Ronnie O’Sullivan claims he’d rather the World Snooker Championship didn’t go ahead this year, while he also suggests it is not held at the Crucible if it is played behind closed doors.
As ever, the Rocket had his tongue somewhere near his cheek during an Instagram Live with Stephen Hendry on Thursday afternoon, but recommended playing the World Championship at Crondon Park in Essex rather than the famous Sheffield venue.
The World Championship has been rescheduled to start on 31 July, although it has not been confirmed whether it will be played behind closed doors, with a limited crowd or with a full audience in South Yorkshire – while the possibility remains that it could not go ahead at all.
The 44-year-old is not convinced about those options, but says he would rather see it played at the former home of the Championship League near Stock in Essex if there were no fans allowed in.
‘I hope it don’t go ahead, I want a longer break,’ said O’Sullivan.
‘It’ll be mental [with no fans]. To play in, it’s going to feel very bizarre. When they go to the one table set-up, you go down sometimes and see the table-fitters sometimes and it’s empty. It’s going to be like that, crazy.
‘Maybe they’d be better at playing somewhere like Crondon Park where the venue doesn’t lend itself to the crowd. What’s the point of having 900 empty seats? It’s going to look stupid. You might as well have a little intimate venue. Have 10 people in, spread them about and charge them 20 grand a ticket.
‘It’s not going to be a punters thing, it’s just a viewing thing on TV, so I don’t get why they’re going to the Crucible. Why bother?’
WST have booked the Crucible with the hope that an audience is allowed by 31 July, whether the full house or limited numbers, so there is a reason they are still heading to Sheffield.
A decision will be made closer to the time based on government guidelines.
O’Sullivan has triumphed at the Crucible five times but not since 2013 and admits that the 17-day epic just does not suit his game, his attitude or personality.
‘I think Sheffield is one of them that once you get on a roll, getting results then one year runs into the next,’ said Ronnie.
‘I had that period of three or four years where it was alright but you get to the point where it’s a bit of a mind thing.
‘I’ve had six years where I don’t think I’ve been beyond the quarter-finals. I might have had one quarter-final in six years. It’s a strange place, it’s either the best or it’s the worst.
’17 days, I was never meant to sustain it for, I have to really work hard to do that.
‘With me, I’m such an emotional player and person, to try and hold it down for 17 days, I’m beaten before I go there sometimes, it’s just not a great tournament for me. It’s like asking Usain Bolt to run the marathon. It’s just not suited to his genes or personality.’
Hendry believes the Rocket has at least one more World Championship title in him, but Ronnie is not convinced.
‘You know what, I can’t be arsed,’ he said. ‘I’d rather get pumped in the first round than get beat in the final. That’s my mindset.
‘I got beat in 2014 [final] and thought I’d rather have got beat first round. I just can’t be bothered. It’s 17 days, it’s great if you win it, but if you don’t…
‘I’m just not that hungry for it anymore. I love playing, love competing, I enjoy the lifestyle, bit of fun. As for going to the well, nah.’
However, there is always a tease with O’Sullivan and he still suggests he might knuckle down and give the Crucible another proper crack.
‘Listen, I might, if I get my head down and play a lot of tournaments, then there’s enough base training and enough matches…’
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