6.11.12

O'SULLIVAN WALKS THE WALK

Ronnie O'Sullivan has told World Snooker he will not play again this season, meaning he misses the UK Championship, Masters and, most importantly, the defence of his world title.

The closing date for the World Championship is actually next week so he could in theory change his mind but those close to him say this is unlikely [edit: this is wrong, it is in fact in the New Year, which gives him more time to change his mind].

We're used to various descriptions of O'Sullivan: the tortured genius, the mercurial star dogged by demons.

It's actually simpler than this: he suffers from depression. He has suffered from it since he was a teenager. It's a real condition which is why he has my sympathy.

I've seen him when he's been really down. I've seen him in tears.

Those who ask how a millionaire such as Ronnie can be depressed may as well ask how someone rich and famous can get a brain tumour. Mental illness afflicts people in every walk of life.

However it's also true that O'Sullivan has at various times in his career behaved petulantly and this means he has exhausted the patience of many, including some of his own fans.

He shares many characteristics with Alex Higgins: unconventional, uncompromising people who found an outlet in snooker and who produced exquisite skill and great theatre, bringing people to the game, but always with the flame of self destruction burning away in the background.

In terms of what he has been capable of doing on the snooker table I've never seen a better player than Ronnie. Snooker, though, is a sport unremitting in exposing mental frailties.

Even though he has won far more than most, many would feel he could have won more. He may still, but not this season.

Cod psychiatry at a time like this is unhelpful but it isn't hard to trace back the imprisonment of his father for murder in 1992 as the major turning point in O'Sullivan's life.

He seemed to have an ideal of what life would be like when he was released which has not been realised.

But these are personal matters and, away from snooker and the limelight, O'Sullivan has time now to work on his problems.

If he does come back it will be at a much lower ranking, potentially outside the top 32.

That would represent a challenge. It could be an effort too far.

Snooker isn't O'Sullivan's problem but he obviously feels it isn't a help either.

O'Sullivan is one of snooker's all time greats. A fascinating, complex, contradictory character who, like Higgins before him, delighted and maddened in almost equal measure.

Snooker goes on but it will miss him. Whether he misses it will determine whether he ever plays again.

44 comments:

PaulG said...

So dave reading between the lines of your post it seems to be the relationship with his father since his release from prison that looks like an issue ?.

Graeme said...

Good article Dave.
Snooker needs a constant infusion of new blood in order to survive. Just like any sport. Snooker will carry on without Ronnie both in the short and long term, whatever he decides.
That said, if you're a fan of snooker and enjoy watching how the game is played at the very highest level, then this is very sad news indeed. I've played at amateur level for close on 25 years, made my share of centuries along the way and can honestly say it is conceiveable that nobody may play with the same degree of panache, flair, talent, call it what you will, as O'Sullivan.
Of course, his health and welfare come first so I join Dave in wishing Ronnie what he would wish for himself and if this is really the end of his career then I'm just glad that I'll be able to say that I saw him at his best.

Dave H said...

No I didn't mean that. I don't know the specifics. I was just saying that this was a major incident in his life and is still difficult even though his father has been released.

Anonymous said...

Oh well, life goes on!

Anonymous said...

What if he only plays in the 2013 world championship, wouldn't that boost his rankings enough to stay in the top 16, with the money list?

Anyway, he will be missed.

Anonymous said...

This degrades every tournement this season: not one player will be tested enough because they haven't played the current world champion (and greatest of all time). This is very good news for players, but not for fans. And it opens the door for potential Trump domination.

Ray said...

Being bi-polar for many years I can sympathise with Ronnie's depression.What amazes me is that he can play at all because it is such a mentally exhausting game.I play at League level but could never play at a professional level (even if I was good enough)because of what it would do to me physically.
So perhaps Ronnie has in fact over-achieved rather than under-achieved when you consider his illness and other things. How he does it I will never know.
If he doesn't play again I would like to thank him for his incredible snooker genius and the wonderful moments on the table.Snooker has been so very lucky to have him.

Anonymous said...

Agree totally with above comment. It is all Trump now. Snooker is now his to dominate. Personally, snooker will no longer have the same appeal for me watching as a fan now Ronnie has retired his cue. But I feel he is doing the right thing. As a manic depression sufferer myself I think he does need something else in his life, where he can be Ronnie O Sullivan & not Ronnie O Sullivan snooker star. He has nothing left to prove, he has bowed out at the top, where he should always be. I wish him well & just hope that he does not use his free time to become a reality TV regular! Cringe!

John McBride said...

When I first heard the news, my initial thoughts were ones of disappointment. When I heard the reasons were due personal issues I then thought “yeah, motivational ones”. But then, WTF to I know about depression? Sod all to be honest, which I should probably be thankful for. Your analogy Dave was probably spot on as depression is an illness, that much I do know. It’s a terrible shame.
Ronnie, like other greats in our game are wonderful to watch in full flow & Ronnie in my opinion is someone who hits the ball better than anyone I’ve ever seen hit them, ever. Maybe having such an incredible talent brings with it these issues because let’s be honest, the guy has an incredible level of talent in his mind. He will be missed.
I have sympathy for him & I do genuinely wish him well….

