Dave Hendon and Michael McMullan discuss rankings and “Gods of Snooker”

Episode 159 of the Snooker Scene podcast is out and can be found here.

Dave and Michael discuss two main themes: the ranking system and the BBC “Gods of Snooker” series.

Regarding the rankings, basically they believe that the current system is too top-heavy and that, with Barry Hearn retiring, now is a good time to maybe reconsider it. I agree.

David Hendon actually comes up with a proposal, and here it is provided I understood it correctly:

  • Each event should be classed in a category, depending on the prize money available for the winner of the event. A category or “band” woud be associated with a “range” of prize money. For instance: “500000 or more”, “200000 to 499999”, ect …
  • In Dave’s proposal, each category would be associated with one of the snooker colours, the black category being the most prestigious, the yellow category the less prestigious.
  • Within a category, all events would carry the same amount of ranking points at every stage, in effect “decoupling” the ranking points and their repartition from the prize money. The idea being to make the system less top heavy and to have a certain level of harmonisation between events when it comes to rankings.

I would be 100% in favour of that, with one additional “twitch”: the bands should not be solely about the money but also about the format and matches length. Similar efforts should be rewarded in similar ways. If some lunatic were to offer one million to the winner of the Shoot-out it wouldn’t make the event worth of the “Black band” with huge ranking points in my views, mind you, it would not change my opnion that it simply should never be ranking.

Also, first round losers should still get some money, as they did contribute to the tournamen, did bring value to the sponsor and broadcasters. At the very minimum, playing should not cost them. “Decoupling” money from ranking points may help to get this idea through as giving them something for their work and efforts would not impact the rankings in any way.

Their other main subject was the BBC “Gods of Snooker” series which they praised. I managed to watch all three episodes and I agree: it’s interesting, with lots of material I had never seen before especially in episodes 2 and 3. Also, for once, Alex Higgins wasn’t presented as a “victim” of the system. Whilst his impact on the sport can’t be denied – he changed snooker, and its image foerever and made it what it is today – as a person he was far from “great” and Michael McMullan, who is Northern Irish himself was clear about his opinion that Alex Higgins went away with a lot, far too much actually. I can’t agree more.

Despite its obvious qualities, this is yet another BBC feature focusing on snooker’s past and David was left wondering how and why the BBC always refused to do a feature about Ronnie for instance.

The series “triggered” this “review”:

TV review: Gods Of Snooker went out in a baize of glory

© Andy Hooper/ANL/ShutterstockAlex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins was seen as the wild man of snooker in the 1980s
Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins was seen as the wild man of snooker in the 1980s

Is there a more dreary game to watch than snooker?

Men dressed as waiters push little balls around a table in dead silence for days at a time; as a sleeping aid, it’s probably second only to being hit with a tranquilliser dart while listening to Douglas Ross read Atlas Shrugged.

Yet, in the 1980s, snooker was more rock’n’roll than even rock’n’roll. Well, it was the days of Spandau Ballet.

Gods Of Snooker was a fantastic look at the years when seemingly everyone, high on colour televisions, became obsessed with the parlour pastime.

There seemed to be something about the game that sent the players slightly snooker loopy.

Alex “Hurricane” Higgins wielded a cigarette more than he did a cue, and sank more lagers than he did difficult pinks.

His rival, the more successful and rather dull Ray Reardon, complained nobody talks about him any more, while Higgins is still hailed to this day.

It’s no wonder. Staggering round the table playing cavalier snooker – well, as much as snooker can be described as such – Alex was prone to a rampage away from the table.

Slurred resignations, throwing cues at spectators and threatening to have rivals shot; current snooker wildman Ronnie O’Sullivan looks like Cliff Richard in comparison. They don’t make ’em like this any more.

This isn’t a review, it doesn’t say much about the feature itself and  it’s taken as an opportunity to disparage the sport we love. and I’m not sure that the author watched beyond the first episode, if that. I’m the one who put the “bold” highlight.

Judd is rigth that there is too much focus on the past, and on the UK, and it showed as well in the features WST did in the building of the Q-School: they were mainly about over-40 yo British players trying to regain their tour card. If the sports want to grwo global, and have a future, the focus should be on young aspiring players, and not just the British ones.

