Rocket Ronnie O’Sullivan and Snooker Legends touchdown in Cardiff in January. RedHanded talks to the great man himself.
REDHANDED: Tell us about the format of Snooker Legends?
RONNIE O’SULLIVAN: It’s all about seeing us play snooker in a more relaxed environment where we can entertain and interact in a way people can never see at tournaments. This one is me and Jimmy (White) v Mark (Williams) and Matthew (Stevens) so it’s England v Wales.
How did you come to get involved?
I met Jason, who runs it, in 2011 through Jimmy and as well as his involvement in snooker he owned a children’s theatre company that toured Thomas the Tank Engine and my son was a huge fan at the time so we went to the show, got chatting, got on really well and started working together.
Is it all about having fun or are you all still pretty competitive?
We still want to win, no doubt but we also want to put on a show.
As a natural entertainer, do you find these kinds of events more fun than tournaments?
Yes, of course. I started out in clubs myself and I remember how excited I got when Kirk Stevens was booked to come play an exhibition. The buzz was around for weeks and it was such a thrill to be able to see people like him and Davis play live.
How many 147s have you made in the last couple of Snooker Legend tours?
I’ve had 3 in the last 8 nights; trouble is people begin to almost expect them! I’ll always go for one though as the crowd love it.
Is there any scope for audience participation?
Yes, after the match there’s a chance for fans to get to play a fun doubles frame. It’s a raffle so everyone’s got an equal chance to play with us on a match table in front of a big crowd.
You’re acknowledged as the most talented player snooker has ever seen. Over the years how have you learned to deal with the pressure that comes with this level of expectation?
Other people give you certain tags of being this and that and it's nice but at the end of the day I’m just a snooker player. Pressure isn’t easy and like anyone, sometimes I deal with it better than others but I ain’t done too bad have I?
Who’s your favourite person to play against?
Gotta be Jimmy. Everyone loves Jimmy and my day is always a bit better if I have a bit of Jimmy in it!
Most memorable break? Why?
Tough one. The 147 to win the Welsh Open in Newport a couple of years ago stands out of course, as I hit the last red left handed but for me the 92 in the 2012 world final with Ali Carter is probably, in my mind, the best break I’ve ever made.
Best match you’ve ever played in and why?
Too many to mention.
In the pantheon of the world’s great snooker players, who would you like to have played against at their peak and why?
Joe Davis - he was the guvnor.
You play so fast, do you ever wish you could take it a bit slower?
I don’t intend to play fast or slow, I just seem to get into a rhythm and I’m able to see the pattern of the shots ahead. I think if you take too long you can overthink it.
If you could give just one tip to aspiring players, what would it be?
Go for your shots, as Stephen Hendry said, there are no points for safety.
When you’re old and grey, what will you look back on, from a snooker perspective, with most pride and satisfaction?
People will say I’ve won the Worlds’, UK and Masters five times and titles are what you get remembered for, but I like to think people will say I always went out there to entertain and play the game in the right way. Snooker has been such a massive part of my life since I was ten, so I guess my snooker cue is never going to be that far away from me. I may not be winning world titles when I’m 60 but I’ll still be down the club knocking a few balls around with the boys.
Snooker Legends, Friday January 8,
St David’s Hall, Cardiff. Tel: 029 2087 8444.
Priced from £15