Crucible 2017 – Ronnie back to the ES Studio

WC2017ROSEurosport-1

Ronnie on twitter:

Back with me old mucca jimmy, fouldsy and col at Eurosport. Live at 6:30

Apparently, going by the reactions on social media the gang is doing a great job, but, like many mainland European I can’t watch the Eurosport UK coverage.

I will try to bring as many snippets as I possibly can though …

This is a first one, with this tweet by Eurosport UK:

is a man of many talents!

And Ronnie reveals what he said to Ding when they embraced

2017 WSC: Ronnie at the studio (Eurosport, 27.04.2017.)

2017 WSC: Ronnie at the studio (Eurosport, 28.04.2017.)

Enjoy!

Ronnie’s thoughts about this year’s World Championship favorites

Ronnie gave Germany’s “Mr Snooker” and Eurosport commentator, Rolf Kalb, his thoughts about the favorites in this World Championship. The article is in German .

Ronnie O’Sullivans Favoritencheck für die Weltmeisterschaft 2017

Vom 15. April bis 1. Mai findet im Crucible Theatre in Sheffield die Snooker-Weltmeisterschaft 2017. Snooker-Legende Ronnie O’Sullivan hat das prestigeträchtige Turnier bereits fünfmal gewonnen. Für Eurosport gibt der Engländer seine Favoritentipps ab. Titelverteidiger Mark Selby, Judd Trump, Stuart Bingham oder jemand anderer – wer trägt sich dieses Jahr in die Siegerliste ein?

Warum Titelverteidiger Mark Selby der Favorit ist, Judd Trump der unberechenbarste Spieler und Ding Junhui den WM-Titel längst verdient hätte – Ronnie O’Sullivan macht den Favoritencheck vor der Snooker-WM 2017.

Mark Selby (Titelverteidiger & Nr. 1 der Welt): “Keine Schwächen”

Ronnie O’Sullivan: “Er hat keine echten Schwächen, was wohl das größte Kompliment ist, das man ihm machen kann. Er ist der einzige Spieler, der selbst mit einer für ihn drittklassigen Leistung noch Turniere gewinnen kann. Wenn es über ‘Best-of-19’ geht, und es steht 8:8, kann man sein Geld auf Selby wetten. Er kann abliefern, wenn es zählt. Darum ist er wohl der Favorit.”

Judd Trump (Nr. 2 der Welt): “Manchmal zu selbstbewusst”

O’Sullivan: “Dieses Jahr ist er endgültig erwachsen geworden. Er hat sich sehr verändert und noch mehr investiert, um der beste Spieler zu werden. Seine Stärke ist sein Umgang mit dem Queue. Er kann die Kugel so gut kontrollieren wie kein anderer. Ich bin mir sicher, er rechnet damit, dass es sein Jahr wird. Judd ist manchmal zu selbstbewusst und glaubt, dass er das göttliche Recht hat, einige Spieler zu schlagen. Wenn das nicht passiert, lässt er sich aus dem Rhythmus bringen. Diese mentale Hürde muss er überwinden. Es gibt keinen, der ein größeres Talent hat als Judd.”

Stuart Bingham (Nr. 3 der Welt): “Kann jeden schlagen”

O’Sullivan: “Es war eine kleine Überraschung, als er 2015 Weltmeister wurde, aber seitdem hat er viele Turniere gewonnen. Eine seiner größten Stärken ist die Fähigkeit, große Breaks zu spielen. Er gewinnt manche Frames in einem Durchgang, und wenn er in der Form ist, kann er jeden schlagen. Er hat bei der WM auch schon bewiesen, dass er mit Druck gut zurecht kommt. Wenn er eine Schwäche hat, dann die, dass er schwächere Frames nicht nach Hause bringt. Wenn er nicht in allerbester Form ist, kann er etwas ins Schwimmen kommen. Er ist ein glänzender Scorer und hat ein sehr druckvolles, modernes Spiel. Er gewinnt Frames oftmals mit einem aggressiven Stoß.”