 

 

Hustle or Crucible?

Ronnie also spoke yesterday with Desmond Kane (Eurosport) and hinted that he could – possibly – miss the World Championship 2018.

So here is the article:

Ronnie O’Sullivan threatens to miss World Championship for reality TV

Desmond Kane

Ronnie O’Sullivan has revealed he could forfeit the chance to bid for a sixth World Championship due to his business interests off the table.

O’Sullivan has said he could be filming a second series of reality TV programme Hustle in Australia – where he plays pool against local players – when the sport’s biggest tournament begins on April 21 in Sheffield.

He has not missed a World Championship since his first appearance as a teenager at the event in 1993.

“Eurosport events are a priority for me,” said O’Sullivan after his emphatic 4-0 victory over world number 113 Duane Jones at the Northern Ireland Open. “The China events are a priority for me because of my commitment to sponsors.

“If I wasn’t to play in this year’s World Championships, or play in the UK. Or play in any of those tournaments like the German Masters, don’t be surprised. Because I know I can’t play every week.

“For me, I don’t need another UK, another world or another Masters. If my agent thinks it is right for me to go, I’ll go.

” It is a toss up whether I’ll do another Hustle or play in the World Championship in May. I can’t do both. “

“If I do another Hustle, I can’t really play in the World Championship.”

O’Sullivan is the sport’s leading money winner this season having won the English Open in Barnsley and the Shanghai Masters on Saturday. He has also lost finals at the Hong Kong Masters and the Champion of Champions.

“It is good that I’m doing well now because then it doesn’t really matter about the World Championships,” said O’Sullivan. “We’ll just have to wait and see. It is nice to have a safety net.

“I have to prioritise the events I play in. I want to do another Hustle because that is something away from snooker that I can do. There are no restrictions there.

“It is about getting the balance right. 17 days at Sheffield is okay if you win it, but if you don’t win it is a waste of time.

“For me, it is just about managing my time and my diary. I don’t think it is going to be possible to do the show and the World Championships because I have a few things I want to do at the end of May.

“I’ve got some other stuff to do in early June in China. I have a really great relationship with the people in China. It is more important that I put Hustle and that first.”

O’Sullivan has hinted that he would be open to sitting down and listening to a sponsor if there is the incentive of appearance money, a principle World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn has publicly rejected.

“For me, the World Championship is just another tournament. It is about doing what is right for Ronnie, not just being too focused on titles. That is the old me,” said O’Sullivan.

“If the terms are right and we can agree to certain stuff, there should be a way round it. If not, then Hustle is something that is on the table. Everyone enjoyed the last one in America. “

“There is loads of people who want me to do another one in Australia; I have to look beyond snooker. For me, this is just a shop window. It is tournaments rather than doing I’m A Celebrity. It is just keeping playing and having fun.

“I know people want to see my playing snooker, but there are other things I like to do away from snooker. Those are the reasons I’m happy today so why would I turn my back on something that has made me happy?

“If people can get round the table and come to some common sense..but it is difficult sometimes to come to that middle ground. You have to make some tough decisions.

“I probably have to give them six or seven weeks notice before they begin doing their research in Australia. They go out there and pick spots and places to go. Once the wheels in motion, you can’t let them down. Otherwise there won’t be another series of Hustle.

“Once I commit to it, I have to commit to it. If people want me there, they’ll get round the table sooner rather than later because it is never nice to leave it to the last minute.

“It is not just money, there are certain other things. My agent will sit down with me, and we’ll make the decision.”

O’Sullivan thumped Jones in a very one-sided encounter to reach the third round of the tournament and a last-32 meeting with Elliot Slessor on Thursday.

Obviously, as a fan, I want to see Ronnie play at the Crucible and it certainly wouldn’t be the same without him. But, at the end of the day, he’s nearly 42, it’s his life, his career, his future … and his happiness, therefore it’s his decision and his only. I still really hope things get sorted and that somehow he can do both.

And I don’t like the word “threatens”, he’s not threatening anyone.

