Ronnie O’Sullivan dismisses “amateur” Northern Ireland Open after being dumped out

Ronnie O’Sullivan may once again have incurred the wrath of the organisers at the Northern Ireland Open after dismissing it as little more than “match practice” after being knocked out of the competition.

The Rocket lost 4-3 to Masters champion Yan Bingtao in the last 16 of the tournament in Belfast, despite twice holding a lead in the tie.

The 21-year-old Chinese snooker player was the one who held his nerve in a decider to dump the six-time world champion out of the competition.

In typically blunt fashion, O’Sullivan wasn’t going to cry over spilt milk in his post-match interview.

Instead, he took the opportunity to make it crystal clear that he doesn’t really care much for these Home Nation events.

“These tournaments are very very minor, they’re like match practice really,” he said. “The three big events that are important are the Worlds, the Masters, the UK.

Ronnie O'Sullivan has criticised the Northern Ireland Open, comparing it to an amateur event
Ronnie O’Sullivan has criticised the Northern Ireland Open, comparing it to an amateur event

“These best of sevens are just like pro-ams, like we used to play when we were amateurs.

“Obviously Sheffield is the place, York, the Masters. You could probably chuck a few of the Chinese events in there now as they’re quite prestigious tournaments. But otherwise, if you look at the calendar, they’re not the greatest tournaments.”

Ronnie continued: “If I had to choose between winning 10 of these, what are these tournaments called? Home Nations, and one world title, I’d take one world title.

Do you agree with Ronnie O’Sullivan’s comments about the Northern Ireland Open? Let us know in the comments section.

O'Sullivan was knocked out of the Northern Ireland Open by young Chinese star Yan Bingtao
O’Sullivan was knocked out of the Northern Ireland Open by young Chinese star Yan Bingtao

“Obviously that’s a proper event. This is just a bit of match practice. No-one is going to remember you for winning a Home Nations, are they?

“Speaking from everybody else I get why they’re excited about them events. If I was Yan Bingtao I’d be super excited about it. My heart has gone out of giving blood, sweat and tears on the tour. I’m happy just to come and hit a few balls.”

His comments come as stark contrast to those of four-time world snooker champion Mark Selby. After being stunned by Dave Gilbert, he took to Twitter to reflect on his time in Belfast.

“Enjoyed my time in belfast this week, such a great city and lovely people,” he wrote. “Not to be this week lost to the better player in Dave Gilbert. Hope he wins it great lad.”

It’s not the first time O’Sullivan has been critical of the Northern Ireland Open this week.

After winning his opener against Andy Hicks, the Englishman said: “I kind of struggled with the table and I struggled with the atmosphere – there was really no atmosphere out there.”

He later clarified that he was referring to the layout of the venue rather than calling out the fans, who he credited for “always carrying me through”.

But that won’t have done his relationship with tournament organisers any favourites – and neither will comparing the ranking competition to a pro-am event.

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