Women’s snooker news – 15 May 2023

It’s not often that I post about Women’s snooker but I feel compelled to do it today. The 2023 Women’s British Open was played over the week-end and its outcome was set to determine who, from Reanne Evans and On Yee Ng was going to regain a two years tour card starting next season. It was also only the second time that Bai Yulu from China was competing in a WWS event, and after coming runner-up to Baipat in the Women’s 2023 World Championship early March, Yu won the last event of this season yesterday, beating Reanne Evans in the final and On Yee Ng in the quarter-finals.

Here is the report shared by WWS

Brilliant Bai Wins British Open

Bai Yulu has defeated Reanne Evans 4-3 following a thrilling final to win her first world ranking event title at the Landywood British Open, held at the Landywood Snooker Club in England.

The 19-year-old was competing in only her second event on the World Women’s Snooker (WWS) Tour after she sensationally reached the final of the World Championship on her debut just two months ago, and duly added to her growing reputation as one of the most exciting talents in the women’s game with victory at the season finale.

From China, Bai becomes the sixth different player to win a main ranking tournament during the 2022/23 season, following glory for Evans, Mink Nutcharut, Jamie Hunter, Ploychompoo Laokiatphong and Baipat Siripaporn previously.

Having begun her campaign in the group stages, Bai defeated world number 10 Steph Daughtery and debutant Deb Major to reach the knockout rounds, before overcoming Daisy May Oliver, Keerath Bhandaal, Ng On Yee and Ploychompoo Laokiatphong to reach her second consecutive final.

Awaiting her in the title match would be record six-time British Open winner Reanne Evans, after the English star survived a hard-fought last 16 match against Bayarsaikhan Narantuya to win 3-1, before overcoming Maria Catalano and Rebecca Kenna to not only reach the final, but also secure her return to the World Snooker Tour next season. Combined with a surprise last 16 exit for Mink Nutcharut against Jamie Hunter, the result also means that Evans will reclaim the world number one ranking following the tournament.

A repeat of their semi-final at the World Championship in March, the final would prove to be a high-quality encounter as Bai claimed the opening frame before the pair traded breaks of 75 and 66 to see the teenager lead 2-1.

Back came Evans with a top run of 55 as she won two consecutive frames to lead for the first time at 3-2 and move to within a frame of the title, but it was to be Bai’s day as she drew level with a break of 40, before winning a nervy deciding-frame to secure her first major title on the WWS Tour.

Bai also compiled the highest break of the tournament with a run of 105 during her victory against Daisy Oliver on Saturday evening.

Now, I have to say that I feel pretty uneasy with the fact that Reanne will get her tour card back for finishing the year as number one, whilst Yu will have to go to Q-School. If by awarding tour cards to female players WPBSA wants to promote the women in the sport and encourage them to embrace the main tour, then it’s the best of them who should be given those tour cards and I don’t feel that, at this moment in time, Reanne is better than Bai. Bai only had the opportunity to play in two WWS events so far and that’s why she isn’t ranked at the top but… she was runner-up in the first event she played in, the 2023 World Championship, having beaten Reanne by 5-3 in the semi-finals, and she won the second, the 2023 British Open, beating Reanne again in the final.

Don’t get me wrong, this is nothing at all against Reanne who I respect and admire unreservedly. Reanne and Maria Catalano, as players, very much carried the women’s game throughout it worst period whilst Mandy Fisher kept it going against all odds as Chairwoman. They deserve massive credits for that. But, if it’s about giving a professional opportunity to the best female players at this moment in time then probably having Yu and Baipat on tour would be a better choice, especially as both are very young.

Book launch day … 11 May 2023

“Unbreakable”, Ronnie’s latest autobiography, is officially out since yesterday, there was a lot of promotional work going on with interviews and radio shows, notably on BBC sport, TalkSPORT and Virgin radio.

Excerpts of these interviews are available on YouTube:

That comes in addition to the nearly one hour long interview Silvry and Balvark refer to in their comments. Thank you guys!

One thing Ronnie said in those interviews is that, in the coming season, his priority will be on the Asian events and that he might skip UK events in order to keep himself fresh for the “outside UK ” events.

