullivan played a snooker match. Between them they made nine centuries in 11 frames: perhaps they should let Keef do the refreshments at The Crucible.

I ask White if he ever feels under pressure from an adoring public to be the life and soul, but he interprets the question in a way I wasn’t anticipating].

Hendry & Jimmy
Jimmy White shakes hands with Stephen Hendry before the 1994 World Snooker Championship final (the last of White’s six finals [to date]) CREDIT: ALLSPORT UK/ALLSPORT/GETTY IMAGES

White: Listen, I could have won the World Championship. Obviously if I had the chance to do it all again I would do things differently. But then would I have still wanted to play? Being realistic it is very difficult for me to win the tournament now but my game’s not gone. I still enjoy it. What I should have done is prepared better.

O’Sullivan: I would have changed a few things too. There was a period from about 19 to 25 when I just got absolutely hammered. I smoked myself to death. Skunked myself to death. And that was a coping mechanism for me. Because I think my dad going away when I was 16 kind of hit me but didn’t really hit me. And it took time for that to sink in. Once it did, well by then I needed a release. And I found the release in the wrong things basically. If I had found the release in doing triathlons I would have been Olympic champion by now probably. Once I get stuck into something I take it to its limits. And I think that’s what I did with drinking and smoking dope for a while. And them six years, if I could change them I would.

White: Talent, it can become a trap. Back in the day, when there weren’t so many good players, you’d have a good time and then you’d do a couple of days practice during a tournament but that’d be it. You’d get it back together, and you probably had the natural talent to get into the semis or something. But that’s no way to be in sport. And sometimes you’d win, and you might be laughing with your mates, thinking: ‘Oh, I have won that and the only practice I have done is in the tournament.’ And you get big-headed. You think you’re better than you are. But the game’s bigger than anyone.

01:06

[O’Sullivan and White have been doing TV punditry and have surprised themselves with how much they’re enjoying it]

White: Ronnie asked me to do Eurosport about 18 months ago and I thought ‘I really don’t want to do that’. But it has been fantastic. I watched more snooker in the last 18 months than I have done in 40 years.

O’Sullivan: I could never watch a game of snooker before. After half an hour I’d be like: ‘Oh no. I’ve got to go.’

White: Yeah! And now we’re like, ‘Here, this is good.’ And not gambling. When I was gambling I could watch it, but I’m not gambling now and we’re like on the edge of our seat. In that studio, watching it, really enjoying it. And a couple of special things have happened. A friend of Ronnie’s – I know him, I get on with him and I get on with most people but I don’t really have many friends, more associates. Yeah so this kid called Anthony Hamilton won his first tournament last year [the German Masters] and it was such a great thing. And then we had Mark King, who was sort of a journeyman, and he went and won one. So there’s been a lot happening. Being there live was good, wasn’t it?

O‘Sullivan: Yeah it was. We get really into it.

White: Before Hamilton won in Germany, he’d got to the semi in the Northern Ireland Open, he was hitting the balls great, about to win the frame he needed, and we were going ‘this is effing brilliant’. And then he lost the match in the worst way.

Ronnie Masters
Ronnie O’Sullivan lifts the Paul Hunter Trophy after winning the Masters at Alexandra Palace last January while Jimmy White applauds CREDIT: JOHN WALTON/PA WIRE

O‘Sullivan: Yeah, he like touched the white. Feathered it. It was so bad. And if he’d went out and hanged himself you’d have gone: ‘Yeah, I get it.’

White: Yeah.

O’Sullivan: For a snooker player, you know, I get it. You’d want to check on him that night. Make sure he’s all right. Anyway, he come in afterwards and he said: ‘You know two weeks ago I didn’t even have enough money to enter the tournament.’ And this is like one of my mates, we grew up practising together. And he’s the most beautiful guy. And you don’t get to know this about a person but he just come in and told us, we were sitting there like ‘Jesus Christ!’ And he said, ‘I didn’t even want to ask my mum and dad for the money.’

