Judd Trump believes Louis Heathcote’s ‘incredible’ moment of snooker sorcery was a shot in the arm for the sport’s visibility, writes Will Jennings.
And the world No.1 is calling on the game’s younger players to embrace their potting flair in a desperate bid to enhance snooker’s public profile.
World No.67 Heathcote soared to viral internet fame last week with an astonishing piece of baize escapology in his World Championship qualifier against Ryan Day.
The 23-year-old, 43-40 down against the Welshman in frame eight, was snookered on the yellow but deliberately struck the cue ball against the jaws of the bottom right pocket to miraculously get out of jail.
The 31-year-old, who kicks off his pursuit of a second world title against Liam Highfield today [Tuesday April 20], said: “His shot was a little bit different and it was incredible for it to go in.
“A lot of the public don’t know the difference if you’re going for it or not going for it.
“Any attention like that [is good for the game] – anything like that can be perceived as ‘maybe Louis was trying to play it’ and stuff like that.
“It’s incredible to get the attention from different celebrities and people on social media who don’t normally watch snooker.
“It’s good for everyone – and Louis is a player who has got a big future in the game.
“Generally the younger players are the most fluent and attacking and look like they’re enjoying the game.
“A few players as they get older, they try a little bit too hard and put a little bit too much effort in.
“You’ve got to enjoy it – you don’t want to be playing around for 20 or 30 years not enjoying yourself. You may as well go and get another job.
“You see it with Ronnie [O’Sullivan], he’s going out and having a good time, me having a good time playing, it’s when you play your best snooker.
“At the end of the day, there would be nor tournaments if people started rolling up to balls all the time and taking 35 seconds a shot – they’d be playing for nothing.”
Heathcote lost that match against Day and was unable to seal a Crucible debut but Trump starts his pursuit of a second Sheffield glory against world No.49 Highfield this afternoon.
The Ace in the Pack has enjoyed a stunning couple of years on the snooker circuit and has followed up his six ranking event titles last year with five more victories this term.
By his own high standards, Trump’s form has dipped of late – he lost 10-7 to Barry Hawkins in the quarter-finals of the Tour Championship – but the planet’s best player is relishing a crack at the Crucible as crowds finally return.
Fans will flock to Sheffield in increased numbers as the tournament progresses and Trump, who went down to Kyren Wilson in the quarter-finals last year, added: “I’m just excited to play in the World Championship.
“It’s been nice to get my mind right for this tournament and I’m excited to get playing again.
“The World Championship is always as special event and is the first event for a while with a bit of positive news around, so hopefully it will be a special World Championship.
“To play in the World Championship is special but to have fans back going up every round is going to be a different challenge for everyone.
“You’re not going to want to miss out on that atmosphere.”
Watch the World Snooker Championship live on Eurosport and Eurosport app from April 17- May 3
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