O’Sullivan is in the second season of a two-year tour card, but he faces a battle to retain his place on the circuit. The 29-year-old currently finds himself in 81st position in the world rankings.
However, after a tricky start to the campaign at the BetVictor Championship League, he enjoyed a landmark moment at the recent qualifiers. Although O’Sullivan lost 5-2 against Barry Hawkins, he fired in the first maximum break of his career and the 190th in the history of professional snooker in the process.
Looking back on the break it was a special moment for O’Sullivan, who hopes he can use it as inspiration to push his career forward.
O’Sullivan said: “I’ve struggled a bit with my confidence lately. I haven’t had this cue for very long. Going into the Championship League, I didn’t know what to expect and it couldn’t have gone any worse really. I played really badly. I had a couple of weeks where I didn’t leave the club. I made the most of my time, played all day every day. Just as much as I physically could to get used to the cue. I started again and had a fresh slate and I completely forgot about what happened before. I was obviously gutted not to beat Barry. However, I had a moment of magic that I was more than happy with. That gives me that little bit of confidence I need. I know that if I really keep pushing myself then I can play some decent snooker.
“Having the video of the 147 is brilliant. My mum and dad were over the moon with it. When I walked out of the arena I was thinking that they’d have been going mental at home. It is nice to have that to look back on. It was a little bit out of the blue, especially with the new cue. I’ll take it and use it for momentum going forward.”
O’Sullivan’s break wasn’t without jeopardy. After falling out of position when potting the 15th red he was left with an extremely thin black with the extended rest. O’Sullivan deposited that and another tricky yellow to set up the perfect clearance.
It was a contribution which made up for a near miss at World Championship qualifying against David Grace. O’Sullivan crafted a total clearance with all reds and blacks, but fell short on 140. This was because he inadvertently potted two reds at once.
“I actually thought about that. I remember thinking that I can make up for that near miss. It kind of helped me to focus on it rather than thinking of the bigger picture and the pressure of a 147. I tricked my mind into thinking it wasn’t a big deal. I was just trying to rectify that break from Sheffield. I think it helped me to get the job done in the end.
“It certainly made it more memorable. I think I’d have preferred to have not butchered the 15th red and just got nicely on the black. People will probably talk about it more because of that shot. I think I played three shots on a row from that 15th black and I don’t think many people will have done that before. I didn’t care how I did it as long as I did it. That will give me belief if nothing else.
“After potting the last red, I thought I was going to have no shot at all and I was gutted. However, the white just clipped the black to straighten up a little bit and give me the tiniest chance. I thought I could maybe cut it in. You could replicate that shot one hundred times and not get it. Luckily for me it happened when I needed it to.”
The Cazoo British Open draw has handed O’Sullivan an intriguing clash with defending champion Ryan Day next month. He’s looking forward to the occasion and ready to hit the practice table hard to ensure he is ready. However, when asked about his broader tour survival situation he was keeping himself in the moment.
“I always look forward to games like that. Being a lower ranked player you aren’t on the TV too often. It will be brilliant playing the current champion and I have a bit of time to prepare for it and I will be working hard. I’ll be as ready as I can be and give it as good of a go as possible.
“I’m trying not to think about it too much. If you get too detailed you can get yourself in trouble. I’ll go into every tournament looking to have a good run and see how each one goes. I used to look at the rankings and figure out what I needed. There is no point doing that. Just winning every game you can simplifies everything. It might help me to enjoy snooker a bit more rather than stressing. The game is hard enough as it is.”