Ronnie O’Sullivan’s decision to defend his World Championship title is good news for snooker and, I suspect, good news for him.
O’Sullivan admitted to being bored during his sabbatical from tournament play. Competing in major events creates a buzz difficult to replicate in ordinary life or exhibitions.

A lucrative personal sponsorship deal with a vodka company would also have helped him make up his mind.
Whether O’Sullivan is the best player in the game is a point for argument but that he is the biggest draw is not.
This is why the media flocked to his press conference today. World Snooker say he is yet to formally enter the World Championship but he has until Thursday to do so.
For the event to have gone ahead without its defending champion would have been a blow. O’Sullivan has guaranteed media interest in the Crucible as the countdown to snooker's version of the greatest show on earth begins.
O’Sullivan’s decision is good news too for Judd Trump. As probable no.1 seed in O’Sullivan’s absence he would have been walking out to play on the first day with all the pressure that comes with that. Plus, most of the pre-event media attention would have been on him. Now it will all be on O’Sullivan.
I’m sure many players were hoping Ronnie would stay away. As he proved last year, he is still a potent force when his mind is finely tuned towards snooker.
On the face of it, it seems unlikely that he can come back with barely any match snooker all year and defend his world title but O’Sullivan’s whole life has revolved around the unlikely.
For a long time he has seemed to feel that not playing snooker was the answer to his problems but time away has convinced him that he does indeed love the game and the challenges it presents.

Snooker has survived without him. Ticket sales and TV viewing figures have gone up this season.
But O’Sullivan is a fascinating figure whose presence in tournaments adds to the general intrigue. Nobody, sometimes not even Ronnie himself, knows what he is going to do next.
It appears come April 20th he is going to play snooker again. The king across the water is coming home.
If he wins a fifth world title it will surely be his greatest ever triumph.


Anonymous said...

Nice balanced overview as ever

Anonymous said...

Does the 16th ranked player therefore lose his place?

Anonymous said...

i hope he flops

cares only about himself imo

The Fish said...

Without doubt the most naturaly gifted player ever.Ticket sales and viewing figures are up because there are more tournaments and more exposure of the game to a wider audience.People want to see the main man,and without doubt Ronnie is most certainly that.Surely he couldnt win it after taking several months off,could he?

Anonymous said...

Yes, the 16th ranked player will have to qualify as per McCulloch in 2006.

Anonymous said...

With all other comments on Twitter it's so nice to read a straight forward report without any bias either way. congrats D H
I for one am really glad on.this news. The game has suffered somewhat this last year.

Alan C said...

@4:25 The 16th ranked player never had a place.

The Blog said...

It's good for the sport. Had he not returned it would feel a bit weird like a piece of a jigsaw missing.

Daniel said...

annon 4.25

Yes. Because he is World Champion and automatically seeded #2 in every tournament.

This similar 'problem' occurred when Shaun Murphy won the 2005 World Champs. Even though he World Champion he was still ranked outside the top 16, thus meaning #16 Ian McCulloch had to qualify for all events the following season.

Daniel said...

Although having said that, number 16 will probably qualify anyway because of the situation with Stephen Lee.

Anonymous said...

Conveniently for him, both Selby and Trump are likely to be in the other half of the draw. It would be the icing on the cake for him if Higgins ended up there too.

Anonymous said...

Ticket sales & viewing figures are up because thanks to Eurosport, we can pick and choose which tournaments and tables to watch from 19 tournaments, rather than just the BBC sponsored tournaments.

Anonymous said...

Best news I'm going to hear today.
Would have been like 'The Dukes of Hazzard' without Daisy Duke.
Go on Ronza !

Marc Owen-Banks said...

The Rockets disillusionment of the sport has a knack of being turned on and off at just the right time.When all the travelling and playing for small prize-money is required he seems to become bored with the sport, when the Worlds come around he suddenly finds he is interested once again.

He's not even officially entered as of today, the deadline for that is this Thursday

What's his motivation?

Call me pessimistic, but I find it a strange coincidence. What state would the sport be in if the top 16 layers all found travelling and playing in emerging countries boring but all decided they liked playing in only the biggest of events

Fair play to O'Sullivan that he retains the ability to switch world class form on and off to compete in this manner, but it is neither fair to the rest of the WPBSA players nor the fans.

