Ronnie O’Sullivan has stunned the snooker world with a brutally honest assessment of the sport’s next generation.
The snooker legend launched a savage attack on his younger rivals on Sunday after advancing to a World Championship quarter-final clash with fellow veteran Mark Williams.
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After claiming a 13-10 win over Ding Junhui in a session which saw seven consecutive half-century breaks, O’Sullivan insisted the standard is so bad he would have to “lose an arm and a leg” to slip down the rankings.
“If you look at the younger players coming through, they're not that good really,” O'Sullivan, 44, told the BBC.
“Most of them would do well as half-decent amateurs, or not even amateurs they're so bad a lot of them.
“A lot of them you see now, you think, cor, I've probably got to lose an arm and a leg to fall outside the top 50.
“So that's why we're hovering around - because of how poor it is down that end.”
Five-time world champion O’Sullivan, who has repeatedly referred to lower-ranked players as “numpties”, narrowly missed back-to-back centuries as he rounded off victory with breaks of 117 and 93.
“When you're younger you have all the hunger and desire but at some point you have to try to get yourself motivated, whether that's taking the pressure off or getting another hobby or job,” the world No.6 said.
“But while I'm still playing snooker I want to enjoy it. Whether I win or lose is kind of irrelevant at this stage of my career.”
Fans and pundits flocked to social media after O’Sulivan’s interview, with many calling it “savage” and “brutal.”
Ronnie O'Sullivan is SAVAGE 🔥 https://t.co/A05wojvPvz— Joanna Gasiorowska (@JoGasiorowska) August 9, 2020
Ooft that interview with Ronnie O’Sullivan was savage.— Danielle C (@Dani1987CBLM) August 9, 2020
It's not honesty, it's mind games and bullying. He's a bully, that's obvious, and a sore loosed too.— Phil (@RedLlwynog) August 9, 2020
He's still the best snooker player ever though, but he is, like most of us horribly flawed.
Have you noticed how everyone's scared of him?? They all crawl up his arse.
This is savage AF and borderline disrespectful...but he’s spot on. I’ve seen more pots this year not even make the jaws of the pocket than ever before.— Wezzer™ (@wes_monelle) August 9, 2020
He's telling the truth. It's the same in tennis. The older players are still dominating the game.— Rob Taylor (@tigertaylor1967) August 9, 2020
He's got a point. Not that I'm near professional in any sport myself, but what do you expect? His quality takes 1000s of hours of effort, that young people probably aren't putting in nowadays. They get told they're class already, or they get distracted by technology, drugs etc— Alex (@alex__beckett) August 9, 2020
Neil Robertson narrowly makes quarter-finals
Meanwhile, Aussie star Neil Robertson pulled away from Barry Hawkins to win 13-9 and keep alive his hopes of winning a second world crown.
The left-handed Victorian came racing out of the blocks to take the first three frames after the restart before Hawkins hit back with a break of 104 to reduce the deficit to 11-9.
However, Robertson eased to victory to set-up an enticing last-eight clash with England's Selby.
The Australian world No.2 won the world title in 2010.
This year's delayed tournament because of the coronavirus pandemic means the usual spring slot of April-May has been pushed back to July-August in the summer.
And it seems to have affected the playing conditions at the Crucible.
“The table is playing very heavy, it is very humid out there and it does not feel like playing at Sheffield,” Robertson said.
“It feels like playing in Asia and it is tough to screw the ball back.”
Other quarter-final match-ups will pit world No.1 Judd Trump against fellow Englishman Kyren Wilson while Norwegian Kurt Maflin will face Anthony McGill or Jamie Clarke.