Monday 23 April 2018

O'Sullivan: New events herald bright future

Ronnie O'Sullivan. Photo: Getty Images
Ronnie O'Sullivan. Photo: Getty Images

Ronnie O'Sullivan believes snooker chiefs are safeguarding the sport's future by embracing the quickfire results culture - and now he heads to Blackpool Tower looking to win £32,000 for an hour's work.

Three-time world champion O'Sullivan won the Power Snooker event at the Indigo2 in London in October, a tournament for which a host of new rules were introduced but the priority was speed.

Matches lasted 30 minutes, and were determined by aggregate points totals rather than by the number of frames won, but that event will seem almost pedestrian when compared to this weekend's Snooker Shoot-Out in Blackpool.

The 64-man tournament will be contested on a one-frame knock-out basis, with each frame limited to 10 minutes. Players will be given just 20 seconds to play a shot in the first five minutes, coming down to 15 seconds per shot until time is up.

To win the title, a player must win six 10-minute matches.

O'Sullivan has never been a slouch around the table, and it took him just five minutes and 20 seconds to make a 147 maximum break at the 1997 World Championship.

He relished the Power Snooker challenge, and now wants to have similar success at the Blackpool tournament.

"I think the culture of people has changed," O'Sullivan told Press Association Sport.

"Young kids in the 1960s were different to the young kids in 2011. People are more into quickfire action, music, a bit of atmosphere, and I think snooker has embraced that by having these events where they play music, where there's crowd participation, creating a bit more of a lively atmosphere.

"The purists don't want that to happen but sometimes you just have to go with the times, and I think that's the way of most sports."

The World Snooker event begins tomorrow evening and climaxes on Sunday.

"Tournaments like this gives a chance for different crowds to get involved," O'Sullivan said.

"You've got your 10-minute frames with music playing and it's quite like the darts."

As well as O'Sullivan, who faces a testing opener against Masters runner-up Marco Fu, the likes of John Higgins, Neil Robertson and Wembley champion Ding Junhui will be on show.

But many spectators will have an eye for the older gentleman, and Jimmy White, Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry will also take part.

O'Sullivan, 35, understands the appeal of the veterans.

"Jimmy White was my first hero when I first started playing, and Steve Davis became my hero because he was winning all the tournaments and I thought to myself that I want to be winning tournaments," he said.

"I got to the age of 11, 12 and I thought, 'I just want to be a winner'. Steve Davis became my role model and then Stephen Hendry came on the scene and I thought, 'He looks like a good role model', so I copied him.

"They were all good role models in a way, so if you're going to have one get a good one!

"I always admire Hendry, Davis and Jimmy White for their professionalism. They still love playing the game and I think that's something to admire."

Press Association

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