Ding Junhui (Nr. 4 der Welt): “Müsste schon Weltmeister sein”

O’Sullivan: “Ding hätte den WM-Titel schon gewinnen müssen. Er beherrscht das komplette Spiel. Er ist ein guter Scorer, kann aber auch auf Sicherheit spielen. Er hat eine unglaubliche Technik und ist ein echtes Snooker-Brain. Wenn es einen Bereich gibt, wo er sich noch etwas verbessern könnte, dann ist es das Auftreten rund um den Tisch. Würde man nur etwas von Stephen Maguire in Ding Junhui hineinstecken, hätte er jetzt sieben WM-Titel gewonnen. Es sind 17 Tage, und man muss seine Emotionen im Zaum halten. Ding ist in der Hinsicht ein bisschen wie ich. Wenn er sich nicht perfekt fühlt, kann er schnell draußen sein.”

John Higgins (Nr. 6 der Welt): “Nicht mehr so stabil wie früher”

O’Sullivan: “Das größte Kompliment, dass ich ihm machen kann, ist zu sagen, dass er schon etwas mehr hätte gewinnen müssen. Er beherrscht das Safety-Spiel unglaublich gut, hat eine großartige Technik und ist ein ausgezeichneter Scorer. Außerdem hat er ein echtes Snooker-Hirn und ist ein starker Wettkämpfer. Manchmal spielt er so gut, dass er dich wie einen Amateur aussehen lässt. Er ist jetzt in den Vierzigern, und seine größte Schwäche ist, dass er nicht mehr so stabil ist, wie er einmal war. Und er ist, genau wie ich ein Spieler, der mit sich selbst sehr hart ins Gericht geht, wenn es einmal nicht klappt. Und dafür ist in diesem Sport kein Platz.”

Neil Robertson (Nr. 9 der Welt): “Man muss ihn attackieren”

O’Sullivan: “Man muss ihn um jeden Preis attackieren. Wenn man diese Art von nicht vorhersehbarem Snooker mit ihm spielt, kann man ihn verwirren. Und das mag er nicht. Er spielt lieber gegen jemanden wie John Higgins, bei dem man genau weiß, was einen erwartet. Wenn er gegen jemanden wie Trump spielt, regt es ihn auf und bringt ihn aus dem Rhythmus.”

I have tried to edit the automatic  google traduction because it’s not great and some sentences seem to go lost entirely in the process, but when I do it messes up the text layout to such an extend that it becomes unmanageable.

BUT wait… here is a translation by Kathrin Poser, a fellow snooker fan.

THANK YOU KATHRIN!

The crucible theatre in Sheffield is hosting the World Snooker Championship 2017 from 15 April to 1 May.

Ronnie O’Sullivan has won the tournament 5 times already.

He’s talking about his favourites for the title exclusively for Eurosport.

Current champion Mark Selby, Judd Trump, Stuart Bingham or somebody else – who will be on the list of champions?
———

Mark Selby (current champion and No. 1) – “no weaknesses”

Ros: He doesn’t have weaknesses, which is probably the biggest compliment you can give to him. He’s the only player who can win tournaments with a mediocre performance. If it’s a best of 19 and the score is 8:8 you can certainly but a bet on him. He can deliver when it’s crucial. That’s why he’s the favourite.

Judd Trump (number 2) – “too confident sometimes”

Ros: this year he has matured a lot. He has changed a lot and invested time and effort to become the best player. His strength is his cue action. He can control the white ball better than anyone else. I’m certain that he thinks that this is his year. Judd is too confident at times and it seems that he thinks he has the godgiven right to beat some players. If this doesn’t happen he gets out of rhythm. He needs to overcome this mental obstacle. There’s no one else with a bigger talent than Judd.

Stuart Bingham (number 3) – “can beat anyone”

Ros: it came as a surprise when he won in 2015 but since then he’s won many tournaments. One of his biggest strengths is his ability to get big breaks. He can win frames in one visit to the table and if he’s in good shape he can beat anyone. He’s proven that he can handle pressure well. He can get in trouble if he’s not showing up in his best form. He’s a brillIant scorer and and has a very powerful modern game. He often wins frames with one aggressive shot.