Anonymous said...

I echo the above comments and if he happens to read this blog,wish him all the best whatever he does.Hopefully the haters will not come along with their rants.O Sullivan has given me a lot of pleasure watching him,at his best hes awesome.For selfish reasons I hope he comes back,but whatever,best wishes Ron

Anonymous said...

simon bedford is the only player to have beaten the world champion this season.

Anonymous said...

Is this for real? Anyone else think it's just a cynical ploy to boost viewer ratings for his programme this evening, and that he'll be back if not for the UK certainly for the Masters? I won't take this seriously until he skips the Masters which we all know is his favourite tournament.

richm612 said...

Thank you, David. A sensitive and insightful post giving a good perspective on the situation. I'm sure we all wish Ronnie well.

Anonymous said...

Its not looking like Ronnie will play on cos next year he will be out of the top 32 at least whould of been Nice if he just Played in world just to defend his title but good luck to him ture legend Nice post dave spot on i think about Ronnie

Janie Watkins said...

Anon 5.40pm. He won't be in the Masters. No need to wait and wonder.

He hasn't entered it. End of.

He can't change his mind later and decide to roll into Ally Pally and have a game.

I for one, will greatly miss watching Ronnie and his sublime skills on table.

I'd like to thank him for the endless hours of enjoyment he's give all us fans through his career.

And I wish him Happiness in his life, which for anyone with depression knows, may not be easy to attain.

I hope he may come back next season of course.

Anonymous said...

That's a great shame he won't defend the world title but if he doesn't feel happiness on the circuit then he has done the right thing.

Anonymous said...

Get better soon Ronnie,all the very best.

The Blog said...

2012 does seem to represent the wind of change in snooker.

In May, Stephen Hendry - the all time greatest player (based on stats rather than subjective opinion) - retired and this week we have Ronnie O'Sullivan semi-retiring from the sport due to personal issues, and Judd Trump becoming the new number one. Trump could be the most natural talent since O'Sullivan.

I'm sure sports historians will look back on 2012 as a defining year in snooker.

Anonymous said...

i wish no harm to ronnie at all but this is the best news ive had all season. im sick of his "im playing, im not playing, im taking a break, im not....."

Anonymous said...

4 worlds, 4 masters, 4 uks nothing to prove he's had a great career and is an all time great end of.

Colin M said...

All I will say is that I hope Ronnie returns. Ronnie's the best there has ever been and I feel that the only challenge he might have left to is to play and defeat Judd in the World Final, after having qualified for the tournament playing left-handed of course...:-)

I won't forget his 2012 WC campaign in a hurry; he truly showed that he is peerless.



Anonymous said...

i do hope he changes his mind for the world championships.in saying that it makes his snooker legends Goffs appearance with Steve the legend davis more special as it will prob be the last time ill see him play..he is a tortured soul i was in the front row when he came out in goffs at the benson and hedges final about 13 yrs ago and me and my mate said to each other he is stoned and a few months later it turned out he was.. but cast all the controversy aside Ronnie deep down loves and respects the game and never acted like Alex higgins on a consisted basis. I mean Ronnie used natural methods like running to help him instead of alcohol, in many ways he took control to conquer his demons years ago and maybe he just needs to conquer other challenges now..I have a feeling he may come back and imagine if he did and won a fifth world title, he did say he would love to win it as a qualifier and only he could do it..The fear is the standard is rising and like alex higgins who tried a comeback before his final ban it could be to late but who knows..well done Ronie O Sullivan for a great career.

Claus said...

Very sad news indeed. I wish him all the best and, admittedly for selfish reasons, hopes he returns at some point. It was a big blow for me personally when Hendry called it quits but this is on a much more serious note.

Damn.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 10:35, I am genuinely glad for you that you have never experienced what Ronnie and I have experienced and I sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, hope that you have every reason to remain cynical. Because that would mean that depression has never touched you or anyone you love.

I would not wish this to my worst enemy. Well I take that back. I do wish this to my worst enemy. But not my second-worst.

Depression is more than being down. It's not having a bad day or stubbing your toe. It's weeks and months and years in which I wish I had never been born and that the only thing that keeps me alive is the knowledge that anything I did to harm myself I would inflict severe pain on those who love me.

A close friend lost his sister to a suicide thirty years ago and I watched that tear him apart. I have told him I'm grateful that he shared his grief because the knowledge of that experience has kept me from doing the same thing.

Nevertheless, if I had been able figure out some way to induce mass amnesia and wipe out all knowledge of my existence in their minds, I would not be typing these words today.

If you know anyone who has known Ronnie they would tell you that he lives to play snooker. This must be making the whole situation worse, that he feels like **** but can't do the only thing that he excels at, that he loves, that makes his world make sense?

Continue to be cynical and dismissive because that will tell me that you and no one who is close to you has experienced depression. Congratulations.

