Coming into the final session with a 15-10 lead, Ronnie O’Sullivan required just three more frames for victory and wasted little time in extending his lead further by taking the opening frame in two scoring visits. He was back in again in the next frame, but a missed black on just nine allowed Carter to pull one back and reduce the deficit to 16-11.
Back came O’Sullivan again, taking the next frame with a top break of 46, before he avoided the need for a mid-session interval this evening by completing victory in frame 29.
His fourth world title and his 24th ranking event triumph of all, it is always hard to compare successes to each other, but having defeated three world champions en route to the final, becoming the oldest player since Ray Reardon in 1978 to have taken snooker’s top prize, this has to rank as one of his finest triumphs.
It has been a tough few years for O’Sullivan, particularly last year during which he lost a string of opening round matches which left his top 16 status in jeopardy throughout this season. This year however he has performed strongly from the off, winning the first PTC event of the season before later adding a second PTC and the German Masters crown. Most notably, his long game has consistently looked as strong as it has at any point during the past decade
It is a shame that following this triumph, perhaps the main topic of debate will be not his victory, but his future in the sport following his suggestion after the semi-finals that he might retire from the sport following this tournament. We can only speculate as to what Ronnie will do, though somehow I do not believe that this will be the last time we see him in action at this venue.
Following the trophy presentation, Ronnie carried out a long press conference, selected highlights are as follows:
“I just want to congratulate Ali on a brilliant tournament, he hasn’t had the best of seasons, but he’s come good in the big one again. He played fantastic, he beat some brilliant players this week, he beat Judd the favourite, Maguire in the semis, to be beat them two players is massive so I’ve got to say a massive well done to Ali for a brilliant World Championship really.”
“I just think I played with a bit more fluency [during this tournament]. I tried to stay patient, I think I only really kinda lost it a little bit once during the whole tournament where I thought that maybe I’m not up to scratch, but I quickly turned that session around and it was just trying to stay in control of your emotions. Not to get too carried away and not get too down, to try and keep things in perspective and try to see it for what it was and try to make sure I wasn’t being critical of myself if things didn’t go well.”
“The next time I get to the table, just to play the best shot that I can possibly play and just give it the best all the way through and that’s what I’ve done, but it’s hard to do that for 17 days! It’s just an absolute marathon and a slog and to do it at this age in my career as well at 36. I never doubted myself that I could win a tournament but to win another world title I didn’t know whether I was ever going to do that, so to actually do it is a fantastic feeling so I’m over the moon really.”
On how special it was for his son to be there…
“It’s the best, the best, the best. I didn’t ever think I would get that opportunity to share those moments with him, it was so nice to have him here. He loves snooker, to have him here, he loves watching the snooker, he loved it at Ally Pally, so to have him here watching , I got a little emotional even before the match was over because I just thought that it was only me and him here.”
“It just felt like me and him in that whole arena, it didn’t feel like I had people watching, that I had anyone there, I just felt this massive buzz and connection between me and him. It’s just the best feeling I have ever had in my life. The best feeling I have ever had in my life was when he came to Ally Pally, this is up there with it, just to have your close ones with you when you are doing something, achieving something which to most people is a fantastic achievement, to be world champion. So very special.”
Ronnie was also asked whether we can now put the retirement talk to bed and went into a very interesting five minute monologue as to his views on the schedule at present…
“No, not really. I’ve had a long time to think about everything I’ve done, it’s not a knee-jerk reaction, I’m not saying that I have retired but I am saying that my family have become the most important thing in my life. Snooker, I work as hard as anyone and I am prepared to work as hard as anyone, but I just want to be treated fairly and I think that the top players need to be treated fairly.”
“That is up to the governing body to treat the players right and say that we don’t expect players to be able to travel to 28 tournaments a year, but either come up with a money list and make it fair rather than forcing, not forcing players but if players don’t play in these minor events, you know you are going to have to drop out of the top 16, to qualify for tournaments and I think there is a better way of doing it.”
“Listen, even if there were no ranking points for PTC events, I would still go to some of them so all that business that I’m not prepared to go them because I’m playing in a cubicle, it’s not the case. I don’t like feeling that I am being blackmailed if it’s the right word I don’t know. Or forced to play in certain events.”
“I’ve had a long time to thing about it but I’m not going to hang around another two years to wait until things become fair, or what I believe to be fair. They have a chance to sort things out in my opinion, but I aint hanging around, I’ve made plans. But I aint making no knee-jerk reactions, I am having a good four, five six months off whatever. And I’ll assess the situation.”
“Part of me still wants to play but like I said, early December I was that ill trying to keep up with the schedule and that ill with the pressure being put on me getting letters from World Snooker, always a week before events saying I had to respond by such and such a date…and I just think it was an absolute build-up of things and my biggest crime was actually doing well in the events, obviously a lot of late nights, a lot of playing and fatigue does set in.”
“Obviously I got glandular fever, I got really ill, I didn’t event know I had it until I went to the doctors and said I know that something is up with me. I was driving home in December and I was lucky to get home, I was on the bumper of cars, I could have fell asleep and I just decided that the family and life itself is more important and that whatever pressure World Snooker was going to put on me, I am prepared to face any consequence but I am not going to make myself ill in the process of trying to explain myself and to convince them that I am ill. It is hard enough playing this game let alone having any of that going on.”
“I’m not the only player to have it but I just aint prepared to put myself under that stress. I know there is a big responsibility on me to promote the game and I think I do that and I’d play in any tournament if it’s physically possible but it’s just a bit hard sometimes and I think that a bit of leeway needs to be given and stop hiding behind these letters and these rules because it’s not right.”
“Like I said I am quite happy to move on if I have to and enter another world where there aren’t those restrictions on me, a bit of Strictly, a bit of TalkSport, being a pundit, there’s a lot out there for me to do. I know there is still a bit more in the tank for snooker but it’s up to certain people to start to do the right thing and stop trying to blackmail players because snooker players love to play the game. But make it fair, that’s all I ask, just to make it fair and that’s all I can say really.”
A word also for Ali Carter who it is fair to say has divided opinion with his tactics this week, but with wins against attacking players such as Judd Trump and Stephen Maguire in particular en route to his second Crucible final, I think it is hard to argue. It was always going to be a tall order to overcome O’Sullivan in the final, a man who as well as having played very well throughout the tournament, holds an emphatic head to head advantage against him in all competitions.
To his credit, the final was closer than it might appear looking at the scoreline, but it is probably fair to say that Ronnie was just slightly the stronger player in all departments, Ali missing a few crucial balls at vital times, particularly this afternoon which meant that Ronnie was able to edge further away each session.
I will save my reflections on the tournament on the whole for another post, but all that there is left to say now is congratulations to Ronnie O’Sullivan on proving his class once again on the big stage, exactly as he had set out to do at the start of the tournament.