No sequel for Ronnie O’Sullivan ahead of ‘definitive’ big screen debut
But there will be no sequel today as the seven-time world champion - the subject of a feature-length documentary Ronnie O’Sullivan: The Edge of Everything - has pulled out of his rematch with Sheffield-based Zhang Anda in the Champion of Champions event in Bolton.
Zhang, 31, caused a huge upset by beating O’Sullivan in the semi-finals of the International Championship in China on Saturday, before claiming his maiden ranking title 24 hours later and a £175,000 top prize.
Victory saw him edge out compatriot Ding Junhui for a top 16 Champions spot in Lancashire, and an early chance for O’Sullivan - the defending champion - to gain revenge.
But O’Sullivan announced he was withdrawing from the tournament on Tuesday.
“Hi guys, just wanted to let you know I’m unfortunately withdrawing from the Champions of champions event tomorrow,” he said on X. “Mentally I feel a bit drained and stressed and I want to look after my mental health and my body. I’m sorry to all the fans but I’ll be back stronger.”
O’Sullivan has been replaced in the draw by Ding – who like Zhang lives in Sheffield – in their opening match in Bolton .
For Zhang - who has lived in Sheffield since 2016 when he joined Victoria’s Snooker Academy - victory in China was reward for battling to regain his place on snooker’s main tour, after considering quitting the sport during Covid’s lockdown.
“He is a fantastic player, I don’t know where he has been for the last ten years,” said O’Sullivan after his weekend defeat to Zhang, who also reached the final of last month’s English Open.
“He played well and deserved to win. He was the better player on the day, so fair play to him. I expected him to be like that as I’ve played him a few times, he was solid.
“Each match I win nowadays is one of the best wins of my life, because I’m old. I’ve been around a long time,” said the 47-year-old.
“I’m not getting better and if anything I’m not the player I was. Players are all striving to achieve, young and hungry. It is harder now. Normally I would win tournaments quite easily and wouldn’t drop many frames even against the top players. It is tough now. I enjoy any win I get.
“Every occasion is a good one when I play, so it doesn’t matter who I am against really. I’ve always had good crowds, every match I have played is a big one. People want to beat me and take me down. I’ve had to deal with that all of my life so I’ve never played a match which isn’t a big one.”
Which is probably why it is no surprise that one of sport’s most iconic players is the focus of this new documentary, from filmmaker Sam Blair, which will premier next week in selected cinemas, and released on Prime Video from next Thursday.
It covers his Crucible triumph in 2021, but also goes behind the scenes and charts his success from a teenager to snooker’s greatest ever player.
O’Sullivan said: “My highs and lows have been well-documented by the media but I felt like now was the right time to do something more definitive - something that I can look back and reflect on as I contemplate retirement.
“Going into my 7th World Championship I wasn’t sure I had it in me but allowing the cameras in ended up driving me on in many ways and gave me a different perspective.”
There are interviews with people inside O’Sullivan’s inner circle - like Damien Hirst, The Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood, plus snooker greats Jimmy White and Stephen Hendry.
“Throughout the making of this film, Ronnie allowed his charisma, complexities and contradictions appear naturally—he was profoundly himself, raw and unfiltered, and that made the often awkward and complicated situation of making a film simple for me,” said Blair.
“My job, as I explained to Ronnie, was to do justice to his story and his experience, and to do that we had to find ways for the audience to grasp the full bandwidth of his experience—from rapture to meltdown.
“I see the film as a collaboration with Ronnie to achieve that aim, and I think its power is that we get to see that full range unfold in the present tense. It is a film about a great artist at work, but also about a person struggling with themselves and the factors in their life that are out of their control.”
The film joins Prime Video’s collection of exclusive sports documentaries and docuseries including: All or Nothing: Arsenal, We Are Newcastle United, That Peter Crouch Film, Rooney, Ben Stokes: Phoenix from the Ashes, Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In, and more.
Ronnie O’Sullivan: The Edge of Everything is available exclusively in cinemas across UK & Ireland on November 21 and launches on Prime Video on November 23. Theatrical release includes LIVE Q&A featuring Ronnie and very special guests.