Snooker: Beaten King blasts 'tool' O'Sullivan
PUBLISHED: 14:00 23 November 2017
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Mark King's ongoing feud with Ronnie O'Sullivan may have reached boiling point after the Romford potter labelled the five-time world champion a 'tool'.
No love has ever been lost on or off the table between the two since their junior days, with King seemingly having the last word when coming from 4-1 down to win 5-4 in their German Masters meeting this year.
But as the defence of his Dafabet Northern Ireland Open came to an end, King ramped up the war of words once again.
O’Sullivan has come under fire for calling lower-ranked players on the tour ‘numpties’ in recent weeks, a label that certainly got under the skin of world No.21 King in Belfast, where he was defending champion for the first time in a ranking tournament.
“If I had one grudge to bear I feel like normally defending champion goes on first game, and I was on second at about 10pm,” said King.
“Then in the next game I was on at 10am, with no TV, then again today at 10am with no TV.
“And you just feel like if you’re not Ronnie, you are brushed aside. He is the greatest player we have ever had, but you don’t see him on roll-on, roll-off.
“He has a scheduled match time, seems to play at times when he wants to play and asks to play on certain days.
“We are all in the same boat, all trying to earn a living – and all that numpty crap is just that, crap.
“He was a numpty once and it shows disrespect for your peers. I have respect for all tour players, even the ones that can’t make a 50 break.
“No-one is a numpty, and he is a tool if you ask me.”
Last year’s Belfast champion King saw the defence of his crown come to an end at the hands of Yan Bingtao, as he was defeated 4-1 at the Waterfront Hall by an impressive display from the 17-year-old Chinese prodigy.
It brought to an end an emotional year for the Essex cueman, a player with barely two coins to rub together before last year’s £70,000 success.
Revelling in his new-found poster-boy status, playing his last shot therefore provided a bittersweet and entirely new experience for a man 26 years as a professional.
But in Yan he more than met his match, breaks of 79 and 51 doing the damage, as the Chinese cueman raced into a 3-0 lead before seeing out the victory.
“It’s a bit sad when your reign ends but the experience of defending my first ranking title was great overall,” he added.
“It has been an amazing year as champion of this tournament. I felt as though I only missed the odd ball here and there and hit the ball a lot better. The yellow in the second frame was important and I gave myself a tough shot.
“There were a couple of moments that could have changed it but he’s a very good player, you get your chances but I didn’t really take them until 3-0.
“Coming back to try and defend my title, I tried my absolute best and it wasn’t enough, but I’ll get on that plane and hold my head up high before moving on to the UK Championship.”
*Watch the Northern Ireland Open LIVE on Eurosport, Eurosport Player and Quest with Colin Murray and daily studio analysis with Neal Foulds.