Ronnie himself did a bit of promotion on social media… suggesting that, even if you don’t like like, the book could be useful to you in different ways …

… as a sleep inducer, a coaster or even a door blocker…

The book’s preface was written by Stephen Fry, who also spoke Eurosport’s Desmond Kane


Stephen Fry has paid a glowing tribute to seven-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in reviewing his latest autobiography ‘Unbreakable’. The respected author, actor, comedian and broadcaster feels O’Sullivan is as talented as 15-time major golf champion Tiger Woods and 20-time Grand Slam tennis winner Roger Federer. “A GOAT in the same triumvirate as Tiger Woods and Roger Federer,” said Fry.


UPDATED 11/05/2023

Ronnie O’Sullivan is one of the three greatest living sportsmen in the world alongside Tiger Woods and Roger Federer, according to celebrated author, actor and broadcaster Stephen Fry. 

Ardent snooker fan Fry made the comments in reviewing O’Sullivan’s latest autobiography Unbreakable which studies “the personal challenges and obstacles” the Essex icon has faced to make it to the summit of his sport. 

The world No. 1 has won 39 major ranking titles, a record-equalling seven world titles, seven Masters, compiled a record 1,202 century breaks and produced an unsurpassed 15 147 breaks since turning professional in 1992.

He also holds the world record for the fastest 147 of all time after clearing the table in an astonishing five minutes and eight seconds during his 1997 World Championship match against Mick Price. at the Crucible Theatre. 

Reading this is like watching an O’Sullivan break: hypnotic, dazzling and impossible to tear yourself away from,” said Fry. “When will the world fully realise that Ronnie O’Sullivan is one of the top three greatest sportsmen alive, a GOAT in the same triumvirate as Tiger Woods and Roger Federer? 

This utterly compelling, surprising and beautifully put together book shows us that there is so much more to him than outrageous natural talent. He is as fascinating a human as he is a player. A fabulous read.”

Fry has always been a devoted and vocal O’Sullivan supporter throughout his gilded career and was quick to heap praise on his fellow Englishman after he recorded his landmark 1,000th century break during a 10-4 win over Neil Robertson in the 2019 Players Championship final. 

Ronnie, you’ve done it, a thousand centuries, it’s extraordinary,” he said. “How many more is it than I’ve made? It’s a thousand more than even I have made, it’s an incredible achievement. No one ever thought it would be possible, a millennium of centuries. You’re the millennial man, Ronnie.

I know you must get tired of hearing this, Mozart, genius at work and all that, probably bores you rigid, but I wish you knew, perhaps you do, just how much pleasure you’ve given to millions of us who adore snooker, and who find watching you play one of the most thrilling sights in all of sport.

It’s been a privilege to be alive at the same time as you, Ronnie, it’s a wonderful thing. So thank you, as well as congratulations.”

More snooker reading … Patsy Houlihan

If you hang around older snooker players “Patsy Houlihan” is a name that will pop into the conversation sooner than later. He is mentioned in Jimmy White’s and Steve Davis’ biographies. They will tell you that he was probably the most gifted player they ever watched or played.

Luke G Williams became fascinated with this character, put a lot of energy and work into researching archives, documents and interviewing contemporaries. The result is a book.

WST has been reviewing it and speaking to the author.

The Greatest Snooker Player You Never Saw

Luke G. Williams explains what drew him to spend more than two decades researching the life and times of a snooker subculture legend…

Until I read Jimmy White’s autobiography in 1998, I’d never heard of Patsy Houlihan.

When I read that White regarded him as one of the greatest snooker players he’d ever seen, my curiosity to find out more about Houlihan soon became an obsession, which in turn became an unwavering determination to bring his remarkable life to wider attention.

My quest finally ended last month, when my book ‘The Natural: The Story of Patsy Houlihan, The Greatest Snooker Player You Never Saw’ was published.

As ‘The Natural’ hits bookshelves, it is 45 years since Houlihan’s sole appearance at The Crucible. In the 1978 world championship he beat Chris Ross and JIm Meadowcroft in qualifying to seal a place in the last-16 in Sheffield against Cliff Thorburn. Houlihan succumbed 13-8, but not before he had shown glimpses of his formidable talents with a string of fluent breaks.

Boy, was [Patsy] a smooth player,” is Thorburn’s recollection. “I had to be very careful against Patsy because if the balls were open he could get to you. A very dangerous player.” Truth be told, Houlihan – then 48 – was already in decline, fading eyesight and issues with recurrent conjunctivitis having blunted his considerable powers.

