World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn believes young snooker players are “settling for second best.”
Judd Trump, 28, and Ding Junhui, 31, have won many other events, but neither has managed to land the coveted World Championship title in Sheffield.
John Higgins and Mark Williams, with a combined age of 85, contested this year’s showpiece.
“Kids today are soft and getting softer because life is sweeter and prize money for failure is better,” Hearn said.
“If I was a player who hadn’t won the world title I’d be spending a long time looking in the mirror and saying, ‘Why?’
“In every other sport it goes younger, and yet we’ve got a 42-year-old and a 43-year-old in the final in what is the toughest field we’ve probably assembled.”
Trump and 26-year-old Kyren Wilson were the only players in their twenties to reach the quarter-finals of this year’s Championship, Trump losing to Higgins 13-12 in the quarter-finals and Wilson beaten by the veteran Scotsman for the second year running.
Higgins and Williams have now made 11 appearances between them in the final and Hearn added: “If I was a young player now, or a Ding Junhui, I’d be looking in the mirror and asking myself some very pertinent questions about what I’m doing wrong.
“Is it lifestyle? Am I too soft? Has the money in the game, which has gone up phenomenally, spoilt me? Has it taken the edge off my game? Have I settled for being good but not great?
“When Mark Williams says he was teetering on the brink in his semi-final, he was still hard enough to pot the balls.
“So I think it’s a question of character more than ability, it’s a question of lifestyle more than potting, and they’ve got to say, ‘These guys aren’t going to change, maybe I’m the one that needs to change’.”
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