 

 

Ronnie’s life in a film?

Not for the first time, the media suggest that a film could be made about Ronnie’s life. It seems that Ronnie has indeed taken a step towards making this a real possiblility. Here is what he told BBC5 today

O’Sullivan told 5 live:

“I’ve sold my life rights away to a company in America and a company in England so it’s down to them now whether they want to produce it or not”.

After being asked who would play him he said Jack O’Connell “is quite up for playing the part” and it would be “fantastic” if it happened.

Watch the full clip here

There are quite a few similarities between Jack O’Connell’s life and Ronnie’s. Indeed both had a troubled youth and both “lost” their father as teenagers, albeit in different ways. Both have Irish ancestry and were raised as Roman Catholics.

Ronnie got it wrong though … Jack is from Derby, not Sheffield, but, hey! It’s only half an hour away by train!

 

Ronnie features in itv documentary Paragon

Ronnie will feature in itv documentary Paragon, scheduled tomorrow at 10:40 pm (UK time)

He tweeted about it yesterday evening

Andy grant, world record holder 10k amputee. Great documentary on Wednesday. Paragon.

ITV REPORT
25 April 2017 at 10:24am

Running has replaced medication for me, says Ronnie O’Sullivan

O’Sullivan features in the ITV documentary Paragon.Photo: ITV

Ronnie O’Sullivan says he uses running rather than anti-depressants to give him a release from pressure and anxieties in a new ITV documentary.

The snooker legend speaks in PARAGON (ITV, 10.40pm Wednesday) which focuses on the story of Royal Marines Commando Andy Grant, who was on patrol in Afghanistan when he suffered 27 injuries after an IED was detonated.

After undergoing the amputation of his right leg, he sets out on a journey to become the world’s fastest amputee over 10k. In the documentary he takes advice from icons like Ronnie, Jamie Carragher and Scott Quinnell.

Ronnie tells him: “When I got into running, it kind of was like a release from all of the pressure and the anxieties that I was going through.”

Grant
Andy Grant and Ronnie O’Sullivan talk openly on Paragon – this Wednesday on ITV, 10.40pm. Credit: ITV

“And I’d been on medication and bits and pieces to try and control those anxieties… I found with running, and I was never a fan of taking anti-depressants anyway, so to find running and realise that running could take [the] place of a tablet, I just thought, ‘It’s up to me now whether I want the easy route or the one that’s a bit more effort, rather than dishing out pills or tablets.’

“You know, go out for a walk, go out for a run. Find a partner, commitment, and watch your life get better – watch your perspective on life improve. And that’s what running gave me, it gave me that outlet to kind of get rid of those negative thoughts or whatever was going on.”

“A lot of my success on the table is the fact that I found running, and that’s why I say it’s so important to me. Healthy body and healthy mind is what makes champions.”

The programme documents Andy’s story in Afghanistan, the injuries he suffered, meets the surgeon who amputated his leg, Andy talks about his road to recovery, and it shows the advice he takes from friends and icons like Jamie Carragher, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Scott Quinnell, along with the training and the run itself.

  • Watch PARAGON on ITV 10.40pm Wednesday 26th April
Last updated Tue 25 Apr 2017

Check the link for the trailer video

Ronnie’s American Hustle – Episode 1

Yesterday evening, whilst Ronnie was at the China Open qualifiers, the first episode of the American Hustle was shown on HistoryUK and I must say, I love it! It’s informative, it’s interesting, it’s fun.

In fact just read this article , it tells you all you need to know.

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s American Hustle is much more than just a few games of pool… although the Rocket looks most at home with a table in front of him

  • Ronnie O’Sullivan’s American Hustle sees him touring famous USA pool halls
  • O’Sullivan is partnered by veteran sports broadcaster Matt Smith for the trip
  • The first show offered interesting history alongside the game being played 

By Mark Webster for the Daily Mail

PUBLISHED: 11:36 GMT, 27 January 2017 | UPDATED: 14:29 GMT, 27 January 2017

Last Sunday, not for the first time, Ronnie O’Sullivan was king of the hill. The sight of the Rocket lifting the Masters trophy in front of an adoring crowd at Alexandra Palace has become a familiar sight to telly audiences.