Ding Junhui (number 4) – should be world champ by now

Ros: He should’ve been world champ by now. He’s mastering the whole game. He’s a good scorer and he can play good safeties. He’s got an incredible technique and is a real Snooker brain. If there’s one thing he would have to improve then it would be his behaviour at the table. If you’d put a bit of Stephen Maguire into Ding junhui he would have won the worlds 7 times by now. It’s 17 days and you have to control your emotions. Ding is a bit like me when it comes to that. If he doesn’t feel perfect he can be out very quickly.

John Higgins (number 6) – not as consistent as he used to be

Ros: the biggest compliment I can give him is by saying he should’ve won more. He’s brilliant at safeties, is a great scorer and has a great technique. He has a real Snooker brain and is a strong competitor. Sometimes he plays so good that it makes you look like you’re an amateur. He’s in his forties now and his biggest weakness is that he’s not as consistent as he used to be. Like me he’s criticising himself too much/hard if something goes wrong and there’s no place for that in this sport.

Neil Robertson (number 9) – you need to attack him

Ros: you need to attack him at every opportunity. You can confuse him by playing an unpredictable style of Snooker. He doesn’t like that. He likes playing someone like John Higgins where you know what to expect. If he plays the likes of Trump he gets annoyed and that breakss his rhythm.

Here are the videos:

 

2017 WSC: Ronnie on Bingham

2017 WSC: Ronnie on Fu

2017 WSC: Ronnie on Ding

2017 WSC: Ronnie on Higgins

2017 WSC: Ronnie on Kyren Wilson

2017 WSC: Ronnie on Murphy

2017 WSC: Ronnie on Selby

About “those interviews”: Ronnie’s latest ES blog and Barry Hearn’s view

In his latest Eurosport blog with Desmond Kane, Ronnie once again explains why he’s done those strange interviews and tells us about life, snooker, the Crucible and his future.

In an interview with the BBC, Barry Hearn states that Ronnie isn’t breaking any rules, that himself finds the whole thing hilarious and that the game needs him.

Ronnie

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s Wonderwall: There are many things I’d like to say to you, but I don’t know how

Ronnie O’Sullivan

In his latest blog, Ronnie O’Sullivan explains to Desmond Kane why singing Oasis songs, impersonating a robot and discussing weight loss with the media is better than landing a heavy fine by sharing his opinions on snooker ahead of next month’s World Championship in Sheffield.

‘HUGE DISTRACTION’

I’ll keep this brief on why I’ve continued to avoid getting involved in discussing snooker to the media. It is not to be awkward, have a laugh or make headlines. As I pointed out in my last blog, I’ve kept it deliberately short in my interviews due to the nature of the disciplinary letter I received via email from World Snooker before the German Masters in Berlin.

 It was a huge distraction, was poor in tone and timing, and it unquestionably had a negative effect on my performance/results at the World Grand Prix, German Masters and Welsh Open.

At the end of the day, I owe it to the fans of the sport to give my best on the table. Win or lose, the snooker public deserves the best from me at all times.

I gain nothing really from speaking from the heart in my press conferences after matches, but I do stand to lose a lot if I say something that brings the game into disrepute.

As I said in my previous blog, as soon as the topic goes onto snooker, it can land me in hot water with a heavy fine. So I’m giving that a swerve because I don’t need the stress. I have to attend press conferences as part of my duties, but why open up when it is not welcomed?

I felt it was important to explain my reasons for recent happenings so the snooker fans will understand why I’ve had some peculiar moments on TV, and in media conferences recently.

Or maybe people won’t understand. Either way, I’m being transparent about the whole situation which I believe is the best way to be.

The snooker fans deserve to know the truth, and understand I’m certainly not doing this to be awkward.

‘CRUCIBLE CAN BE GREATEST OR WORST’

On the whole, my season has been great. I’ve been in four finals and enjoyed a record seventh victory at the Masters in January. I’ll take that in this era.

I’m really looking forward to the World Championship next month. As we all know, it is the greatest snooker event on earth.

The Crucible in Sheffield can be the greatest place to play, but it can also be the worst if things aren’t going well for you. There is nowhere to hide in that venue.

