Ronnie O’Sullivan announced today on social media that he will be entering the Shanghai Masters and International Championship this year in China.
The Englishman, who is yet to play competitively this season, was last in action at the World Championship where he lost to Barry Hawkins in a dramatic second round clash at the Crucible.
O’Sullivan’s frequent hiatuses from the sport are well-known, as is his usual disdain for travelling outside the United Kingdom to compete.
Indeed, the 40 year-old failed to venture much during the last term as he didn’t get any farther from home than Sheffield.
China has tended to be off the agenda for much of the last half a dozen years as the five-time world champion suits his own schedule around media gigs, jaunts to America, and his love of running.
Even when he did enter a comp in Asia his head was rarely adjusted to the altered time zone and it wasn’t unusual for him to suffer a shock defeat amid a mediocre showing.
Victories in China then have been limited with his last triumph in the country coming almost seven years ago in Shanghai itself.
O’Sullivan earlier tweeted: “I’ll be playing in Shanghai in September and also entering International in Daqing in October. Will be great to see the Chinese fans again.”
Now, don’t get too excited, because there have previously been many occasions where the ‘Rocket’ has at the last moment hastily retracted his intent to take part and withdrawn with the help of a doctor’s note – be warned.
Yet, it’s likely that he will at least fulfill these two promises as he further messaged “I’ll be working as an advisor and helping with promotion for the Heylongjiang Daqing International Open.”
I’m sure he meant International Championship, but it’s a start at least.
That said, while qualification for Shanghai is guaranteed as a member of the top 16, the flat draw International Championship ensures that he’ll have to first come through a preliminary round in England before any potential trip to Daqing.
As ever, though, it’ll be good to see O’Sullivan back on our screens as, like or loathe him, he always adds extra spice to a tournament and any event is richer for his presence.
He also admitted after his World Championship loss that he probably didn’t play enough last season so it will be interesting to see how the early competition will affect his performances throughout the campaign.
Before all that, Irish fans have a chance to see the former world no.1 in action as he takes on Judd Trump at Goffs for the Eleven 30 exhibition series on August 20th.
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