However, on Thursday evening, Ronnie wasn’t in Haringey any more. In fact, save for the fact he had occasion to have a cue in his hand and a tableful of balls in front of him, he was a man completely outside of his comfort zone.

The History Channel had sent one of snooker’s favourite sons on a tour of some of America’s most iconic pool halls to take on some celebrated heroes at their own game. 

At least, that is the basic premise behind the new series Ronnie O’Sullivan’s American Hustle, which debuted with a trip to New York City.

The good news is, it is clearly so much more than just watching Ronnie play a few frames of pool. No, the big break for me is that American Hustle also does what it says on the channel and positively wallows in the history and culture that helped shape the game, and indeed its country of origin, over the decades.

Which is why, shall we say, borrowing the title of a recent blockbuster film hasn’t ended up looking like daylight robbery. Because this American Hustle is a full blown road movie. That’s bursting with Hollywood backdrops, and what’s more, it’s a buddy picture, to boot.

Along for the ride is Ronnie’s mate, and of course dab hand at the telly stuff, Matt Smith. Matt’s part in the proceedings is very important. 

He not only uses his broadcasting chops to steer us through the various elements to the programme. He also makes sure that Ronnie remains unselfconscious on camera. Which can often be his nemesis when he’s asked to do anything other than simply set the green baize ablaze.

Which means that their trip up, under and around the city remained entertaining and easy going throughout – and with it, frequently enlightening. 

There’s a trip to Ellis Island. Some street basketball under a bridge. A hot dog from the street. A ride to the top of the Empire State Building, where we learned that the Ally Pally is just about as high as Ronnie likes to go, and that the Rocket’s cure for a phobia of flying is ‘Flappy Birds.’

However, even though Ronnie certainly seemed a happy tourist, he did look most at home when there was an oblong table in front of him. As they rode around in a vintage yellow taxi, Ronnie told Matt he ‘grew up playing pool in a pub’. But that was cue chalk and cheese ‘n’ onion by comparison.

So it was fascinating watching him taking on board hustling tips from Kid Delicious. Then practising the subtle art of the ancient ancestor of pool and billiards, carom. While he was absolutely in his element visiting Blatt Billiards, with its hoards of antique tables and loving crafted new ones.

Of course, the end game for the programme is to watch Ronnie in the lion’s den. Which for this episode, was a match against Queens legend Earl ‘The Pearl’ Strickland. 

Here, the whole thing became pure theatre. With Earl playing his role to perfection. While some stunning camerawork and editing gave the whole thing an appropriately filmic quality.

As I said, the Rocket winning or losing frames or dollars is why he and Matt went on their epic journey. That is clearly going to be a sight to see. But to watch O’Sullivan put the cue back in the bag and soak up a whole new world with his mate alongside him may just end up being this series’ ultimate winner.

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s American Hustle is on Thursdays at 10pm on HISTORY 

If you missed it, here it is

 

Filming, promo, China Open 2017 draw … and more.

Ronnie was busy today, filming some promotional stuff ahead of the broadcasting of his documentary “American Hustle” for History Channel.

This is what he tweeted, along with these two pictures:

Doing some promo filming for @HISTORYUK American hustle out in the new year

4 games of pool at once filmed in 360

According to Matt Smith on twitter the first show is scheduled on January 26, 2017.

Meanwhile Worldsnooker has published the draw and format for the China Open 2017 qualifying round, to be played in Preston, end January 2017. The players have to win one match, the main event being played in Beijing from the last 64 on.

Tuesday 20 Dec 2016 03:57PM

The draw and format for the qualifying round of the 2017 China Open is now available. It will take place at the Guild Hall in Preston from January 24 to 27, with the winners going through to the final stages in Beijing in March.

click-here-for-the-draw

click-here-for-the-format

Ronnie has entered the tournament and will play James Cahill, over best of 9, on Thursday, 26 January at 7pm (UK time)

One tournament Ronnie has NOT entered this time is the Championship League Snooker 2017.

