The worlds of pool and snooker seldom collide in a competitive environment. Gone are the days that Steve Davis, Jimmy White and Ronnie O’Sullivan would compete at the Mosconi Cup, although even without the presence of talented cue-masters of the snooker arena, Europe have triumphed over the USA in the last three tournaments.
O’Sullivan declared that he could end his snooker career in a lure of opportunities elsewhere. Indeed, his TV series American Hustle suggested that could be poised for a future in the pool environment.
A move to pool would present a dramatic shift in the career of the 41-year-old, who has won the World Championship five times during his career, with the oddsmakers in online sports betting with immersive experience backing him at odds of +500.00 to win it again in 2018.
On the surface, O’Sullivan has the perfect personality for the sport and his interaction with nine-ball legend Earl Strickland in the aforementioned series hinted that he would bring drama and a sense of theater to the sport. The Englishman triumphed over the American in their meeting at the Mosconi Cup in 1996, although Europe lost the event.
Whether a permanent move to pool would start a revolution of players leaving the 22-ball game is another matter. The prestige of snooker, especially in the United Kingdom, is considered the ultimate challenge. The lure of prize money and the gravitas of the titles are considered greater, but the attributes needed in both disciplines are similar.
Pool has a shortened format and draws on a different skill set. Power is an essential tool for pool players to take command of the contest from the off. Ability to apply pressure with a strong break, opening up the rest of balls into a potting position allows players to dominate and take the frame completely out of their opponents.
That skill is rarely used in snooker when the two players are aiming for a slow build, although perfecting the power shot can make or break success. There’s usually one important shot in the terms of the frame when a competitor aims to open up the pack of reds. The ability to split the pack can reduce the difficulty of shots around the table, allowing the player to manoeuvre the cue ball into manageable positions for a high break.
The addition of a time clock has called on players to be decisive in their decision-making. Pool has the benefit of being straightforward due to the fewer amount of balls on the table. Being able to assess a situation on the table and proceed at speed is a skill that is transferable for pool players making the transition to snooker.
Players coming through the ranks may well have started their career on pool tables rather than its counterpart due to the accessibility in bars and clubs. Pool has the benefit of wider pockets, allowing players to develop their potting skills on more forgivable tables. The cream of the crop are able to slowly improve their level of skill, hitting the middle of the pocket rather than rattling the jaws.
Snooker tables are less forgiving, particular due to the increased size of the tables and the smaller pockets. Perfecting the skills of angle analysis and hitting the middle of the pockets is a crucial element of a well-rounded game that players of both sports.