Ronnie O’Sullivan doesn’t fancy World Championship chances and credits cameras for last Crucible glory

'I don't think I would have won it without having that sort of pressure on me.'

Ronnie O’Sullivan doesn’t fancy World Championship chances and credits cameras for last Crucible glory
Cazoo World Snooker Championship 2023 - Day Eleven
Ronnie O’Sullivan is not convinced he will reign at the Crucible again (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan says it was only the presence of the film crew working on his documentary that got him over the line at the World Championship last year, and he doubts that he will lift the famous trophy again.

The Rocket won the sport’s biggest prize for a seventh time in 2022, beating Judd Trump in the final as he equalled Stephen Hendry’s record of Crucible titles.

He was closely followed by a film crew throughout the campaign, with the excellent documentary ‘Ronnie O’Sullivan: The Edge of Everything’ released this week on Prime Video.

O’Sullivan was extremely focussed and business-like as he progressed through the tournament and he says the presence of the cameras was behind his attitude as he didn’t want to let himself and the viewers down by chucking the towel in at any stage.

‘I knew I had to try and I knew I had to give 100 per cent because I knew I was going to have to watch it back and I didn’t want to defraud the public,’ said O’Sullivan.

‘Normally if I don’t feel like playing in a tournament and I don’t feel like it’s my week this week, I’ve earned the right to do that [not give 100 per cent].

‘But when you’re putting it on screen and you are asking people to take time out to watch this, and I’m going to have to watch it back, I wanted for it to be genuine and me to put my heart and soul into every ball and every pot for the whole year. It wasn’t just the World Championships, it was the whole year! My heart and soul into it.

‘It made me win that Championships, I don’t think I would have won it without having that sort of pressure on me to perform.

‘I don’t think I’d have got past the semis. I think [John] Higgins would have done me because that’s a tough game for me. I could have lost that match but I dug deep in that match.’

O’Sullivan’s defence of his title ended at the quarter-final stage this year when he was beaten by eventual champion Luca Brecel, but he will remain one of the favourites for more Crucible success next year when he is 48 years old.

Given how much the stress of the World Championship takes out of the Rocket, he doubts whether he will reach the summit again, but admits that he felt like that over a decade ago when he had won just three world titles.

On his chances of an eighth title, he said: ‘Probably not, to be honest with you. I’m sure I’ll pitch up and play again, whether I’ve got another one in me I don’t know.

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O’Sullivan’s 2022 is documented in The Edge of Everything(Picture: Getty Images)

‘I don’t think I have, to be honest with you, if I’m being brutally honest with you. I don’t think I’ve got another one in me. But I thought that in 2011 and I’ve won a few since then so it’s strange how things can turn out differently.’

The pressures and strains of a Crucible campaign are made very clear in The Edge of Everything, when O’Sullivan is really struggling mentally during the final against Judd Trump, questioning whether he can even return to the arena at times.

The iconic cueist says he was suffering stage fright during the match, which has only happened to him once before, during his first World Championship win over John Higgins in 2001.

‘I had a bad afternoon session on the Monday where I got stage fright and I’ve only ever had that twice at the Crucible,’ he explained. ‘The first time was the final session of the final against John Higgins and I thought, “what am I going through here?” I’d never had it in my life.

‘Then the only other time I had it was against Judd in the afternoon. I put it down to the first one being a really difficult one to win, because you’ve never won it before and want to get that monkey off your back. Then obviously the five in between that I was in my prime years, you go through it but you always seem to have the upper hand and I always felt in control of most of the matches.

World Champ Snooker X
O’Sullivan beat Higgins 18-14 in the 2001 Crucible final (Picture: Getty Images)

‘Then this one I thought it might be my last one, so to have such a big lead and everyone around me thinking it’s in the bag…I knew it wasn’t in the bag, I know at the Crucible matches can turnaround.’

O’Sullivan explained that dressing room meltdowns are actually quite common at the Crucible, but only against Higgins and Trump has he felt he could not play properly because of the pressure.

The documentary shows Dr Steve Peters helping O’Sullivan through the tough moments, and the Rocket said it was not the first time that he has told the psychiatrist that he just can’t keep playing.

‘I’d done that before in 2012 when I was playing great in the final against Ali Carter,’ he explained. ‘I played great all tournament, but I was speaking to him [Peters] before the game, he went out the room and about 10 minutes later I was like, “Shit! I can’t go out there and play!”

‘It’s just the Crucible can do that to you sometimes, it really, really can.

‘So two times I’ve had stage fright when I’ve been out there playing. But normally I get it before the game, during the dressing room period, I’m on edge. But when I go out there and play it doesn’t affect my play, there’s only been two times where it has actually affected my ability to play snooker. It’s quite scary, you know.’

MORE : ‘It’s what we need’ – Neil Robertson fascinated to see Ronnie O’Sullivan documentary

MORE : Ronnie O’Sullivan warns snooker bosses he could have ‘no option’ but to stop playing

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