Patrick William Houlihan was born on 7 November 1929 in Deptford, south-east London and died 77 years and one day later, having spent his entire existence living within a small radius of the place of his birth.

Deptford was everything to him,” Houlihan’s daughter Patsy Girl told me, and in old-school pubs and snooker halls south of the river, his name is still spoken of in awed tones. Comedian Simon Day recalled: “What a legend Patsy was. He was like the Sasquatch – rarely seen but older snooker hall lags would always say [when they saw someone else play]: ‘he couldn’t beat Patsy!’”

Although his pro career from 1971 until 1993 was modest, Houlihan’s record as an amateur was sensational – comprising seven London titles, the first back in 1954, as well as the coveted English Amateur Championship in 1965.

In that English Amateur triumph, Houlihan thrashed future world professional champion Spencer 11-3 in the final at the Blackpool Tower Circus in front of 1,750 spectators, having already disposed of world amateur champion Gary Owen and future six-time world professional champion Ray Reardon.

Houlihan’s 6-5 victory against Reardon – after trailing 5-1 – was arguably the greatest amateur match ever played. “As we shook hands, Ray said I ought to be locked up,” Houlihan later chuckled. “As he was a policeman then, I thought that was rather good.”

Houlihan’s overall record in the English Amateur Championship was stellar – comprising 64 wins from 77 matches. His peak? Twelve months from mid-1964 until 1965 when he won 20 straight matches and five successive trophies – the London, Southern and English titles, plus the BA&CC ITV Television trophy and the Muswell Hill ‘Green Man’ tournament.

Houlihan’s amateur record was compiled at a time when unpaid snooker possessed far more strength in depth than the stagnant professional ranks, with the likes of Cliff Wilson, Ron Gross and Marcus Owen battling Houlihan for supremacy.

Sadly, none of this richly talented generation were encouraged to turn pro at their peaks by then snooker tsar Joe Davis and the small band of other inward-looking professionals. In Houlihan’s case, Davis disapproved of Patsy’s penchant for hustling and playing for money, often in insalubrious snooker halls.

As former WPBSA chairman Rex Williams told me: “Joe was very particular who came into the professional ranks. He looked into your background and if [it] was even slightly shady there was no chance. [Patsy] applied and was turned down. He came from a very poor working-class background… That shouldn’t have been held against him, but it may have been.

The truth was, hustling and money matches were the only way for a working-class lad like Houlihan to earn a living from snooker – and make a living he did. Indeed, such was his formidable reputation that he had to formulate innovative wagers to persuade people to risk playing him.

Six-time world champion Steve Davis recalled: “[Patsy would] play people and he wouldn’t be allowed to have the cue ball touch a cushion or whatever. People would think they would be able to beat him if he had that type of handicap but he was so skilful that he could still win.” At other times, Houlihan would play for money one-handed, left-handed, or even with the end of a broom rather than a cue.

Houlihan’s chances of turning pro were not aided by a criminal record acquired in 1966 when a spot of drunken high jinx saw him break into a warehouse with a couple of drinking buddies.

This misdemeanour, along with the Indo-Pakistani War, prevented him from participating in a delayed world amateur championship in 1966. It was also probably the reason why an application to turn professional in May 1969 was rejected; by then Spencer and Reardon had been welcomed into an expanded pro circuit but Houlihan was frozen out until 1971.

Heartbreakingly, no video of Houlihan in action has survived save for the briefest of snippets. As such an objective appraisal of his greatness is hard to formulate, although the testimonies of those who saw him play are instructive.

Jimmy White, who spent many hours playing with Houlihan and Tony Meo at the legendary Pot Black club in Vardens Road, Battersea in the 1970s, still rates him as the greatest – or among the greatest – cue men who ever lived.

Some days Patsy struggled because he’d been drinking the night before or gambling or whatever, but when it all connected and he started performing, he was like no one else on earth,” White explained. “There are certain people in this world, certain sports people, like Floyd Mayweather in boxing or Tiger Woods in golf, like Ronnie O’Sullivan at times today, that when they hit their peak they just can’t be beat … Houlihan was like that.

Another Houlihan advocate is Bill King, father of tour veteran Mark, who after decades in and around the snooker circuit remains unswerving in his view that Houlihan was “the best snooker player I’ve ever seen”.

