Snooker: Hearn: Revamp can relaunch 'Rocket'

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The Independent Online

Barry Hearn is adamant the buzz has not disappeared here at the World Championship despite the elimination of the tournament favourite Ronnie O'Sullivan.

The "Rocket" fell to a surprise 13-11 defeat to Mark Selby on Wednesday evening. Not long after his quarter-final exit the three-times champion, hinted, not for the first time, that he was thinking of retiring. But Hearn, who challenged O'Sullivan to be his flag-bearer when he took over as the new World Snooker chairman in December, believes it is his responsibility to inspire O'Sullivan to rediscover his love for the sport.

Hearn aims to invigorate snooker much like he has done with darts in recent years – and he admits he needs O'Sullivan to be part of his plans. "My job is to inspire Ronnie and get him back in love with the game, and hopefully I can do that with the new tournaments we are looking to put on," Hearn said.

"Ultimately, what he does is his decision, and I think at the moment he is probably glad to get home to see his kids. I know Ronnie has been unhappy with his form – and maybe in one way there is some relief when he gets knocked out. It is torture for him when he is playing below his expectations, and at least that ends the torture."

Hearn has unveiled an "exciting" new calendar for next season with a new World Open and a ranking event in Berlin, as well as a "fun" one-frame shoot-out competition.

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