On an even more pessimistic note, what would the tickets sales be like with and without O'Sullivan in the earlier rounds of the finals in Sheffield, it would not be amiss for a "under-the-baize" payment to ensure his participation, but of course that wouldn't be needed. A legitimate sponsorship deal would certainly be enough to make a couple of weeks more than worthwhile, whist Barry Hearn will be rubbing his hands that the Golden Boy will be there to sell tickets.

Betting Odds

For punters it also leaves a bit of a sour taste too. Ante Post bets struck already will have been affected by the "Rockets Return!" He himself has never been much bigger than 8/1 ante post for the title.Today on the day of his announcement he is still available from 13/2 to 8/1. Judd Trump however has been 4's and 5's in the Antepost market, today those bets look pretty bad value. Mark Selby too, previously 5/1, 11/2,not readily available at 7/1.

These are not huge drifts it is granted, but they are all pushed out a half point or more and punters have been done over by the man who has walked away from tournaments in the past when things have not gone his way.


There is no question of his talent, 4 times world champion, nearly 700 competitive centuries, 11 maximums including an incredible 5 minute 20 second effort, Ronnie O'Sullivan is making a mockery of a sport that owes him nothing and he owes a great deal and needs to decide, regardless of his personal issues, if he wants to be a part of it or not. Someone will now not get automatic qualification that they otherwise would have done, even with the Stephen Lee situation and those around the 16, 17 mark, whilst be able to improve their positions to ensure a place, need to know where they stand all season, not just when O'Sullivan decides he wants to be a part of the Matchroom show

No player is bigger than the game itself

Ronnie O'Sullivan needs reminding of this and he can find it by looking at ticket sales and TV viewing figures whilst he has been out of the game. THEY HAVE GONE UP this season as mentioned. It makes no difference to the paying public after all Ronnie! We love snooker with or without you, although there is a growing feeling without is just fine

Anonymous said...


Stephen Lee wont be in the top 16 he is currently 17th

Anonymous said...

If that photo was taken today he looks very relaxed & healthy.

Anonymous said...

This is great news,all the Ronnie haters can whistle,he is the most talented player ever and he wont be around for ever,so to see him this year is great.I hope he wins.Whatever,the event is greatly improved for his presence.Come on ,Ronnie!!


Hi David. First of all, I would like to say, that I am absolutely delighted, that Ronnie O'Sullivan, will defend his world title. He had issues in his personal life. I hope he is ok now. I would like to congratulate him, on his engagement, to be married, to acctress, Laila Rouass. I hope all that goes well for him.

Judd Trump, is in a different half of the 2013 Crucible draw, to O'Sullivan. What a great, possible final, that would be. A lot of snooker to be played before then, so let's not get ahead of ourselves.

I just think, that it is fantastic, that he will be back.

So, to today's play. A great day's play, in my wiew.

Murphy did well, to beat Gould, 5-4.

Mark Allen played great, to beat Ryan Day, 5-2.

Judd Trump played great, to beat Mark Joyce, 5-0.

Graeme Dott did great, in beating Jamie cope, 5-2.

Neil Robertson played great, to beat Dominic Dale, 5-2. Dale, unlucky to damage his cue tip, during that match, aswell.

Matthew Stevens did well, to beat David Gilbert, 5-4.

Ian Burns played well, to beat Saleh Mohammadi, 5-1.

Zhao Xintont, at 15 years of age, did superb, to beat Andrew Higginson, 5-1.

I can't wait, for more, tomorrow.

To go off subject, slightly. I would like to put the following question to you.

Am I correct, David, that tomorrow, 27-2-2013, is the 41st anniversary, to the day, since Alex Higgins, won his first world title. I know the year was 1972. was the date, 27-2-1972? I think it was.

Anonymous said...

Those for and against Ronnie's return will all be able to say that they were lucky to have been around to watch the finest player ever. He won't be around forever. Let's all respect his decision to resume his career and hope he treats us all to more sublime snooker.
Welcome back Ronnie.


Hi David. To follow on from my previous post, A leaking roof stopped play, in today's match, between Mark Allen an Ryan Day, when water was leaking onto the table. This, very odd, though it may seem, is not the first time, that something like this has stopped play, at a professional snooker match.

