Ronnie O’Sullivan launched a savage attack on snooker’s next generation after beating Ding Junhui to book a World Championship quarter-final clash against fellow veteran Mark Williams.
After claiming a 13-10 win 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.
O’Sullivan, 44, told the BBC: “If you look at the younger players coming through, they’re not that good really.
“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.”
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.
He added: “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.
“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.”
Kyren Wilson claimed Judd Trump already deserves his status as one of snooker’s all-time greats as the pair moved to thaw their previously frosty rivalry ahead of the start of their own quarter-final clash on Monday.
Wilson, who was handed a first-round bye following the withdrawal of Anthony Hamilton, withstood a stirring fightback from 11-5 down by Martin Gould to triumph 13-9 and reach the last eight for the fifth time.
The pair’s relationship soured after Wilson won a final-frame decider to clinch the 2015 Shanghai Masters title, and blew up again at the 2018 Champion of Champions when Trump responded to Wilson apparently questioning his commitment by snapping, “He (Wilson) probably needs more practice than me.”
But after seeing off Gould, Wilson insisted: “Judd is world number one and he’s won the ‘triple crown’ now. I think once you’ve got a triple crown under your belt you can go down in the greatest list, and that’s obviously my aim.
“I’ve proved myself over long formats against Judd before and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m sure Judd can handle all the pressure because he’s been there and done it before. I’ve just got to focus on what I need to do to beat him.”
After holding his nerve in his own last-16 thriller against Yan Bingtao, Trump revealed he now had no problems with Wilson, whom he tipped to go on and challenge for the title in future years.
“I think it (the rivalry) was a bit built up,” insisted Trump. “There’s no needle any more – we’ll never be best friends, but we get on. I’m sure Kyren will be in the world final one day with a chance to win it.”
Gould had worried Wilson by reeling off the first three frames of the morning and should have had a fourth until a calamitous error left the 28-year-old with a free ball and the chance to clear from three snookers and eventually wrap up victory.
Neil Robertson pulled away from Barry Hawkins to keep alive his hopes of winning a second world crown.
The Australian, who will play Mark Selby in the quarter-finals, resumed at 8-8 and pounced on some uncharacteristic errors from Hawkins to take the first three frames of the session.
Hawkins reduced the deficit with a superb break of 104 but Robertson restored his lead with a 79 despite the black being out of service, then seized a second chance in the next frame to complete a 13-9 win.
Anthony McGill booked his first appearance in the quarter-finals since 2015 after a dramatic 13-12 win over fellow qualifier Jamie Clarke.
The pair, who were involved in a furious exchange on Saturday when McGill accused the Welshman of deliberately standing in his line of sight, had exchanged frames to reach 10-10.
Clarke missed a pink which would have effectively sealed victory in the 24th frame, and McGill – who had trailed 8-2 earlier in the match – nudged over the line in the decider.
Referring to the incident on Saturday, McGill told Eurosport: “It turned into something that it should have never been.
“I asked him politely if he wouldn’t mind sitting down, and he took it the wrong way and it all started another thing.
“I didn’t mean anything by it. We just had a hug there in the dressing room. I’ve known him for 15 years. I’ve got nothing against Jamie – he just took it the wrong way.”