I hear a lot about my performances not being as good as they used to be. Well, I tend to disagree. I think the standard in depth of the sport is as high as it’s ever been. I’m not too doing too badly if you take into consideration my age compared to others, and also my reputation.

I accept that will always be the case because sometimes a player will beat me then not reproduce the same level of form in the next round.

I know this happens to all the great players who have had great careers. You are there to be shot at.

In many ways, it is a compliment, but it doesn’t make it any easier to win matches.

‘FEARFUL, MOODY, NERVOUS AND ANXIOUS’

I’ve taken on other work that has probably helped in taking my eye off playing snooker. I don’t practice as much as I used to, but I’m the happiest I’ve been in my life.

I love doing my punditry, I love doing my books and I’ve loved doing my exhibitions. I loved doing my TV show American Hustle playing pool in the USA. I’ve loved doing my charity work. I’ve loved being able to give back to people who work selflessly to help others.

These are the things that have made me so happy, and my life feels fulfilling.

Snooker was always a self-indulgent pursuit. It was done with such tunnel vision, I never got to really do the things that really made me happy, and it’s only now that I’m realising that there is more to life than potting balls.

But I’m not resentful about that, I’m just regretful I didn’t do it earlier.

It feels as if my life has come alive, the only thing that makes me kind of unhappy is practice and playing in big snooker events.

For the simple reason I become out of touch with life and its joys. When I’m in snooker mode, I suffer from anxiety, I get fearful. I get nervous, I get moody and I isolate myself.

I can manage these emotions much better then I used to, but it still chips away at me.

‘LIFE A THOUSAND TIMES BETTER’

I read a great article about former track cyclist Victoria Pendleton last week.

She went through the same thought process as I did, and thanks to (sports psychiatrist) Doctor Steve Peters, we were both able to reach the heights we were capable of. I truly believe this, and I know that without him working to improve my mental attitude, I would never have been the player I have been over these past five years in winning the world title another few times.

I still feel I can compete on the table, and I will continue to compete for as long as I can. There’s a part of me that will always want the buzz from playing even though it comes with its stresses and anxieties.

I feel I owe it to the real snooker fans to continue. I don’t want to bail out early when I still feel I have something to offer to the public who enjoy the game.

What has become apparent, is that my snooker and my life in general is a thousand times better with all the variety I have.

When we do our punditry work for Eurosport, we have the best time. We have become like a family now. We all meet up at 8am in the morning and go for a 5-8k run which sets the day up nicely. I then get to watch snooker up close which is so much better than watching it on TV.

So the conclusion is that my game might not be as sharp as it could be, but I can still blag it and win a few matches to stay in the top 16.

Of course, losing still hurts, but not nearly as much as it used to. And even if I did drop out of the top 16, who cares? I can still play, and hit a few balls for fun.

‘ENOUGH TALKING’

Snooker is so much better when it’s played with a fun attitude. Some snooker is better than no snooker, that’s how I see it.

To be honest, does it really matter if it says five world titles on my gravestone as opposed to seven? History will judge you how it judges you.

I think life should be about having fun. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve even had fun when things have been bad for me. But when you hit your 40s, you realise it’s not everything in life.

Anyway, enough talking for now. I’m looking forward to Sheffield, the World Championship and all the mixed bag of pleasure it brings.

Speak to you again soon snooker fans.

Barry Hearn:

Ronnie O’Sullivan: Barry Hearn says interviews break no rules

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn says Ronnie O’Sullivan is doing nothing wrong with his unorthodox interviews.

O’Sullivan has talked in a robotic voice and sung an Oasis song in protest at being the subject of disciplinary hearings for several previous comments.

Hearn described the five-time world champion’s antics as “hilarious” but added: “I’m not sure he’s doing himself any favours.

“There’s a players’ contract and Ronnie O’Sullivan’s breaking no rules at all.”

O’Sullivan, 41, publicly criticised a referee and a photographer at the Masters in January, when he won a record seventh title, but his explanation was accepted and no action was taken.

“Ronnie never upsets me with what he says,” Hearn said. “Sometimes he goes too far, and when he goes too far, he’s reported to the disciplinary.

“There is no singling out of Ronnie O’Sullivan, for sure, because we need him in the game.