White: Ronnie turned to him and said: ‘Mate, I would have lent you five grand.’ But that was just off the camera because Ronnie was talking to him as a mate. It was quite an emotional thing. And I said: ‘Aw what a —-ing nice guy!’ and the producers were like: ‘You can’t swear! Stop it!’ And then Hamilton went on to win the next tournament.

O‘Sullivan: Yeah, he won his first tournament a couple of weeks later and we were there. [After that white ball] you don’t know how to console him, you don’t know what to say, and then the next month he is wining the German Open. He is a journeyman but he is a class act. His mum and dad were there.

Jimmy
Jimmy White – snooker’s perpetual bridesmaid in World Championship finals CREDIT: EDDIE MULHOLLAND

White: And he was cueing beautiful. Like a top four player. So we’ve enjoyed that. And it’s been good doing the TV with Eurosport. I got such a buzz being there. People come to you for advice.

O’Sullivan: Yeah people come to me, to Jimmy. Liang Wenbo comes to me, we’re both geeing the players up.

White: See your pal Wenbo, he’s another one that could win anything but he has never produced. He’s a brilliant story, Chinese player that has come over. He lives in Essex and he is a good friend of Ronnie’s. He’s getting the advice of Ronnie nearly each round, you know what I mean. Ronnie is saying to him to chill out.

O’Sullivan: I am giving him the diluted version of what I have been getting from [his psychiatrist] Steve Peters. And I know it works so I pass it on: you need to switch off your emotions, because you cannot control your form. All you can control is your mind. You have to realise that you might play the whole match rubbish but you can still control your own mind. So I tell him that.

White: Some of these players now, they might have played for five years and not won a tournament and that’s no life at all. Having to play 12 months a year.

O’Sullivan: It can be lonely for some people, the circuit. But not for us, because we have a life [away from the sport].

White: It’s like the golfers all used to travel together but now they get proper money they all have private jets so they just travel on their own if they can’t stand each other. With us we’re all stuck together …

O’Sullivan: Yeah, stuck on a minibus.

White: Well not quite that but you’re at a service station waving through the window going ‘Hello mate’ but really you’re thinking: ‘Oh just eff off.’

Ronnie
Ronnie O’Sullivan was inspired by watching Jimmy White as a youngster CREDIT: EDDIE MULHOLLAND

O‘Sullivan: A lot of sportsmen when they are not doing their sport they lose their identity. You can play golf, tennis, but unless you’ve had it off and won the Euro Lottery you cannot retire as a snooker player or a dart player. They need to do a bit of commentary, a bit of punditry. But I think it’s important to try and pre-empt that stage so that you, you know … I don’t want to let snooker kill me. I want to use snooker so I can get from 40 to 65. I wanted snooker to be everything that I wanted to do, but then what else do I do with my time? I think I will always play snooker, but I think there will come a point where no matter how good you think you are you, are not going to get the buzz if you are not …

White: Producing.

O’Sullivan: Yeah, producing.

White: So you are weaning yourself off.

O’Sullivan: Yeah

White: I think that’s smart. You have to look at people that’s gone before you.

O’Sullivan: You cannot think: ‘Oh this is not going to happen to me.’ You have to forget that mindset, because you’re not invincible. Because we are all human. We all need purpose in life.”

Watch the English Open live on Eurosport and Quest with studio analysis from Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jimmy White. Also available via the Eurosport Player.

Enjoy!

Exhibition Stuff

Jimmy and Ronnie were yesterday in London, at an event organised by Discovery/Eurosport UK promoting the Home Nations Series that starts next week with the English Open 2017. They played a few frames against each other, just exhibition stuff but clearly enjoyed by the audience, Andy Goldstein, the MC on the day, and the players.

Here are a few pictures, and the video that was shared by Eurosport UK, live, on Facebook. Enjoy!