In one of the more shocking results in recent snooker memory, consensus best player in the world (and potential G.O.A.T.) Ronnie O’Sullivan was knocked out of the 2019 World Snooker Championship in the very first round by James Cahill, an unranked amateur player.
O’Sullivan looked despondent after the defeat (his first time failing to get to the second round of the tournament since 2003), stating that he had been under the weather but that he’s actually carried a lighter workload than other players on tour, so he’s not using that as an excuse for the loss to Cahill:
“I felt shattered, drained, had no energy,” O’Sullivan said after the match. “I feel horrendous, to be honest with you. All my limbs are feeling heavy.” He added that he’d been feeling ill for a few weeks and that he hadn’t been sleeping well in recent days.
The snooker community has not cut O’Sullivan any slack for not feeling well during the historic loss. Former world champion and BBC pundit Ken Doherty was disappointed with O’Sullivan’s demeanor during Monday’s first session, telling the BBC that O’Sullivan “played very casually, it was almost with a lot of disrespect in a way. He didn’t want to be there, didn’t look like he fancied the job.”
Similarly, six-time world champion Steve Davis piled on afterwards, saying that O’Sullivan went overboard on his trademark attacking style, to a fault: “He was bailing out in some shots just by attacking all the time. He’s an attacking player but when you are attacking so much it almost goes the opposite way. It’s sort of like you’re hoping to be knocked out, in a strange way.” Davis also said he feels the loss might motivate O’Sullivan to keep playing as he chases Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world titles. (O’Sullivan has five, and will have to wait at least another year to inch closer to the record.)
With O’Sullivan out of the way once again (he hasn’t made it to the quarter-finals since 2014), the odds now shift in favor of 2010 winner Neil Robertson and three-time champion Mark Selby. As for Cahill, he’s not taking his historic victory for granted, telling the BBC, “I have always believed in myself and that I can beat anyone on my day. I want to show what I can do now.”