Houlihan’s swiftness around the table was legendary and he is thought to be the first player to complete a century in less than four minutes. The man who now holds the record for the fastest televised century, Tony Drago, only saw Houlihan play when he was past his peak, nevertheless the Maltese flyer admits: “We played the same sort of game, Patsy and I, except he was probably even faster.”

Movingly, a common thread among those I spoke to about Houlihan was that he was a man whose generosity towards others, particularly young players, was considerable. Having missed out on success in the professional ranks, Houlihan had every reason to be bitter, but instead he chose kindness.

Example? Former pro Tony Meo customarily refuses interview requests these days, however he made an exception when it came to Patsy Houlihan, ringing the author and saying: “I’ve been approached to do all sorts of stuff about snooker in the 1980s … and I’m just not interested. But you’re doing something very good by writing about someone who was such a nice man, and that means more to me.

It’s nice that Patsy Houlihan’s being remembered because he was a decent soul… What can I say? We loved him.”

‘The Natural: The Story of Patsy Houlihan, The Greatest Snooker Player You Never Saw’ is published by Pitch. Luke G. Williams has been a writer for more than 25 years and tweets @boxianajournal

Main image: Houlihan (right) with Welsh snooker talent Clifford Wilson outside Burroughes and Watt in London. (Seamus Phelan)
Home page image: A publicity photo taken of Houlihan during his later years on the pro tour. (Patricia Houlihan)

I haven’t read the book … yet. But I will read it, definitely.

If you are interested, but not living in the UK, finding the book might be very difficult. It’s however available on Amazon. Now I’m NOT at all a fan of Amazon business model but sometimes, if you really want a book, you have no other choice. It’s available in kindle version as well.

“Unbreakable” – an interview …

Ronnie’e new autobiography book comes out on 11th of May 2023 … that’s two days from now.

Here he is giving an interview about it

Ronnie O’Sullivan: I no longer question my addiction

​The snooker ace talks about finally finding balance and taking care of his mental health.

By Helen McGurk

Snooker star Ronnie O’Sullivan.

After a life that’s proven almost as colourful away from the table as on it, Ronnie ‘The Rocket’ O’Sullivan, snooker genius and recovering addict, reckons he has found some balance.

“I’m less intense. I’ve not mellowed in that I’ve changed my personality, but I’ve learned to just not take myself too seriously. I’m much more philosophical,” says the seven times world champion.

At 47, he’s been at the top of his game for longer than many of his peers. Yet it wasn’t an easy start for the former ‘bad boy’ of snooker – given his family history (his father was jailed for murder when O’Sullivan was 16) and his battles with drugs, alcohol and depression.

He won his latest world title just last year – but was defeated by Luca Brecel in the quarter-final of this year’s World Championship at The Crucible, Sheffield – and has overcome periods of self-doubt, plus a year-long break from the game, only to come back stronger than ever.

His struggles with severe anxiety and ‘snooker depression’ are charted in his latest book, Unbreakable, which largely focuses on how he’s tackled his “mental wellbeing”.

These days, he runs, paints and sticks with people he considers to be true friends, far away from the celebrity circuit. He has a good relationship with both his parents, who are divorced (his father was released from prison in 2010 after serving 18 years), and has been with his partner, Holby City actress Laila Rouass, for a decade (although they briefly split last year).

It’s good,” he says of their relationship, smiling. “She’s great. I love her. She’s great company and I love being around her. She’s very supportive. I have to behave myself – I know when to go, ‘Alright, you’re in charge’. But she’s also really good at going, ‘Listen, you’ve got a busy life, you’ve got a lot to do, just get on with it’.

Now it feels a lot better – everyone’s just in a better place. I just want to see her and her daughter happy [Rouass has a teenage daughter from a previous relationship], and her family, who are like my family, happy.”

In the book, he says his worst times were between 1994-2000 and that rehab and running saved him, while the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Steps programme and a good sports psychiatrist have also helped.

I went to AA and NA, I learned about addiction and struggled for about three or four years, because I just couldn’t accept that I was an addict,” he says today.

Now I don’t question it, whereas before, I’d go out and try to drink sensibly and fail miserably. So now, I think, don’t even start. They say if you stand outside the barber’s long enough, eventually you’ll get a haircut. So I stay away from clubs, from people that drink. They’re not for me, because eventually that will be me.”

