Cues and Balls: They’re having a good time at the table


2023-02-24 15:42:00

This is not an advertising or PR article, as there is no need to promote it, because all tickets for next week’s snooker concert are already sold out in advance, it is just trying to explain: why is a pub sport invading Hungary?

4,500 viewers can’t be wrong. That’s how many people will be watching the Gerevich Aladár National Gym arena, where the greatest player of all time, Ronnie O’Sullivan, will be one of the stars of Hungary’s Snooker Gala celebration. So many spectators do not even meet at Felcsút, though if they are somewhere, they certainly deserve to be there after spending so much public money.

Next week’s snooker gala will certainly be special: after a three-year hiatus, the greats of the sport will return to Budapest, which will be relevant because, given the high interest, there will be not two, but three shows, bringing together 4,500 spectators (all bought the tickets).

Five years ago, three devoted snooker fans, Gabor Weber, Balaz Csurgo and Gabor Bouzas, had the idea that they must take action if the sport attracts a discerning, elite crowd in the happiest part of the world. Because snooker is a technical sport, like darts or poker, it is less age-related than other elite sports. The elegant appearance and age-oldness of the hall during concerts only add to the mystery surrounding the sport. Here, it cannot happen that two fans fall in love with each other because someone does not support their favourite. This year Winston Churchill said of another favorite game of the English, that golf is the sport in which a very small ball is sent into an even smaller hole by the use of an instrument wholly unsuitable for the purpose. Well, snooker is the same, only at the table. The balls must be put in the correct order into one of the holes using a long, thin “stick” called a cue, and whoever succeeds in doing this faster and more often wins.

The first ceremony in 2017 was such a resounding success that even the directors were surprised by the amount of interest: opening with a global star, 2010 world champion Neil Robertson and two-time world championship runner-up Ali Carter greeted the audience.

Opening up shop, the same year the organizers shook things up again, came retired six-time world champion Steve Davis, who enjoyed tricks and stories as well as the traditional game of snooker. His partner at the time was the “only” two-time world champion Mark Williams, who won the world championship after an appearance in Budapest, thus becoming a three-time champion.

Seven months later, former six-time world champion, “The People’s Champion” Jimmy White, and 2005 world champion Shaun Murphy were the main characters. The ceremony turned into an evening to remember, Murphy produced two breaks of maximum 147 intervals to the delight of the ecstatic home crowd.

The fourth ceremony stepped up: not two, but four stars arrived in Budapest: In January 2019, Judd Trump came to the table as a new Masters winner, along with 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham, as well as Jack Lisowski and Luca Bressel. Trump, like Williams, won the world championship in the months following the performance in Budapest.

This year’s program will go beyond this level, the main character of the program with the subtitle “Snooker at the Maximum” will be the best snooker player in the world, Ronnie O’Sullivan: he is also the current world champion and world number one. At the same time. He is shared by Mark Allen, who is by far the best player this season, having already won three tournaments since August 2022, including one of the Triple Crown stops, the UK Championship.

O’Sullivan, nicknamed the Rocket, also holds a nearly unbreakable record: he has the fastest breaking max time of 5 minutes and 20 seconds. However, the Englishman not only racks up records, he was clearly the most famous snooker player for thirty years. Wherever he appears, a Full House is guaranteed, dazzling the audience with entertaining, sly, and often unpredictable solutions. Now you just have to bring yourself.

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