2020 was a year full of bad news, and a burden in many ways. But there are also people who will fondly remember this year. Like Ronnie O’Sullivan, who became world snooker champion for the sixth time in 2020 under special circumstances.
After his most spectacular win this year, Ronnie O’Sullivan was initially frustrated. The Englishman quarreled after his dramatic success at 17:16 in the semi-finals of the Snooker World Cup in Sheffield in the summer: “I don’t have any cue work, I haven’t gotten any consistency in my game.” Against Mark Selby he had restarted 14:16 and started shooting balls violently. Defeat seemed inevitable, and the fun of Infinite Safety tilts toward zero in O’Sullivan.
This is how fans know and love him, and sometimes even give up on him too. Sheer brilliance and pronounced chilliness can take turns in his 45-year-old craft star in a very short period of time. But on August 14, luck was on his side. The balls lay again and again on the table as if on an invisible thread O’Sullivan made an unexpected comeback, and two days later he also won the final against Keren Wilson and thus became the world champion for the sixth time.
A lot has happened in snooker in recent years, as billiards has become more and more international – also in terms of tournaments, which are no longer only held in the British Isles. This led to kind of arbitrariness, in the game’s home country, interest has been diminishing for years. Unless Ronnie O’Sullivan plays. The crucial World Cup semi-final session against BBC radio broadcaster Mark Selby brought him the highest audience rating ever.
The fact that O’Sullivan did well in the World Cup was in some ways linked to the coronavirus. Because the traditional tournament at the Crucible Theater in Sheffield had to be held after spectators were still being accepted at first, but ultimately without fans.
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After the decision was announced, O’Sullivan rose from contestant to favorite. “To him, it feels like training now. The audience’s expectations are always very high with him. Now he can handle it more relaxedly and that should be beneficial to him,” said world number two Neal Robertson from Australia.
O’Sullivan had previously voiced criticism of the originally planned admission of viewers in times of the pandemic and tried to compare it to “lab rats”. It even kept a potential decline open before it was overwhelmed by current events in its meaning. By order of the government, he said that the World Cup should go on without fans, “I prefer that because I am not a gender.” Then he took off. In the final, some visitors were allowed to be there again, but O’Sullivan was already floating in his own spheres that he could only achieve at snooker.
“My thoughts can be here and there. But once I taste something, I want to know for myself if I still have it. Then I try and all of a sudden it can work out – just like it did at the World Cup,” he recently told the BBC. She had been nominated as Sports Personality of the Year in Great Britain, an honor that no snooker player has received since 1990. In the end, Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton won, but O’Sullivan has once again rendered his sport an outstanding service.