Scottish Open 2020: Ronnie O’Sullivan's referee spat, 'watergate' tiff & the most outrageous fluke
The Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes played host to the third Home Nations tournament of the season: the Scottish Open. Ronnie O’Sullivan was in effervescent form, whether he was compiling spell-binding breaks, getting into spats with referees or anointing his successor as the sport’s leading player.
"I knew I was playing a very, very good player, he's super-talented. He's the nearest to someone like Judd [Trump] because he scores really quick. He's dangerous.
He could be very good - he's very good now. When I say he could be very good, he could be the best.
"He scores so quick. If you don't score quick you can never really be dangerous at this game. He's one of them - he gets on with it, bang bang bang, and before you know it he can reel three, four frames off. You've got to be able to do that if you want to win big. If you just want to win the odd tournament you can get away with plodding around the table.
Trump cracks up as King needs toilet but can't find mask
"For me it's the 147," he said. "By quite a distance, really. I think the hole-in-one isn't even in it - a hole-in-one is quite easy, even I've done one of them!
"A nine-darter: it's nine darts, but every one is the same, really. It's always in the same kind of order.
In snooker, the balls can be anywhere and it takes longer to do it, so it takes more concentration. There are more factors that can go wrong in a 147.
Which is hardest: 147, hole-in-one, nine-dart finish? Judd Trump has the answer
‘That is the most outrageous fluke!’ – Trump gets lucky
Next up for the world number one was Liang Wenbo, whom he beat, 4-2 and was the beneficiary of an outrageous fluke in the sixth frame, with Trump saying in the studio after that he was "quite happy about that. I was due a really good fluke and now I've got one".
‘That is the most outrageous fluke!’ – Trump gets lucky
However, there was no humour or luck involved in the next round - the quarter-final stage - as Trump was dumped out by Li Hang, after the world number 37 pulled off an enthralling deciding-frame victory over the world number one. Li’s reward?
Watch dramatic deciding-frame finish as Li stuns Trump
A semi-final showdown with Ronnie O’Sullivan, who cut a furious figure during his quarter-final against Ding Junhui.
Furious O'Sullivan whacks table with cue after miss, has spat with referee
O’Sullivan would beat Ding 5-4, but not before becoming embroiled in a furious row with first his cue and then the referee.
The incident occurred during frame four, when, after the six-time world champion missed a presentable black, he jabbed his cue at the table, prompting referee Brendan Moore to double take.
Furious O'Sullivan whacks table with cue in disgust after miss
And the tension intensified later in the match when Moore deferred to checker Ben Williams to ensure that O'Sullivan had not fouled the black mid-way through a break, with the six-time world champion showing his frustration with the referee.
O'Sullivan not happy as referee checks replay of shot for foul
O'Sullivan would sarcastically ask him whether he was now "100 per cent sure" after Moore had reviewed the footage - he was, no foul. His progression would see him face off against Trump's victor Li...even if O'Sullivan was at a little bit of a loss to who Li was.
'What's his name?' - O'Sullivan has to be reminded of his Scottish Open semi-final opponent
O'Sullivan seemed to be fairly unaware of Li's body of work as he needed to be reminded of his name in the Eurosport studio, while also referencing the travails with his cue tip:
It is what it is. I'm into the next round and hopefully I get a new tip on. Have a little go... what's his name [the guy I'm playing] tomorrow? Oh, Li Hang yeah.
O'Sullivan: 'It was embarrassing, I just wanted to get out of there'
O'Sullivan would fight back from 4-1 down to beat Li 6-4 and awaited the winner of Mark Selby and surprise package Jamie Jones, who contested the other semi-final.
Selby begins the mind games in earnest: 'Every time Ronnie misses, it's the tip's fault'
It's funny, every time he missed a shot, it was the tip's fault.
The final: The defending champion against the world champion
The dream final, previewed here, was one marked by both excellence and also no little drama, particularly in frame four.
Selby held a 51-point lead with just the pink and black remaining. Yet, as has been his recent preference, the Rocket continued to play on. As did Selby, even after sinking the pink. Leaving O'Sullivan to shake his head as he sized up the black before the referee stepped in and bring the frame to an end.
'Ridiculous' - Watch bizarre scenes over black between O'Sullivan and Selby
O'Sullivan complains to referee about Selby in 'watergate' tiff
Yet, the tension was not done there. O’Sullivan – in the final frame before the interval – would complain to referee Leo Scullion regarding Selby’s drinking of water. The referee would have a word with a bemused Selby and O’Sullivan would miss the following shot.
O'Sullivan complains to referee about Selby then misses red
‘Wow! Wow! Wow! Who saw that coming?’ – Inexplicable miss costs O’Sullivan
It was a miss that 1997 world champion Ken Doherty and Jimmy White said would probably prove fatal.
"And that was a crucial miss in the last frame – that effectively, for me, unless he completely changes his game tonight, is the match over," said Doherty, while White added:
Missing that red [in frame eight] is down to a lack of practice because he has potted the difficult, pressure red down the back rail and he has got on the black so should clear from there. However, he has not thought about the shot and just got down and hit it; normally they go in 1000 times out of 1000 times but maybe because he has not lined it up probably due to a lack of practice. It is a massive ask from there.