“Will I talk to him? I talk to him all the time. I am very happy to have a cup of tea, and I told him I think it’s hilarious.

“He’s operating under exactly the same rules as every other player. And he has every right to make any comment through the appropriate channels and they will be listened to. But the appropriate channels are not in the public media.”

Not a happy Ronnie …

Ronnie isn’t happy and in his latest Eurosport  blog he tells Desmond Kane why

Ronnie O’Sullivan: Free speech is being stifled in snooker, I’m no longer willing to meet the cost

Ronnie O’Sullivan

Ronnie O’Sullivan explains why he can no longer accept being fined arbitrary sums for speaking to the media. In his latest exclusive blog, the five-times world champion tells Desmond Kane why he was left with a sour taste in the mouth after winning a record seventh Masters in London.

I was thrilled to win the Masters for a seventh time before another fantastic crowd at Alexandra Palace.

It meant so much to me considering all the ups and downs at the event. As always, I enjoyed the support of the fans so much.

One thing that has slightly taken the shine off my win was receiving another disciplinary letter from the governing body World Snooker about two situations affecting me at the tournament. I’ll try to explain my thoughts here.

Perhaps he was having a bad day at the office, but I felt the referee, Terry Camilleri, was not up to scratch during my semi-final match with Marco Fu at one of our sport’s major events.

And neither was a photographer, who was snapping pictures while I was on the shot.

When asked a question about my match with Marco, all I was giving was my opinion based on 25 years of playing the game. The referee and the photographer affected me so I gave an honest answer to the assembled media about why I wasn’t content with the situation.

What hasn’t been reported was that after the Masters, I made an offer to spend some of my own personal time with Terry to discuss the issue, or in a room with all the referees, to try to help them understand why situations like this occur during matches, and how we can work together to get it right so everybody is happy.

‘IMPORTANCE OF ETIQUETTE IN SPORT’

When I was leading 5-4 against Marco, a pivotal moment of the match, I was going for a very important pot at the start of the 10th frame.

As I’m down on the shot, the guy started moving his camera in my eyeline to get the picture he wanted. I got up off the shot to ask him to keep still while he was in my vision.

I had to ask him at least three times to stop moving while he was in my eyeline. In the end, I had to change the pot I was going for because he wasn’t listening. Is that fair?

He obviously didn’t know the etiquette of not moving in a snooker player’s eyeline while the player is on the shot. It happens a lot in golf, and golf is constantly stressing the need for photographers to respect players before they hit the ball. It should be the same in snooker.

I understand the demands on me to help project a positive image for snooker, but in a sport where we are told all players must be treated equally, the top 16 players the same as the world number 128, is it really fair that cameras are clicking on shots while other players are left alone to play without this distraction?

It is almost feels like you pay the price for getting further in tournaments when there is inevitably more interest.

Out of pure frustration, I said to the cameraman who was among the reporters: “you’re a f****ing nightmare mate, you obviously don’t know not to move in the players eyeline while the player is on a shot”.

I’m not excusing the swearing, and I apologise for that. I’m not trying to upset anyone, all I’m asking for is a sense of decorum during the match. We are all there trying to do our best to entertain, and I know photographers have an important role to play, but we have all have to respect each other.

I didn’t swear on TV, only to 10 or 15 journalists who record comments after the game. Nobody has even heard what I said because it was edited out by the BBC.

I’m not saying I was right to swear, but the photographer could have cost me the match. It was such a tight contest that could have gone either way.

It is appalling to think I could have played a shot that was prompted by a photographer not respecting the etiquette.

It would be good to know what steps World Snooker take to make sure new photographers know the etiquette before letting them snap away when they are only six feet from the table.

‘FINED FOR ANSWERING QUESTIONS HONESTLY’

I don’t know what the outcome is going to be of these two situations, but I will no longer be talking in depth in press conferences or interviews because when I share my thoughts, I risk being fined.

This is not the first time this has happened. There have been several fines I’ve had to pay in the past, and they are not small fines.

For some reason, I appear to get fined more than all the fines the other players get for similar offences.

I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions from that.

In fact, some other players don’t get reported for similar things they have done. Sadly, I feel some of it is a bit personal. Why? Because it has been going on for years.

