Describing the World Championship as his “least favourite”, Ronnie O’Sullivan took to Twitter and told followers: “Crucible goes on too long… plus I’ve got plenty [of] ranking points, so no need to play as much. Crucible is boring plus I’ve ticked that box five times.”
Is Ronnie right? Those betting online on this year's edition of the World Snooker Championship will hope he turns up in Sheffield come the spring, as The Rocket is favourite to win it yet again with bookmakers. Here are three things World Snooker could consider to shake things up at The Crucible.
Bring back a big bonus for a 147 clearance
O’Sullivan made snooker history at the 1997 World Championship when recording the fastest ever competitive maximum break. The Rocket truly lived up to his nickname when he whizzed around The Crucible sinking a 147 in just five minutes and 20 seconds.
Back in those days, a maximum came with a £147,000 bonus. The prize for a total clearance was just £5,000 at The Crucible in 2017. Is there a danger World Snooker are offering an inadequate reward and even inadvertently discouraging players from going for a 147?
Although there have now been over 130 maximum breaks in competitive snooker, it still generates huge excitement. Just ten 147s have happened during the TV stages of the World Snooker Championship with O’Sullivan responsible for three of those – a record he shares with fellow modern era green baize great Stephen Hendry.
Bringing back a big bonus for recording a total clearance would add extra incentive to encourage attacking play at The Crucible. More maximums will certainly get the crowd on their feet.
Introduce a shot clock
Opponents of The Rocket have got plenty of joy by bogging him down in lengthy tactical battles over the years. While safety play has its fans and is an undisputed part of the game, it can drag frames of snooker out unnecessarily and frustrate attack-minded potters.
Matches lasting long into the night with the audience falling asleep are probably best left in the smoke of snooker’s past. The success of the shot clock in the one-frame Snooker Shoot Out – now a ranking event – has proved a novel innovation.
Players must strike the cue ball within 15 seconds during the first five minutes of Shoot-Out matches and within 10 seconds in the last five minutes of a frame. This requires quick thinking, speed and accuracy in both shots and getting around the snooker table.
Although limiting the amount of time players can take would be a drastic change to the current World Snooker Championship rules, it could be considered for bigger tournaments like it in the future.
Reduce the number of frames needed to win Crucible matches
In the current format at The Crucible, players need to win 71 frames over five rounds during the TV stages to be crowned world champion. That is a lot of snooker.
The semis and final are best of 33 and 35 frame affairs respectively, with the decisive match happening after a fortnight of green baize battles in Sheffield. It remains a gruelling slog that requires supreme mental strength.
While it could be argued reducing the number of frames needed to win World Snooker Championship matches would be attacking the traditions of The Crucible, which remains the event's home until at least 2027, as a long-haul event, it would give the players more rest.
It remains to be seen whether all, some or fewer of these suggestions are adopted by World Snooker in the years to come.