Phil Haigh ✍️
Ronnie O’Sullivan ‘changed the game’ of snooker early in his career by taking on a shot that few players did then, but now every professional practices regularly, believes Shaun Murphy.
Sometimes called a ‘recovery blue’ because a player has strayed from ideal position, the shot in question sees the blue potted to a baulk corner pocket.
It is a common shot in the modern game, but did not used to be, as Phil Yates explained on commentary during the Championship League on FreeSports, saying: ‘One aspect of the game that has vastly improved is the recovery blue.
‘So many players knock it in now as if it’s simple, but we all know it’s a real examination of cueing.’
Former world champion Murphy explained that it was the Rocket that turned the shot from a rarity into standard practice 30 years ago.
‘It was O’Sullivan, really, that started it in the early 90s,’ said the Magician. ‘He was the one that first, if he finished near the pink spot somewhere, he’d just get down and pot the blue.
‘Of course players had done it before, but not with the regularity that he started doing it and the ease with which he started doing it.
‘It’s changed the game. We talk about [Stephen] Hendry changing the game with break-building, pot the blue, split off the pink into the reds, but O’Sullivan changed it again with that long blue into a baulk pocket.
‘It’s a shot now that every professional player practices regularly and comes up so often.’
Famously part of the Class of 92 alongside John Higgins and Mark Williams, O’Sullivan made a huge impact on the professional game that year as he won 74 out of his first 76 matches in qualifying contests at Blackpool’s Norbreck Castle Hotel.
Yates recalls how quickly the signature Rocket shot became obvious, saying: ‘It was that qualifying school in 1992 that he turned pro, Ronnie, I watched a lot of his matches and one of the abiding memories was the blue thwacking into the pocket.’
Watch O’Sullivan play an especially difficult version of the shot below, as he bridges over the pack of reds to pot the blue to baulk.
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