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Ronnie O'Sullivan gives honest view on new £800k snooker ball and World Championship row

Ronnie O’Sullivan has doubled down on his positive view towards Saudi Arabia’s growing influence in snooker and stated that he is a fan of the new £800,000 golden ball worth 20 points. The Rocket has caused shockwaves in the sport once again by suggesting that the World Championship should be moved from the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield to Asia, receiving fierce backlash over his idea.

O’Sullivan recently inked a new ambassadorial agreement which will see him feature in all World Snooker Tour (WST) events in Saudi Arabia, in addition to trips to the Middle East to coach upcoming talent, after winning the inaugural Riyadh Season World Masters of Snooker in March.

He defeated world champion Luca Brecel 5-2 in the final but failed to pot the new golden ball, added to a snooker table for the first time. It can only be legally hit once a player has made a maximum 147 break and is worth 20 points, allowing stars to reach an unprecedented 167 tally.

After the golden ball was not potted by any player, the £400,000 prize for a 167 was doubled to £800,000 for next year’s event and despite criticism that Saudi organisers are making fundamental changes to the sport, O’Sullivan spoke out in their defence.

“I don’t like what when people are quick to judge,” O’Sullivan told the Daily Mail. “I am quite an honest person and I think people know that. I will say what I think is right. I think once you start tampering with the rules of the game, then you start to cause a problem. I don’t even know what the rules are so if I am out there thinking I don’t know what’s going on it’s bad.

“I am also a bit of a purist at heart but I understand things need to evolve and change. You have to keep up with the times. So, there is (a) mixture with getting that balance right. I don’t think you can start tampering with the rules of the game and that’s what I liked with Saudi. They said we aren’t going to do that, but what are going to do is add a ball. It doesn’t affect the game.

“If someone is good enough to make a 167 and get that, there is a massive bonus. So nothing actually really changes with the game except there is an extra ball which could be life-changing money for one of these players. I like that. It’s good. I was on board with it. I liked it yeah.”

Earlier this week, O’Sullivan called for the WST to consider moving the World Championship away from Sheffield and to either China or Saudi, a view that has been questioned by fans and his peers.

But the seven-time world champion has doubled down on his stance that players are treated better in Asia which allows them to concentrate on their matches, rather than off-the-table issues.

“’I think the tournaments we travel to in Asia and Saudi Arabia are different to the others,” he added. “A lot more things are laid on for you. You don’t have to worry about food because there is a banquet in the afternoon and the evening for all the players and all the officials.

“You don’t have to spend time worrying or thinking about where you are going to eat. Instead of having maybe four practice tables for 120 players, they will have 12 tables. So, you can go and practice when you want. You can take your time. There is no rush like there usually is with these events.

“They also put on courtesy cars to take you to and from events. You really don’t have to do anything other than play snooker.

“Sometimes the headache [at other events] becomes what am I going to eat, how am I going to get to the venue. Once you take away all the headaches, it kind of just becomes ‘okay, I just need to go and play snooker’. As a player, that’s the most important thing. I just want to go and play snooker.”


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