Ronnie O’Sullivan has slammed the poor quality of snooker’s next generation after beating China’s Ding Junhui to reach the World Championship quarter-finals.
O’Sullivan, a five-time world champion will play fellow veteran Mark Williams, for a place in the semi-finals at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre.
But after his 13-10 win against Ding, former world number one O’Sullivan said the current standard is so bad he would have to “lose an arm and a leg” to slip down the rankings.
O’Sullivan, 44, told the BBC: “If you look at the younger players coming through, they’re not that good really.
“Most of them would do well as half-decent amateurs, or not even amateurs they’re so bad a lot of them.
“A lot of them you see now, you think, I’ve probably got to lose an arm and a leg to fall outside the top 50. So that’s why we’re hovering around, because of how poor it is down that end.”
O’Sullivan, 45-year-old Williams and Scottish veteran John Higgins all turned professional 28 years ago and have gone on to dominate the sport.
They have won 13 world titles and 98 ranking tournaments between them while remaining the top 16 with few challengers emerging.
O’Sullivan has referred to lower-ranked rivals in disparaging terms as “numpties” in the past and he believes a lack of desire is one reason for the struggles of younger players.
The 44-year-old, who last won the world title in 2013, said: “When you’re younger you have all the hunger and desire but at some point you have to try to get yourself motivated, whether that’s taking the pressure off or getting another hobby or job.
“But while I’m still playing snooker I want to enjoy it. Whether I win or lose is kind of irrelevant at this stage of my career.”