World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn insists Ronnie O’Sullivan will be making a “bad choice” if he opts to miss this year’s World Championship.
The five-times world champion has suggested he may not appear in snooker’s blue ribbon event at the Crucible in the coming months – indicating snooker at the moment isn’t the be all and end all in his life.
If he entered, O’Sullivan would be a huge favourite to win the World Championship for a sixth time having been the season’s best player so far by a mile. The Rocket has already won three of the calendar’s major ranking events, most recently the UK Championship and has earned prize money this season more than £425,000 – no player has won more.
And there’s no doubt crowds will want to see him play as snooker’s top entertainer.
But speaking in a recent interview with the BBC, Hearn said O’Sullivan should think wisely before deciding to pull out of the 17-day event.
“Listen, we have a system that’s very clear to everybody – no player is forced to play in an event. The player’s contract is democratic – you can play if you want and if you don’t (want to) then don’t play.
“It’s his (O’Sullivan’s) choice not mine. I very much hope so (that he will play) and I think for Ronnie’s sake. Life is very strange, as you look over your shoulder when you get older – you don’t want too many ‘I should have done this’ moments on your mind.
“And missing something like the World Championship for a player like Ronnie O’Sullivan, who loves snooker, there’s no question about that in my mind. I believe we will see him there and if we don’t I think he’s making a bad choice. But I recognise it is his choice to make.”
Speaking after his quarter-final defeat in the Masters to eventual winner Mark Allen, O’Sullivan told the media he was considering missing the World Championship in favour of filming another series of his ‘Hustle’ shows from abroad.
He said: “I know people didn’t take me serious but I probably will miss the World Championship.
“I’ve come back to snooker for different reasons. It’s just a bit of a time passer for me. I’ve explained before I just want to get out of snooker as quickly as I can. I still play because I’ve still got some snooker fans that love to watch me play and I’ll still play a few tournaments.
“But as far as I am concerned it is probably better if I do a month in Australia with The Hustle while the World Championships is on. Things can change but it has been on my mind for a while and I think the best place for me to be while the World Championship is away.”