Monday, 19 December 2011

O'Sullivan clings on to top 16 place, for now...

Ronnie O'Sullivan held on to his top 16 status by the skin of his teeth today - but the tide isn't out quite yet.

Mark Davis went within just one frame of claiming a place in the elite for the first time in his career, and doing so would also have knocked the three-time world champion out.

With the Rocket not entering the PTC 11 or 12 tournaments, the Bexhill Battler needed a trip to the semi-final here to nick his place but, could only muster the last eight before losing agonisingly 4-3 to Anthony Hamilton.

Picture by Monique Limbos
The dramatic match wasn't chosen for today's stream but after leading the match 3-2, you couldn't blame Davis for feeling the pressure.

This would have been his biggest career achievement but, unlike in other big matches, his opponent was under relatively little pressure. Maybe this made the difference.

Not only was it a chance for Mark to put himself up alongside the game's top stars for the first time but he had to do it while everyone was watching and the national media were at the ready to report on the fall of one of the game's greats.

Had he secured the win, you can guarantee it would have been splashed across tomorrow's newspapers but, as it works out, Ronnie earned a reprieve.

He's not totally out of the woods though, of course.

If Ricky Walden converts his passage to the last 16 of PTC12 into silverware when the competition is played to a conclusion in Munich next month, the result will be just as damaging.

The reality of losing top 16 status at the next seedings cut-off for Ronnie is that he will be forced to qualify for the Welsh, China and World Opens.

This would mean one of the sport's greats going back to school, made to tough it out back in the cubicles. That would be quite a comedown who has always enjoyed life in the bright lights of the sport.

To the snooker world, this is a big deal.

O'Sullivan has been among the game's elite for 18 years and is part of the furniture there now. He plays the game so beautifully and is the hero of so many fans that his omission would be saddening.

Picture by Monique Limbos
Ironically, I'm not sure Ronnie would be so disappointed.

He's always been a player focused on winning trophies. Whether his ranking reads as 16th or 17th, probably makes little difference to him.

He would view both as mediocrity; a band he has tried desperately to avoid throughout his career.

Ronnie is a perfectionist and the fact that he now sits away from the top order frustrates him.

This is so much so that dropping out of the top 16 would be of little interest to him.

He already takes a dim view of the current state of his game. Dropping further down the pecking ordering would do little but magnify that opinion.

The only difference he would practically notice is having to win one qualifying match to make the TV venues. Unlike a lot of other players, this doesn't greatly diminish his hopes of winning more trophies.

If he turns up in the right frame of mind and playing somewhere near his best, he's capable of winning any tournament whether he has to start out from the last 32 stage or from the qualifying circuit.

What I did find interesting about his near-miss today is that despite his vast following, he has many haters too.

His blase attitude doesn't go down well with everyone and when the prospect of him falling out of the top 16 drew closer, the O'Sullivan bashers were out in force.

That won't bother Ronnie even an ounce. In fact, he probably revels in it.

The difference with Ronnie to other players is that criticism only makes him stronger. He's quite unique in that fact that he needs greater motivation to perform than just winning matches alone.

Sticking one up his critics or coming back from the qualifying rounds might just be what he needs to fire him up.


  1. The haters were out in force. Yes It's called envy from the mediocre towards an all time great in the game. As Ronnie probably would put it "Fuck them !".
    He's got nothing to prove to anyone except himself maybe and has kept the sport on the radars for all those years when it was going down the drain.
    That said Mark Davis achievements over the last two years have been awesome and all credits to him. But that wasn't the point.
    I would have had no problem in people rooting for Mark, but I have one with people reveling in the prospect of Ronnie's demise.

  2. Personally, I think that Ronnie must have lost more final frame deciders than any other player on the professional tour. Would love to know the stats if anyone has them. I think that indicates that despite his temperament, wherever you meet him, he is very hard to beat.
    Equally, he sets such high standards for himself...

  3. Yes Monique, the haters were out, and they were among people you class as friends, over at the Island.

    The truth is Ronnie's rank is top 5, but his lack of involvement 2010 and the PTC events have warped the true placement.

  4. @Anonymous. You should indeed get the stats because they would prove you completely wrong, although he's lost quite a few over the last couple of seasons indeed.

  5. "Yes Monique, the haters were out, and they were among people you class as friends, over at the Island."

    Get fucked you tosser