After defeating Ding Junhui in the 2020 Snooker World Championships, Ronnie O'Sullivan delivered a damning assessment of snooker. He boldly attacked the standard of young snooker players, stating 'saying he would have to 'lose an arm and a leg" to fall out of the top 50, such is the state of the game.' Fans of the game, fellow players and ex-professionals immediately reacted to his comments, some criticising his views and others empathising. Is what Ronnie O'Sullivan saying correct, or does he have an ambassadorial responsibility to the game?
Ronnie stated: 'Most would probably do well as half-decent amateurs, but not even that. They are so bad. A lot of them, you have got to lose an arm and leg to fall outside of the top 50. That's why we are still hovering around. How poor it is down that end. It is that bad.' The interviewer attempted to quell the comments, stating that the standard was surely not as bleak as Ronnie's assessment. O'Sullivan's response... 'Oh it is.'
Ronnie O'Sullivan received criticism from senior members of the sport, with iconic snooker player Ken Doherty branding the comments 'derogatory'. All of those players look up to Ronnie and he has a duty to them as an ambassador to the game. He is a hero to all those players on the tour. I don't know whether they will still think he is a character or look up to him."
There is a modicum of truth to Ronnie's comments however, with snooker's Class of 92 continuously dominating the headlines. Even this years tournament was dominated by O'Sullivan, Higgins and Williams. Newer players are undoubtedly struggling in the latter stages of the big tournaments. However, this is as much a reflection on O'Sullivan's prodigious talent, as it is a damning reflection on snooker's youth. The experience of O'Sullivan and the more experienced heads of snooker allows them to handle the intense crucible pressure and puts them ahead of the pack.
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