From now on, when I don’t say much in my interviews regarding snooker, you know why. I will no longer put my head on the chopping block. I don’t need the PR good or bad.

I feel that I’m good to be used for headlines and promotion when it suits, and I think I do more than most in giving my time for interviews.

But then I’m quickly jumped upon the minute my opinions don’t suit them.

It feels like they want to give you it in one hand when you are winning prize money then take it away with the other with their arbitrary fines.

Are the fines worked out by a means testing system? If so, that is simply unfair.

I’m left with two options:

  • a) find a new tour to play on because I still love playing, but not with this constant silliness going on, or
  • b) not speak or give full answers when being questioned about snooker

This is a very sad place to be when you have to resort to that.

If I get fined for implementing the second option then I will no longer be prepared to perform all the contractual obligations we are asked to do for World Snooker.

‘TONE AND TIMING OF LETTERS’

It is not just about the fines.

It is the tone of the letters, and also the timing of them. I’ve received them one day before I’m due to play a big event. How is that helpful to a player preparing for a tournament?

I’m not prepared to continue accepting this when it is evident the governing body don’t seem to have set fines or proper explanations about why people are fined certain amounts.

n view of what’s happened, I think the best way for me to communicate my thoughts, and update everyone in my own words, is by issuing this blog every two weeks.

I think it’s important that I am completely transparent, and let people know exactly what is going on.

This is not a rant, but a measured and factual way that I can communicate with all the people out there without the meaning of my words being twisted and turned into something they are not.

If the president of the US communicates via social media, why can’t I?

In his latest ES blog Ronnie clarifies his “car-boot sales” comments

Speaking to Desmond Kane, Ronnie explains why he said what he said, read it here.

I love snooker, but BBC Sports Personality snub shows we must change attitudes to our great sport

Ronnie O’Sullivan tells Desmond Kane why snooker is one of the world’s great sports as he sets the record straight on claims he was trying to criticise the game he loves during the UK Championship in York.

The five-times world champion says he simply cannot understand why snooker has been snubbed by the BBC Sports Personality awards for over a quarter of a century, and ignored by some newspapers in its lack of coverage for such a popular sport.

I want to use my latest blog to clarify my comments during the UK Championship in York that have been made to look like I was criticising the sport. .

I was asked why I thought snooker players and myself in particular were never on the shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.

My answer to the question was honest and simple: I don’t think snooker is an important enough sport compared to other sports such as tennis, F1, golf, football, cricket, horse racing, boxing and Olympic sports. The list goes on and on.

“If you look at all the nominees over the past 10-15 years, you will see that it is people from the sports listed above that have been shortlisted. Snooker has not featured in the top three since Stephen Hendry was nominated behind Paul Gascoigne in 1990. Which tells its own story. “

‘Prize money adds prestige’

My next point was that I believe if snooker can get to the point where winners collect £1million cheques like they do in golf, tennis and F1, then I believe that would help to change the perception of the sport as the game looks to attract more interest across the globe.

“Bigger prize money would contribute to bringing the sport back to the level of prestige and importance it obviously should enjoy and reached in the 1980s when at the height of Steve Davis’ fame, it was said he spent more time on TV than the PM Maggie Thatcher. “

We had Mark King and Anthony Hamilton telling us how skint they were only four weeks ago. These are two leading players who have been in the top 20 consistently over the past 15-20 years.

I’m not sure this is the perception that any sport wants.

“This was my next point, and I always think it’s important to understand why things are as they are and where you sit within that situation: football rights are worth over £5bn-8bn for three years. Maybe more. BBC pays £6-8 million for the World Championship, UK Championship and Masters for the same period.”

I’m no maths genius, but it’s not hard to work out why snooker is where it is in the pecking order.

‘Traditional media don’t cover the sport properly’

I believe sometimes snooker is fighting for column inches in newspapers which is a problem that has been around for years when it is up against football.

It suits some people to make my comments sound like I’m criticising snooker when that’s the last thing I was doing.

All I was doing was answering a question honestly put to me on why I think snooker is not competing with other sports in the annual Sports Personality of the Year.