In the 1973 World Championship, at the Deansgate, City Exhibition Hall, in Manchester, the match between Fred Davis, and, Alex Higgins, was stopped when rain, started to come through the roof, I don't remember if it ended op on the table, that time, though.

They say things come in three's. Hopefully, this will not happen again, in professional snooker, or, indeed, a snooker match, of any description, for that matter.


Hi David. To follow on from my post about rain stopping play, at the 1973 World Championship, I think, one of the news paper's had a photograph, of Fred Davis, and Alex Higgins, underneeth an umberella.

Anonymous said...

how much is the oval vodka sponsorship and did jimmy white get a sponsorship deal also??

Anonymous said...

Shut up you low life

Anonymous said...

A bit of jealousy I can smell there !!

Anonymous said...

Dave can you clarify the 16th ranked player situation - I am worried about Graeme Dott!

JIMO96 said...

Yet more totally over the top praise and attention for Mr O'Sullivan. Quite staggering, and completely out of proportion to the complete disrespect he shows for the sport, and all involved.

If you're going to call a press conference, at least LOOK like you're remotely excited about it yourself, Ronnie! The whole "can't be bothered" schtick he exudes....such a role model(!)

On the other hand, even Ronnie-haters like me can appreciate that the Worlds this year will have the strongest line up possible as a result of yesterday. I'm also secretly hoping that a major new World Championship sponsor will be announced in the coming week that is NOT a bookie.

On another note, Jamie O'Reilly....what are you all about? Are you 10 years old? (If you are, forgive me!). I do SO look forward to your daily "summaries". I nearly choked on my muesli when you used the word "superb" to describe a players performance (as opposed to "well" or "great". Your randomly placed commas make me chuckle as well!

To quote Jamie: "I can not, wait for more, tomorrow."

Anonymous said...

Ticket sales have not gone up this season. Monique Limbos, your good dear friend, can attest to that. It's been a smokescreen by WSA.

Anonymous said...

The most important thing is if this helps bring in a new long term sponsor for the Worlds - and it has got to be good for that!

8:42 is right - he's been around for so long that he is part of the furniture, but Ronnie won't be around forever - at most probably another 4 or 5 appearances at the crucible before he retires - hopefully he can be close to his mesmerising best for all of them...

Anonymous said...

@804 It's been clarified already: the defending champion is the top seed even if he's outside of the top 16; as a result everyone else drops down a place, and the 16th ranked player has to qualify. Dott would have to somehow drop 3000 points more than the five players below him in the provs, which would be unlikely to happen even if he doesn't win another match all season. At the moment the three most vulnerable players are Mark Davis, Matthew Stevens and Ali Carter: Davis is currently in 16th place, but could leapfrog Stevens at the PTC finals which Stevens hasn't qualified for; if Carter withdraws from the PTC and the China Open too he would most likely be the player who has to qualify. I'm kind of hoping Stevens and Carter hang in there since I think they are better value at the Crucible.

Anonymous said...

Just to refer back to the earlier post about matches being delayed by rain, it also happened at the World Under 21 Championship in 2004.

So maybe the three have already happened.

The Blog said...

My doctor says I suffer with terrible episodes of Deja Vu:

"O'Sullivan says he will give his comeback "100%" but says if he is unable to continue to do so then he will retire again."


Anonymous said...

810, thank you, another great post, in my view.

Anonymous said...

Thank you 11.33, that was clear and succinct!

Anonymous said...

Re 11.33 - aren't the World Championship seedings decided after this week?

Anonymous said...

According to London Times today there is still no deal in place to sponsor the World Championship.

Maybe its not worth as much as BH thinks?

Anonymous said...

Following my comment at 3.56 - actually World Snooker's site says it's after the China Open so 11.33 was spot on.

I read somewhere else that this week was the cut-off point, but it seems not.

Anonymous said...

time for a new topic - Haikou day 3...

Alin said...

this news is very good for snooker

Anonymous said...

clive - I think it was a partial miscue.

foulds - played a complete mishit

clive, its either a miscue or its not.


tony said...

Surely, as in other sports, players (R O'S) should be allowed to choose which tourny's they wish to play in. Golfers pick and choose when they want to play.