Pro Snooker 2021: What is Going On with the Rocket Ronnie O’Sullivan?
Ronnie O’Sullivan received a hammering in the quarter-finals of the Champion of Champions to fellow class of 92 rival John Higgins.
Higgins, 46, demolished the Rocket with breaks of 127, 94, 92, 86 and a 63 to surge into the semi-finals 6 – 1 with another juicy encounter with the 21-year-old Tiger Yan Bingtao, who has scalped the Wizard already this year in the final of The Masters.
But…There is worry in the community as people wonder, is the 45-year-old O’Sullivan going to regain form and win again?
In his mainstream interview with ITV4, he told Rob Walker that Higgins was too good for him.
He added though, that if Higgins was to win titles as well, he needs to be able to compete with the likes of Bingtao, who is young and hungry.
It’s hard to type this, but Ronnie O’Sullivan — one of the greatest snooker players of all time, if not the greatest — doesn’t look like his former self right now. At all. Not like the player that’s racked up six world championships. Not like the player that’s won a record amount of Triple Crowns. Not like the player that’s struck fear into his opponents down the years.
O’Sullivan is playing alongside the world’s best at the Champion of Champions in The University of Bolton Stadium this week. His odds at winning at betting sites like MyBookie aren’t as infallible as in years past. Heck, his own competitors are wondering what’s gotten into O’Sullivan as of late.
Ronnie O’Sullivan is considered the G.O.A.T. by many snooker fans. However, he hasn’t won an event since August 2020.
And Judd Trump let rip recently…
In the mainstream media, Trump said: “I just think he’s lost a little of the belief. When you don’t win you don’t have the same belief, people aren’t scared to beat you.”
Now, this might be some kind of mind games on the part of Trump, who is also competing at the Champion of Champions and will play Kyren Wilson in the semi-finals. Still, could there be some truth to Trump’s words?
O’Sullivan hasn’t won a title since August 2020 and lost in five finals…
The jab at O’Sullivan comes because of the drought he’s currently in the midst of. Since winning his sixth world title in August 2020, the 46-year-old Englishman hasn’t picked up another piece of silverware. That 15-month winless drought includes five losses in the finals last season too — one of which came at the expense of Trump at the Northern Ireland Open. Speaking of that, Trump has won five different titles in that same span.
Trump didn’t stop there, though. He mentioned the potential GOAT’s struggles are against stiffer competition, deeper into events. Trump’s exact words were: “he’s still getting to finals, he’s always going to breeze through the first few games because he’s so good. But when he comes up against a top-16 player, there’s just not that gulf in class anymore, I don’t think.”
So not only does The Rocket lack belief, he’s just not clutch anymore, according to Trump. That’s about as stinging words you can lay on anyone at this level in the sport. But then again, O’Sullivan seems unphased.
O’Sullivan does take criticism in his stride though…
When told about the comment, O’Sullivan chuckled, before quipping, “yeah maybe, maybe I’m lacking belief. Yeah, I dunno, maybe he’s right, who knows?” The sarcasm might be tough to pick up in direct quotations, but believe us, The Rocket was dripping with it.
Bolton is another chance to see whether Trumps’ words hold merit or if it’s just good-ol-fashioned trash talk. Trump already took care of business versus David Lilley and Ryan Day on the first day, O’Sullivan can “exorcise” the demons versus Stuart Bingham on November 18.
The top prize of £150,000 is at stake at the Champion of Champions
Judd Trump hasn’t minced words about Ronnie O’Sullivan ahead of the Champion of Champions.Trump says that O’Sullivan has lost his fear factor to opponents.
If it is just Trump trying to get into O’Sullivan’s head, it would make sense given he’s never won this event ever. Trump has previously lost the final in this event in 2014 and 2019, whereas The Rocket is a three-time winner at the Champion of Champions.
As for what we personally think, our gut tells us O’Sullivan will be just fine. Streaks — both good and bad — are part of snooker, just like any other sport or game. Ever heard of a little thing called variance? It’s a measure of how far a set of numbers are spread out from their average. And in snooker, the variance is high with so many different possible outcomes. Right now, O’Sullivan is just amidst a really unlucky, high-variant streak in our opinion.
Why is our confidence in O’Sullivan in check? Well, you don’t just lose his impeccable skill set overnight. There’s muscle memory, which is hard-wired into O’Sullivan’s brain at this point after dedicating much of his life to the sport. There’s his uncanny ability for fast breaks. And, of course, he’s ambidextrous, which gives him the flexibility to make almost any shot.
O’Sullivan will break out of his slump, whether that’s at the Champion of Champions or elsewhere. You don’t doubt greatness over the long run and O’Sullivan is the definition of greatness in snooker.
Ironically, O’Sullivan breezed through his first match against an out-of-form Stuart Bingham 4 – 2.
The Champion of Champions runs until Sunday and is on ITV4 @6:45 and @12:45 except Friday and Saturday when it’s just on at 6:45 in the evening.