He uses a diary he’s kept for the last 10 years to help manage his anxiety, putting smiley, neutral or miserable faces against entries and then working out what triggers him – which is often taking on too much – and has developed a template to maintain his mental wellbeing.

I’d rather just stay simmering with my work, which means I’m not at high intensity all the time, just ticking over.”

O’Sullivan has been described as “the most naturally gifted player ever”. He was potting balls from age seven, had scored his first century by 10, beating all in his wake before turning professional at 16.

He earned the nickname ‘The Rocket’ for his fast pace and still holds the record for the fastest maximum (147) of five minutes eight seconds. But the pressures of snooker and a disrupted family life came at a price.

O’Sullivan’s Sicilian mother Maria also spent time in jail for tax evasion, leaving him to look after his little sister Danielle. His father’s imprisonment had a huge effect on his life.

That was the biggest thing that just ravaged me, mentally and emotionally, it just ruined me. I thought, that’s it, I’m never going to see him and we’re never going to have that relationship any more. It’s just two hours on a visit once a month and loads of phone calls. I just wanted him there.

His misspent youth and problems with drugs, alcohol and depression – plus spells in rehab – have been well charted in his two previous autobiographies. Unbreakable focuses more on how he feels when he’s playing, and how he’s learned to take care of himself.

He says his relationship with his father – who currently lives in a campervan – since he came out of prison is great.

At the start, everyone was just adjusting. You know, my dad’s an alpha male and he was like, ‘I’m back and I’m in charge’, but I was 36 , knew what I was doing and didn’t need to be told. Now he just backs off. We have a great relationship. I see him all the time.”

He largely credits his improved mental health to his mentor, sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters.

I’ve learned everything from Steve Peters. He has given me the ability to work it out for myself now, to get on with it and not be afraid to confront stuff and know how to get on top of it.”

O’Sullivan admits in the book that he hasn’t been the best parent, doesn’t see his eldest child Taylor-Ann and hasn’t been a hands-on parent to his two other children, after his relationship with their mother broke down.

Given the opportunity, I would have liked to have done loads more, but it got to a point where I thought it was best for everyone, for my sanity and their sanity, that as long as they’re healthy, they’re good, I’m going to play the long game. I’ll be here.”

His experiences have made him stronger, he insists, and he hopes he may forge a better relationship with them as they get older – he sees his younger two children at weekends and in the holidays, and they were at The Crucible in Sheffield last year to see him lift the World Championship trophy.

In some ways, he is looking forward to his snooker career coming to an end – he predicts he may continue for another couple of years, or longer – but while he’s still doing well, he won’t quit.

Now, though, he is able to separate his snooker life from his other interests, and the balance has helped him love the sport again.

We still do the things we love, but we have a way of detaching ourselves from that for a certain amount of time to give ourselves a break and live life a bit – and then have the confidence that when I go back to it, it’s still going to be there,” he says.

I hope people will go out and will start to listen to their instincts. At some point, it can be the simplest thing, whether it’s walking your dog, going for coffee with a friend, hanging out with certain people that make you feel good about yourself… sprinkling your life with little things that just feel good.”

Unbreakable by Ronnie O’Sullivan with Tom Fordyce is published by Seven Dials on May 11, priced £22.

2022/23 Snooker Awards

WST/WPBSA have announced their Snooker Awards for the 2022/23 season

Allen Named 2022/23 Player Of The Year

Mark Allen, winner of three tournaments during the 2022/23 season, has been named WST Player of the Year for the first time.

Having won the Northern Ireland Open, UK Championship and World Grand Prix, Allen was the only player to capture three trophies during the season. The 37-year-old from Antrim also reached the final of the British Open, the semi-finals of the World Championship and rose to a career high position of third in the world.

Allen also won the Snooker Journalists’ Player of the Year award, voted by media around the world who cover snooker, as well as the Fans’ Player of the Year award, voted by fans on the WST website, app and on social media platforms in China.

The Performance of the Year category was won by Luca Brecel, for his spectacular display in winning the World Championship for the first time, beating Mark Selby 18-15 in the final.

Selby took the Magic Moment of the Year award for his maximum break against Brecel as he became the first player ever to make a 147 during the world final.

Julien Leclercq

Belgium’s 20-year-old Julien Leclercq won Rookie of the Year, having reached the final of the Shoot Out and climbed to 80th in the world during his first season.

