Ronnie O’Sullivan suffers embarrassing start to new snooker season | Other | Sport

It was anything but a smooth start to the 2024/25 season for Ronnie O’Sullivan after he was dumped out of the Championship League Snooker tournament in the group stages. The 48-year-old was widely expect to ease into top spot after being drawn in Group 2 with amateur Kayden Brierley, Mitchell Mann and He Guoqiang.

And things seemed to be going to script when he brushed aside Brierley 3-0, compelling three half-century breaks in the process.

But O’Sullivan was then held to a 2-2 draw with Mann, leaving him needing a win over Gougiang to progress.

The Chinese player, ranked No.66 in the world, proceeded to dominate though. Breaks of 80, 77, and 57 were enough to not only whitewash his more esteemed opponent, but also see him finish as group winner.

O’Sullivan finished third, making a mockery of his position as pre-tournament favourite. And his poor showing comes just a month after casting doubt on how many appearances he would make in UK tournaments this season.

“There are only so many days I allow myself to be away from home,” he said, after being knocked out of the World Championships in Sheffield. “World Snooker is a commercial business and I decided I had to be commercial to enjoy being on the Tour.

“I don’t just turn up to events, there is a tax to be paid and if people are prepared to pay it I will get my cue out of its case. If not I am content to never ever play again and do other stuff.”

It was the first time O’Sullivan has been in action since failing to win an unprecedented eight world title in Sheffield this year. ‘The Rocket’ made the quarter-final stage, but was beaten 13-10 by Stuart Bingham.

But he wasn’t the only iconic name to endure a tough tournament. Last year saw John Higgins win the ranking event for the first time, beating Judd Trump in the final.

The Scot however, failed to progress this time around. Despite beating Latvian rookie Artemijs Zizins 3-0 in his opening game, defeats to Ben Mertens and Ma Hailong sealed his fate.

Mark Williams, Ali Carter and Neil Robertson were among the big names who topped their groups at the Leicester Arena. The event features 128 players and is being played as three rounds of round‑robin groups of four, before a best‑of‑five final.

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