Ronnie O’Sullivan has World Snooker Championship warning for rivals after retirement tease

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Ronnie O’Sullivan has warned his World Championship rivals that his cue is “great” despite recent concerns at the Tour Championship. The 45-year-old, the reigning world champion after triumphing at the Crucible for a sixth time in 2020, has lost five straight finals this year.

The Tour Championship was the latest defeat as he lost 10-4 to Neil Robertson, which followed on from disappointment at the Players Championship, Welsh Open, Scottish Open and the Northern Ireland Open.

Before reaching the final and facing Robertson, O’Sullivan complained of problems with his cue in a first round victory over John Higgins, who beat the Essex potter in the Players Championship finale.

O’Sullivan explained after beating Higgins: “I’ve had a bit of a nightmare with my cue, I put it in the menders a few days ago and got it back just before that best of three tournament we played [WST Pro Series] and it was no good

“I sent it back and it made it worse, it’s kind of irretrievable now so I’ve got to get myself a new cue. It’s a nightmare really.”

But ‘The Rocket’ is now happy with the state of his equipment a few weeks on, with the Worlds getting underway in less than a fortnight in Sheffield.

Speaking on a live stream on his official Facebook page, O’Sullivan said: “The cue’s great. John and Paul have done a great job on it.

“I’ve managed to find a spare cue as well so next time my tip goes ‘see you later’ I’ve got a cue I can just whip out and play with. I’m really excited about that.”

Asked if there’s any rule or reason he wouldn’t take two cues out for a match, O’Sullivan added: “There’s no reason. You’d just be confusing yourself in many ways, ‘I like that one, I like that one, which one should I use?’

“Then you’re giving yourself a choice to make. With just the one cue, you just get on with it.

“I’d probably never take two cues to a tournament unless it was a tournament I don’t really care much about, which is quite a few of them.

“When I say I don’t care about them I mean I use them for practice to see where my game’s at. If your game is alright, you go, ‘OK that’s enough at this tournament, I’ve got my eye on the one round the corner.’

“I might take it to a tournament and play one match with one cue, one match with another. I’ve done everything else! I’ve won a tournament left-handed, I’ve done all sorts.

“I’ve done everything that probably no-one else has done. I’ll definitely play a couple of frames with one cue and the others with another, just for the cheek of it.

“It’s a bit like the 147, ‘what’s the prize after two reds?’ Most people think you’re crazy but then when you pull it off they go, ‘Maybe you’re not so crazy after all.”

O’Sullivan sparked fears he might retire when he told fans to join him on a special live stream on his Facebook page at 3pm on Tuesday – only to announce he has become a brand champion with ROKiT and wants to be known as Ronnie ‘The ROKiT’ O’Sullivan.

He declared: “I’m taking retirement from my name. It’s not Ronnie O’Sullivan. It’s Ronnie the ROKiT. Not snooker, I’m not retiring from snooker! Everyone can chill out, calm down, take it easy. I’m still easy, potting some balls.”

“I’ve been working with Rokit since 2013. To work with JK [ROKiT co-founder and chairman Jonathan Kendrick] and his team of people is fantastic. I’ve always wondered why we didn’t have a lifetime partnership, with the nickname and his company name, it’s a no brainer.

“Great to start that relationship up and it’s going to be a fantastic year. Hopefully many more years to come. We’ve got loads of great things to do.

“I’ve done a bit of speedy stuff in the car, racing and all that, I said to JK, ‘I want to get in the car and get racing.’ He said: ‘Brilliant!’

“There’s a crossover between what I enjoy, what JK enjoys and what Rokit as a brand like to be involved in. We’re all passionate about the same sort of things.”

And discussing his plans going forward, O’Sullivan – who has been a snooker professional since 1992 – added: “This year I’ve been able to play a bit more because we weren’t forced to travel round the globe five times in a month. I just can’t do that.

“I can’t enjoy my life or function properly if I’m flying around. It all depends how the schedule comes out.

“If it’s sensible I’ll play more, if it’s not I’ll play less and will just be on the road doing a few more exhibitions while them boys are out in Gibraltar grafting away.

“For everything I don’t do, there’s an opportunity in there to do something else. One million per cent [I will fulfil the cancelled exhibitions]. I’m super excited to get back.

“For me it’s about going back to the grassroots. That’s why I love the exhibitions. I grew up in snooker clubs. We get the chance to go around and play in front of an intimate crowd.

“We always have a great time. The fans enjoy it. I’ve told Jase [Jason Francis, head of Premier Stage Productions who created Snooker Legends] if he wants another 10 more years out of me, he’s got to keep me fit and well!”

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