A new category was introduced this year – Breakthrough Player of the Year – for a young player who has made a leap forward in his career. This went to China’s Si Jiahui for his tremendous run to the semi-finals of the World Championship.

John Virgo has been inducted into the World Snooker Tour Hall of Fame for his outstanding contribution to the sport for more than 50 years – read more on that here.

WST Awards: 2022/23 winners
WST Player of the Year – Mark Allen
Fans’ Player of the Year – Mark Allen
Snooker Journalists’ Player of the Year – Mark Allen
Performance of the Year – Luca Brecel
Rookie of the Year – Julien Leclercq
Magic Moment of the Year – Mark Selby’s 147
Breakthrough Player of the Year – Si Jiahui
Hall of Fame: John Virgo

Player of the Year – former winners
2011: John Higgins
2012: Ronnie O’Sullivan
2013: Mark Selby
2014: Ronnie O’Sullivan
2015: Stuart Bingham
2016: John Higgins
2017: Mark Selby
2018: Ronnie O’Sullivan
2019: Judd Trump
2020: Judd Trump
2021: Judd Trump
2022: Neil Robertson
2023: Mark Allen

Congratulations to All!

It’s hard to disagree with this season’s awards. I’m glad that they introduced a new category to recognise Si Jiahui outstanding achievements. It’s quite remarkable, and pleasing that two mainland European players received an award. Both are Belgian. There are only three Belgian players on tour, all young, and two earned special recognition this season.REALLY, it is time for WST to reflect on their UK centric tour structure and to do what’s needed to give players and fans outside UK, and in mainland Europe in particular, more and better opportunities, actually equal opportunities. They call themselves WORLD Snooker Tour … it’s time to live by their chosen name.

Ronnie O’Sullivan News – 5 May 2023

Ronnie hasn’t had the best season but he wasn’t downbeat about it. Speaking to Phil Haigh he insisted that he enjoyed it once he was over his “post Crucible dark places”

Ronnie O’Sullivan reflects on ‘marvellous’ season after World Championship exit

Phil Haigh Wednesday 26 Apr 2023 9:02 pm

Ronnie O’Sullivan was not too downbeat after his Crucible exit (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan looked back on a ‘marvellous’ season despite his shock World Championship exit at the hands of Luca Brecel, saying he has largely been happy after something of a low last summer.

The Rocket lost the final seven frames of the match to Brecel as the Belgian Bullet prevailed 13-10 in an incredible contest at the Crucible.

It was an unlikely defeat for the world number one, but it has not ruined his season, which he has largely enjoyed, winning both the Champion of Champions and the Hong Kong Masters this campaign.

O’Sullivan admits that he was down for some time after winning his seventh world title last year, but once he had recovered from that low, he has had a good time.

I think it’s been marvellous. Lots of smiley faces,’ O’Sullivan said of his season. ‘It started off a bit miserable, I’ve got to be honest, I was on a bit of a comedown from the World Championships.

So I didn’t really feel like playing much. I knew why, so I just took some time off the practice table, played the tournaments, and I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve had a great season.

‘I judge my season on whether I was happy and I’ve been very happy.

May, June, July, August I just didn’t want to play, it was weird. I can only put that down to such a massive high. It might have been something else.

O’Sullivan was gracious in defeat to Brecel (Picture: Getty Images)

You go through periods like that, people fall in and out of love with what they’re doing. I just chose not to practice, took some time out and that was great.

I came back in January, put the time in and I’ve really enjoyed my practice and the tournaments I’ve played in.

Alright, I haven’t won as much but well-being, happiness, they’re the most important things. Snooker, that’s a bonus. If it goes great, I’ll take that. If it don’t go so great, alright. There’s always another tournament.’

Jason Francis, Ronnie’s manager, speaking to Phil Haigh expressed a completely different perception about the situation

Ronnie O’Sullivan ‘incredibly disappointed’ with early World Championship exit, believes manager

Phil Haigh Wednesday 3 May 2023 5:36 pm

Ronnie O’Sullivan suffered a shock quarter-final exit from the World Championship this year (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan was left ‘gutted’ by his quarter-final exit from the World Snooker Championship this year, believes his manager Jason Francis.

The Rocket was beaten by eventual champion Luca Brecel in the last eight, after downing Pang Junxu and Hossein Vafaei in his opening two contests.

The defending champion was looking good after battering Vafaei 13-2 and then leading the Belgian 10-6, but seven frames on the spin from the Bullet saw him shoot into the semis and oust the world number one 13-10.

