World Championship

Why O'Sullivan has upper hand on rivals as snooker returns

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Ronnie O'Sullivan will return at the Championship League.

Image credit: Eurosport

27/05/2020 at 04:25 | Updated 27/05/2020 at 09:55

Ronnie O'Sullivan's unrivalled natural ability for playing top-class snooker should give him an advantage as the sport returns after the coronavirus lockdown, according to Mark Selby.

The Leicester cueman believes playing on his own table at his house - the same match table he defeated O'Sullivan 18-14 on to lift the first of his three world titles in 2014 - will boost his prospects when the Championship League gets underway behind closed doors in Milton Keynes on Monday.

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But 'The Jester' concedes that there is no substitute for the natural green baize instinct possessed by players like O'Sullivan, world champion and world number one Judd Trump, and Jack Lisowski, who Selby defeated 9-6 to lift the Scottish Open title in December.

"I think a lot of the naturally talented players like Jack Lisowski, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump will adapt a lot quicker than the players that have to work on the game a lot, like myself. I think the natural players will benefit more, but time will tell and we’ll see," said Selby speaking to World Snooker Tour.

“I didn’t just want to go straight into the World Championship and not have had any match practice at all."

World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn is hopeful the tournament will provide a launch pad to ensure the delayed World Championship can be held at the Crucible Theatre in July under strict UK government health guidelines.

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The 44th staging of the game's blue-chip event was due to start on 18 April, but will begin on 31 July until 16 August. It appears likely the conditions at the Championship League will be similar to the World Championship in being forced to be staged without fans.

"Hopefully it puts a lot of players in good shape heading into the World Championship," said Selby. "That is the pinnacle of our sport and is the one everyone wants to win. It would be quite sad if there was no tournament and that was the first one back.

"It is great that Barry Hearn has managed to put a tournament on before that.”

Snooker has not staged a tournament since Trump lifted his sixth ranking event of the season with a 4-3 win over Kyren Wilson at the Gibraltar Open on 15 March.

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Trump is in Group 2 and will meet Daniel Wells, Elliot Slessor and David Grace on the opening day of the event.

Selby begins his campaign on Thursday 4 June when he takes on Group 5 oppenents Liang Wenbo, Joe O'Connor and Lee Walker.

O'Sullivan has been drawn in Group 10 and will face Chris Wakelin, Michael Georgiou and Kishan Hirani on Friday 5 June.


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