Shaun foster said...

On my way to work this morning my mate was saying how can ronnie be depressed when he's the best at what he does and makes a fortune and then went on to say he'd be depressed going down pit everyday. I know this is an ignorant argument as depression isn't prejudiced on who it chooses to inflict but I could slightly see what he was getting at. I wish ronnie all the best for the future but would love for him to give it a few more years without putting to much pressure on himself. Your a long time retired Ron, Remember we start playing snooker because we enjoy it and ronnie seems to have forgot that due to putting to much pressure on himself to achieve perfection and entertain everyone. I personally think he will play at the worlds

Shaun foster said...

In fact Michael holt and a few others in the know are pretty sure he's playing at the worlds

Anonymous said...

Ronnie's left as World Champion and there's no better place to hang the cue up.

It seems that Snooker is depressing him so continuing to play will not rid him of the demons in his head.

Quit while you're ahead Ronster. You've nothing left to prove.

Richieboy44 said...

Great documentary last night on ITV4 about Ronnie , I really hope Ronnie defends his crucible title , even if the entries for Sheffield close next week , can't Ronnie play the through the qualifiers at Prestatyn few weeks before Sheffield ?
How awesome would that be if he successfully defended his title as a qualifier ... Anyway , Yes , Fame and fortune does not cure mental/emotional illness , I can only imagine what it must have been like to have both your Father AND Mother sent to prison over the years , dear me , we are all so blessed that he has managed to play at the level he's played at for so long ...
Ronnie is up there with the biggest draws in the history of the game ... The Hurricane, The Whirlwind , The Rocket and now The Haircut , if it wasn't for these Characters , this marvellous sport simply would not be the same ...
Hope you Return someday , but first of all I wish you Happiness whatever you decide to do ...

Anonymous said...

I missed the documentary last night. Could someone please provide me with a link where it could be watched again.

Best Regards from Sweden

Graeme said...

The WC titles, UK titles, Masters titles aside, think of the 5:20 maximum, the decider maximum v Williams, the maximum v King in Glasgow having asked Jan what the prize was for a maximum, the century breaks left handed.
All achieved despite bouts of depression and self loathing, a very real illness.
As a snooker fan I worry that, despite all the previous threats to quit, this really could be it simply because, to quit now would be doing it at the top, as world champion.
If it is, well done Ronnie for getting to the top of the game, playing the game as it should be played and for giving us so much excitement and enjoyment.
Wishing you health and happiness.

Anonymous said...

The right thing to do for Ronnie as a person, I'm sure.

Though I really hope he enters the WC, to defend his title.

ariososi said...

At 10.04:
I don't think snooker is depressing him, it is rather: depression is snookering him...

Anonymous said...

Dave please write a new blog post so we can all move on!

Colin M said...

We shouldn't forget his 92 break in this year's WC - Willie Thorne said he'd be lucky to make 20. That was probably the most difficult 50+ break ever made on television.

jamie brannon said...

Michael Holt claims on Facebook that O'Sullivan will defend his world title. He's has always taken a cynical view on Ronnie, but I'm hoping he's right.

Graeme said...

Colin M.....absolutely. Remember it well, sheer genius.
It is the case that no one player is bigger than the game. Ronnie, however has come closer than anyone.
Comments suggesting we should all move on are fair enough but it would be unreasonable not to recognise the massive impact Ronnie has had on the game and the impact his absence will have.
Best wishes to him whatever he decides.

Anonymous said...

Dave, is there no other way for him to play in the Worlds after the entry-deadline? He is defending champion. In other words: when can we say for sure he won't play in it?

Dave H said...

If he doesn't enter he can't play. Therefore when the entry date passes if he hasn't entered he won't be in it.

Anonymous said...

Hello

Does anyone know the exact "entry date" for Ronnie to choose whether to play in the 2013 World Championships please.

Anonymous said...

Richieboy44

not very up on snooker are we

qualifiers hasent been in prestatyn for 3 years

Anonymous said...

i wouldnt fancy winning the world title without the best player in the world and current world champion at it.

Anonymous said...

I agree, it will lack credibility, and the winner will be this century's Horace Lindrum. Wouldn't it be ironic if Robertson win it...

Anonymous said...

Totally agree. In fact, like stated before, the whole season has this sense of less value, as the winners of tournements won't be challenged by the world champion. I mean, Bingham won his 2nd title this season, but who else was in that event? No big names, so it means less.

Anonymous said...

thanks 731, but i dont care much for your smart ass answer.

i do not wish ronnie any harm or ill health, but im entitled to think snooker would be better off without him, with the attitude he shows, whether its caused by illness or not ("always" ill when needing to fly?).

yes hes a brilliant player. i dont think snooker owes him anything. without snooker he wouldnt be where he is today.

i do enjoy watching him play, as he can play amazing stuff, but i just hate the baggage and think im entitled to that.

once again i do hope he keeps well and his illness doesnt have too negative effect on his life, but as for snooker...the big wheel keeps on turning