Ronnie O’Sullivan is undoubtedly still snooker’s biggest draw. He’s as box office as they come. And this means that he is often left feeling he deserves more in the way of cash to appear at the various events on the snooker calendar. But, it will always come down to those running tournaments to decide whether they feel this should be the case.
The 2022 Nirvana Turkish Masters is on the horizon, with the event scheduled to run between the seventh and thirteenth of March in Antalya. It’s a ranking tournament, with a prize pool of £500,000 and the winner scooping £100,000. As the current world number two, you would naturally feel O’Sullivan would stand a great chance of winning, but it’s now been confirmed that The Rocket won’t be taking part in Antalya.
O'Sullivan, 46, has decided to snub the Turkish Masters, and, of course, it comes down to money. The six-time world champion wanted paying extra for playing at the tournament because he feels he is the sport's biggest attraction. He was prepared to play if he was in receipt of a substantial five-figure sum, but this hasn't been forthcoming.
The request for extra appearance money was delivered by O’Sullivan to those promoting the event in Antalya, using a similar tactic to the ones successful when negotiating with promotors in China and other places. But, this time, The Rocket didn’t get his own way, with the money men happy for the tournament to proceed without him.
O’Sullivan is renowned for his criticism of events in the UK that are held in leisure centres, but the Turkish Masters will take place in a luxury 5-star hotel in Antalya. It’s a point that has been noted by the WPBSA and its chairman Jason Ferguson. Snooker bosses are said to be rightfully “disappointed” at O’Sullivan’s decision to demand more money for his appearance and to then snub the ranking tournament when he didn’t get his own way.
While there has been quite the fallout since news broke of O’Sullivan’s decision, the man himself insists, “I don’t have any regrets about not being involved in the Turkish Masters.” He went on to add, “A five-star hotel on the beach isn’t going to entice me to get my cue out of my case and enter a new tournament.”
So, the action will go ahead without snooker's most significant start, and qualification is already underway. At the time of writing, the last sixty-four of the draw is being populated, ready for the seventh of March. It will be an excellent opportunity for those taking part to enjoy a well-run tournament in a luxurious setting and with a significant prize pool on the line. But, you can’t help feeling it would have been more fun if The Rocket was there, for both his skill on the baize and his antics away from the table.