Ronnie O'Sullivan says Shootout has broken him - and he may never play it again

February 23, 2020
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Ronnie O’Sullivan admits the Shootout has broken him – and he will never play in it again.

The Rocket is the game’s greatest player still on tour and entered the quickfire tournament for the first time in five years last week.

But O’Sullivan’s record 36 ranking title and five Crucible crowns counted for nothing as he was dumped out by world No.111 Billy Joe Castle.

A football-style crowd has created a bear-pit atmosphere at the Watford Colosseum for the single-frame matches of 10 minutes maximum, featuring a shot-clock dropping to just 10 seconds.

O’Sullivan, 44, acknowledged he “crumbled” and “cracked up” in the arena in an event controversially given full ranking status four years ago.

O'Sullivan says he might never play the Shootout again

But he also stressed that while he hates actually playing in the tournament, he can see it gives great entertainment value and called for more to be added to the calendar.

O’Sullivan’s Shootout experience was further hit by being caught up in a ‘cheat’ storm during his first-round win over Alan McManus.

Referee Desislava Bozhilova shouted at him to stop playing after fouling the black with his cue, but O’Sullivan insisted he had heard neither the foul or the official’s request in the deafening noise.

O’Sullivan said: “I will never play in the Shootout again. I love it as an event, but as a player there is no value.

“I played it this year, the first time in five years, because everyone said they were enjoying it and I thought ‘I have got to see what it’s all about’.

O'Sullivan in action during the Shootout

“As a player it’s not the best because there are so many variables. But as a spectator I’d rather watch it than the World Championship.

“There is so much going on it keeps you interested, it’s like an exciting film – a real cliff-hanger.

“As a player I don’t like playing in it, but I can step back and see as a spectator – which is the most important thing at the end of the day – it is enjoyable to watch.

“I do think they should, play some more of them on the tour though, because it is exciting for the spectators and that is what you want in sport.

“It is exciting stuff and if they could incorporate more of them it would be great, like the Twenty20 cricket games.

“It is all about how you handle the pressure in this – and out there in my match on Saturday I crumbled. Billy Joe Castle held himself together, but I cracked up.

“You have the shot-clock, you have this, and that going on. I missed a smelly black and other shots and left him in.

“He missed some too, but you didn’t expect him to. We both missed some really bad balls."

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