“I think the World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn has done a great job so far with snooker. There’s more snooker than ever. More playing opportunities than ever. Full credit to Barry for what he has achieved. “

Happy days for everyone involved in snooker.

‘Snooker was built for TV like tennis’

As far as saying snooker is cheap TV, it is.

“Snooker was a sport made for television back in the 1970s because it is easy and cheap to cover. Otherwise, it would never be on TV. “

Most sport is considered cheap television in comparison to what TV pays for other entertainment when you look at drama and movies.

I stand by what I say as factual.

This is something I’ve learned myself only recently since working on TV projects.

It’s great that we never stop learning.

Ronnie O’Sullivan

Ronnie’s latest blog on Eurosport is out

Ronnie was talking to Desmond Kane again today

The blog post contains videos and images not included here, so make sure you check them

Ronnie O’Sullivan exclusive: ‘This season has been a nightmare, but I’m good enough to end slump’

In writing his first blog of the season, Ronnie O’Sullivan explains to Eurosport’s Desmond Kane why he has struggled for peak form.

Despite losing a thrilling European Masters final 9-8 to Judd Trump earlier this month, the five-times world champion is not happy with his game after losing to Michael Holt in the last 16 of the International Championship and Shanghai Masters and the last 32 of the English Open to Chris Wakelin.

Here Ronnie discusses honestly the ongoing challenges he faces to remain competitive, and why he may have to accept losing to become a winner again.

‘I must improve to challenge for trophies’

It’s not been a great start to the season.

In fact, I’d say it’s been a bit of a nightmare.

I’ve feel like I’ve only played two or three good matches out of 15 – that works out at one good match in five which is not really going to be enough to win events these days.

To be fair, since winning the Welsh Open earlier this year, I haven’t gone beyond the last 16 of any event apart from losing to Judd in the European Masters final in Bucharest.

I’m not sure I want the pressure of it all. I’ve enjoyed branching out into other areas away from the table.

It is something I never wanted to do, but I felt I had no choice at my age and stage of my career .

Snooker is very hard these days. There are loads of events, and lots of travelling.

Unless you win tournaments regularly, there are not great rewards for the top players. But the demands are no less when you have to travel to Barnsley, Wigan and Preston to play qualifying matches.

It is not something I relish, but I accept it is part of the way the game has gone.

I admit it was hard sitting out the sport when I still felt like I had something to offer. That’s why I came back to playing after some time out. But after coming back, the idea of playing was better than the reality.

What I really missed was being at the events and getting the buzz from playing: seeing the boys, the TV people and the tournament officials.

They are like a tapestry of my life. That’s why I’ve enjoyed the punditry work so much, and working at the English Open in Manchester earlier this month.

In fact, I got as much enjoyment out of doing the punditry as I do playing sometimes – that’s great news as I look to the future.

‘I’m committed to snooker, but not only as a player’

I’ll still play snooker just in case everything else goes belly up. That’s the one thing I can do forever without having a boss.

But for now, it will have to fit in around all the other things I do. I need to make snooker become part of what I do, instead of all I do.

The fun bit is seeing if I can nick a competition now and again. I nearly managed it in Romania, but came up short.

I suppose the fans that follow me will have to get their heads around it, just like I’m trying to. I still know that on my game I’m capable of winning events. That I have no doubt about.

But finding the time to practice and play in most of the events at the highest level is proving very difficult.

You don’t always want to go to the club and play for four or five hours, the drive is not the same as you get older.

At the moment, the tour seems like it’s there to cater for 128 players which at my stage of my career makes it a mammoth challenge.

Playing seven matches is hard enough, but to go to Preston and Barnsley to qualify as well just makes it too gruelling.

It’s fine for the younger guys starting out, but it’s not really suitable for me. It wasn’t suitable for me five years ago so it’s only going to get worse as I get older.

But I also have to accept that my best days are probably behind me. I don’t think they are going to get any better than the previous five years I had.

I suppose what I’m trying to do is manage everyone’s expectations of me from this moment on.

Don’t get me wrong, I know things can be fickle. One minute you’re flying, the next you are not.

I know things can turn around quickly. No one wants that more than me.