The tournament has been moved from Crondon Park to the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. I assumed that this meant that there would be an audience this time, but apparently that’s not the case. Surely David Hendon will be devastated: the breakfasts and desserts in Crondon Park are famous! And the players will miss the big leather armchairs … Traditions really go out of the window under Barry Hearn!

I doubt though that the deserts or the armchairs have anything to do with Ronnie giving it a miss. The main factors are probably that he’s focusing on ranking events this season and that Coventry isn’t just down the road …

 

Is a film based on Ronnie’s life coming?

If this article in the “Mirror” is anything to go by, yes … but of course it’s only a project for now.

Ronnie O’Sullivan movie has actors cueing up to play snooker legend in Hollywood biopic

Celebrities including Skins star Jack O’Connell want to portray the five-time world champion in the movie based on the life of snooker’s greatest talent.

BY HANNAH HOPE – 19:02, 26 NOV 2016

Actors are cueing up to play Ronnie O’Sullivan in a Hollywood movie based on the life of snooker’s greatest talent.

BAFTA-winning Skins star Jack O’Connell wants to portray the five-time world champion. Two US stars have also put themselves in the frame for the role.

Fans’ favourite Ronnie has had a rollercoaster life with sporting glory contrasted by drug and alcohol addiction, depression and mental breakdown – the last one just seven months ago.

Throw in an OBE for services to snooker, the jailing of his father for murder and his mother for tax evasion and you see why ­ Hollywood has come knocking.

Lionsgate, the giant behind the Hunger Games movies, has already made an approach.

Ronnie – happy again and back with actress fiancee Laila Rouass, 45 – tells the Sunday Mirror: “Lionsgate in America got in contact with my agent. I thought ‘they’re not serious’.

But as its gone on they’ve said they were going to buy the rights to my film and a couple of big LA actors who are snooker fans said they want the part. I said, ‘As long as the film does justice to my life I’ve got no problems with it.’

“I’ve been told it will be along the lines of dramas Whiplash and the Black Swan – which I really liked as it got into the emotions of the character and I think that’s how my career has been.

“I’ve had everything – good, bad and fantastic. I’ve been on a journey of perfection, that’s why I feel like I’ve had a good life.

“I’ve reached perfection in something that I do, I’ve had a wand in my hand. To get that across into a film is great.

Ronnie, nicknamed the Rocket for his speedy play, says 26-year-old actor O’Connell has put first dibs on the lead role.

He says: “Jack O’Connell is interested – he’s a big snooker fan and from the North and he’s followed my career and says he wants the part.

Part of the reason Ronnie is happy again is thanks to Footballers’ Wives star Laila, who lives with him in Essex.

He adds: “Laila and I are enjoying each other’s company and that’s the most important thing. I feel happy now. I feel like I’ve had a good life.

Ronnie is famous for quitting snooker – then returning even better than ever. These days he eases the pressure on himself by choosing carefully which tournaments to play. And, as he is set to turn 41 next week, he’s keen to mentor other players.

I’d get a lot of happiness from helping someone improve just five per cent,” he says. Ronnie has three children, Lily, 10, and Ronnie Jnr, eight, from his ­relationship with Jo Langley, and Taylor-Ann, from a romance with Sally Magnus, which ended in 1996.

And his family background helped lure the interest of ­Hollywood. Parents Ronnie Snr and Maria ran a string of sex shops in London’s Soho. When Ronnie was 18 his dad was given 20 years for the knife murder of East End gangster Charlie Kray’s driver after a nightclub row.

Then Maria was locked up for VAT fraud, leaving Ronnie to care for sister Danielle, then aged eight.

Now the star has poured these formative experiences into a semi-autobiographical crime novel, Framed.

Ronnie added: “My mum was horrified I was writing a crime novel and said ‘I hope you don’t mention me.’ It was a great way to reveal some of the experiences I’ve been through that I couldn’t talk about in my autobiography.

“I seem to be the only one in the family who hasn’t got in trouble. Going to visit them in prison just became part of my life.

“Writing has been one of the best experiences outside of snooker. A bit scary, but once I started to embrace certain things, I realised I have a story to tell other than just snooker player.

Framed is out now, published by Orion, £16.99.