Snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan has warned he will quit snooker if he is restricted from playing in China; “If I can’t go and do what I need to do, which is play a lot in China, I won’t ever play again. So, we’re at a kind of crossroads now”
Last Updated: 22/11/23 8:36am
Ronnie O’Sullivan has warned he will quit snooker if he is restricted from playing in China.
Exhibition events in the Far East are becoming increasingly lucrative, but often clash with World Snooker Tour events. O’Sullivan and other UK-based players are contracted to play in WST tournaments and could face sanctions if they miss events to play overseas.
The seven-time world champion says the sport is at a “crossroads”.
O’Sullivan said in an interview with the BBC to promote his new documentary: “If I can’t go and do what I need to do, which is play a lot in China, I won’t ever play again. So, we’re at a kind of crossroads now.
“If that gets to the point where I’m not able to do that, I’m not allowed to do that, I probably won’t play. I’ll probably go and play Chinese 8-Ball because I still want to play snooker, I still want a cue in my hand.
“There’s just not enough here in the UK for me to justify the effort that I put in.
“If someone’s going to respect me and value me more, why would I not go there? It’s like being in an unhealthy relationship with someone, why would you be in that?
“I’d love to be able to just keep playing snooker for the next five, six, seven, eight years, but if I’m going to be forced into a situation where that’s not possible, then I’m not going to just accept whatever 132 players do, which is to go and play tournament after tournament, week in, week out.”
O’Sullivan has famously derided the standard on the WST in the past, suggesting he would need to lose a limb to drop down the rankings.
He still adopts that stance, claiming he is “revolted” by mediocrity.
“I don’t think it’s very hard to be a top-16 snooker player. I could probably get away with playing once a week for two or three hours a day,” O’Sullivan, 47, added.
“I find it hard to put myself in their shoes because I was in their shoes and I didn’t accept top 50 as OK.
“I’m not a great lover for mediocrity… I find it quite revolting in some ways, when I see people accepting that. That’s why I don’t hang around snooker people at venues because I just don’t like seeing it.
“I don’t think there’s enough good matches. I think there’s a lot of players that people don’t know, that don’t play the game in the right way.”
David Beckham was among the stars celebrating with O’Sullivan at the UK premiere of his new documentary.
Ronnie O’Sullivan: The Edge Of Everything tells the behind-the-scenes story of his quest to claim a record-equalling seventh World Snooker Championship and was produced by former England footballer Beckham’s Studio 99.
The UK premiere comes after defending champion O’Sullivan withdrew from snooker’s Champion of Champions event on the eve of his opening match in Bolton last week.
The seven-time world champion wrote on X, former known as Twitter, that he was feeling “drained and stressed” and wanted to look after his mental health and body.