A Rocket-less season of snooker?
Ronnie O’Sullivan has officially announced his withdrawal from the remaining 2012/2013 season. The chances to see the “Rocket” defending his fourth world title are diminishing considerably.
It is now a confirmed fact that O’Sullivan will miss the rest of the current season, the player invoking “personal issues” that keep him away from competing in ranking events.
World Snooker Ltd Chairman Barry Hearn said: “I have spoken to Ronnie and he has decided to withdraw from any events he has entered, and he will not be playing for the rest of this season. He has some personal issues which he needs to resolve and we wish him all the best for the future.“
This decision comes after the player nicknamed “The Rocket” pulled out of the recent International Championship from China’s Chengdu due to medical reasons, but most importantly it follows a series of decisions to “take a break from snooker”, clearly stated by the Essex man.
Suggesting that he might retire from snooker during the 2012 World Championship, before announcing he’s here to say at the awards ceremony, followed by a need for a “six-month break” at the press conference that took place after that – Ronnie has proved to know how to keep his fans on tenterhooks.
Then, at the start of a brand new season the same O’Sullivan refused to sign the players’ contract calling it “too onerous”, thus costing him appearances in the first ranking events and the Premier League, where, ironically enough, he is defending champion, not to mention a genuine record-holder after winning the competition no less than ten times.
However, his fans were delighted when, later on, their hero decided to officially enrol in the new season and were looking forward to seeing him play.
The roller coaster hit its apogee when he pulled out of the International Championship, the most important ranking event staged in China, leaving his Asian fans gutted.
Suffering from glandular fever, a condition that has had a serious impact on his physical as well as mental state over the years, Ronnie still managed to break any patterns and proved on many occasions that he’s up for the job, ruling over the green baize almost effortlessly and having the snooker balls under his command.
His personal demons have been carefully attended by sports psychologist Dr Steve Peters for quite some time now, O’Sullivan making the decision of trying his best to deal with his personal problems a well-known fact and acknowledging Peter’s help on various occasions.
However, despite efforts to overcome personal dramas and proving he’s matured in more than one way, when he chose not to sign the players’ contract rather than doing it and then withdrawing from one tournament after another as he did so many times in the past, things don’t seem so great on “Rocket’s land”.
And although his break from the rest of the busy snooker season is not the same as retiring from the sport that he masters so well, one can’t help wondering what’s next.
Confronted with the horrifying question of whether Ronnie’s prolonged break means him not wanting to perform as a professional player any more, manager Django Fung said for the BBC: “Yes. Let’s hope not. You never know. Ronnie’s an emotional player.”
Worrying words for the “Rocket’s” fans, but at the same time dramatically suited for such a distinctive character of the sport.
Often compared to the late Alex Higgins, not just for his way of playing the game, but also for the way he’s behaving in certain situations, Ronnie O’Sullivan has always been considered the black sheep of this colourful cue sport, a status that has brought him probably more admirers than any other active player on the Main Tour.
Winning by-the-book tournaments over tournaments, breaking record after record, entertaining the crowd with his crazy shots, but also disappointing his fans on various occasions and getting angry a lot of people for being too outspoken in situations that required diplomacy, O’Sullivan is without doubt one of the greatest players that modern snooker has and the ambassador that, some times without even trying, has creating a legacy for the sport.
His withdrawal from the 2012/2013 season will most definitely have a hugely negative impact of how the sport is seen by the fans, but at the same time it’s worth mentioning it will also give them an alternative to why this sport is “bigger than any player”, as Barry Hearn started at the beginning of the year’s World Championship.
This is a crucial moment in snooker’s history and a turn-point in O’Sullivan’s career as a professional player, but leaving the dramatic touch of the story aside, it’s not a secret the fact that things change and the Englishman is well-known for revising his thoughts after some time.
So in the end, yes, this may well be his swan song, but it may very well mean just some time off, away from all the cue action, a time to reflect, to change some things in his life, to resolve his problems, in order to return stronger than ever.
Only time will tell …