O’Sullivan took the loss very graciously, heaping praise on the performance of Brecel and saying he has enjoyed a ‘marvellous’ season, but his manager says there was certainly a lot of disappointment over the defeat.

‘I think he was gutted,’ Francis told the Talking Snooker podcast. ‘I think that one thing I don’t have to tell you is he knew he was in a winning position.

But that takes nothing away from the way Luca played, I’ve never see anyone play like that against Ronnie here.

This place, Sheffield, it either makes you or it breaks you and I think the people who come through and can handle it, they become real champions.

People say it defines their career, if they’re successful here, but it can also define the way they play in the future, because there’s no harder place to play.

So I think he came up against someone who played unbelievably well, but I also think that he’s incredibly disappointed, because if you look from the outside there was an opportunity there this year.’

Francis has been working with O’Sullivan for the last decade, and explained that a huge part of his job is trying to keep people from distracting the Rocket when he should be focussing on snooker.

My role with Ronnie is filtering chaos and trying to put out fires before they come,’ he explained. ‘One of Ronnie’s faults is his generosity, so you can turn up at a tournament, it will start off being me and him but very soon the circus is in town.

Someone who’s a friend of Ronnie or wants to come and see Ronnie…what Ronnie probably should say is: “Look, I’m here to win the World Championship, I’ll see you in a couple of weeks for a dinner.” But he’s so generous, they want to come and see him, and suddenly we end up with an entourage.

Part of my job over the last 10 years has been managing that, but also be respectful that ultimately he’s the player, he has to decide

I don’t want anything I say to ever thought to have cost him a match. There’s nothing that I can do to make him win a tournament or lose a tournament. It’s the player and the table, but my job is to try and bring some stability, maintain relationships with people and be professional. I think that’s why it’s worked with Ronnie for as long as it has.’

The reasons Jasons put forward are quite interesting. Some players, like Luca f.i., seem to be able to switch in and out of their “zone” very easily and naturally, but I know that this is not the case for Ronnie.

That said … yes, this season has been poor but it’s been the case for many top players and it would be interesting to fully understand why. Ronnie ends the season still ranked number one and he’s 14th on the one year list as it stands today, despite missing some events because of the elbow injury. Judd Trump is 13th on it with only 7000 points more than Ronnie despite not missing any event. John Higgins (23d), Mark Williams (19th) and, very surprisingly, Neil Robertson (22d) are out of the top 16 on that list. It’s been a very bizarre season indeed and the only explanation I can think of is the shambolic structure of last season’s calendar with big gaps alternating with some very intense playing periods.

World Snooker Tour News – 4 May 2023

This was announced yesterday by WST

Tour Survivors Extended To Up To 68

WST announce that for this season only, up to 68 players will qualify for the 2023/24 season based on the two-year world rankings after the 2023 Cazoo World Championship rather than the usual 64.

This step will see all players on the two-year world rankings up to Mark Davis (but no lower than him in the world rankings), set to finish the season in 68th position, qualify for a further year on the World Snooker Tour, retaining all of the points that they had accrued over the past two years.

The move will also result in some changes to the players re-qualifying as the top players on the one-year list with Xu Si and Mark Joyce now qualifying for a full tour card. The one-year list will now be made up of Daniel Wells, Jimmy White, Ian Burns and Hammad Miah, the four highest ranked players on the one-year list who haven’t qualified for the tour through other means, and these four players will receive two-year tour cards.

The decision to extend tour numbers up to 68 players was taken by WST due to highly unusual circumstances where some players who remain on tour at the end of the season are currently suspended pending the outcome of an independent tribunal.

WST is not involved in these cases, neither is it a party to the tribunal and has no influence upon it.

The decision to extend numbers was taken by WST so that no player might suffer missing out on a Tour Card irrespective of any outcome in those disciplinary proceedings and to maximise playing opportunities on the World Snooker Tour. This extension will apply to this season only.

This decision may not be to everyone’s liking but, personally, I prefer this to the addition of some random wildcard players, or arbitrary picking four amateurs amongst those who were not already eligible via the agreed routes.

It also means that should some of the currently suspended players be found not guilty or receive a very short ban, the tour might count more than 128 players. I don’t want to enter into speculations but from what transpired today on social media, that scenario looks quite unlikely.