World number 11 Kyren Wilson was in Lommel this week looking ahead to the European Masters, and he believes the tournament will be a great success in the Belgian city.
Former Shanghai Masters champion Wilson attended a press conference in Lommel to launch the event which will run from October 2 to 8. It will be the first full ranking tournament in Belgium for 23 years.
Wilson won the gold medal at the recent World Games in Poland
World Champion Mark Selby, defending champion Judd Trump, John Higgins, Neil Robertson and local favourite Luca Brecel will be among the top stars heading to Lommel to compete for the trophy and £75,000 top prize.
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Wilson said: “There is clearly potential for this event to grow, there is a buzz around the city because professional snooker has never been here before. When I saw this one come up on the calendar I was very determined to qualify and make sure of my place in Lommel.
“We had the PTC events in Antwerp a few years ago and they were a great success. I speak on behalf of every player in the tournament when I say we are very excited to be coming back to Belgium. It’s great to come to new places and hopefully I’ll be here for the full week in October.
“I have had a look around the venue, it looks fantastic and I hope it will be full for the event. Fans around Europe are very appreciative of our sport and they understand the game.
“I have always enjoyed playing in Belgium. I remember as a junior playing in an under-21 event in Genk – my parents drove me there but they got Ghent and Genk mixed up. So we got to Ghent and the sat-nav was saying we had arrived but we couldn’t find a snooker club. Eventually we realised the mistake and we had to drive 100 kilometres back down the road to Genk. That’s why I flew to Lommel today!”
Wilson, who is due to become a father for the second time within the next two weeks, was also asked about his career ambitions.
“I’m not here to make up the numbers,” said the 25-year-old. “I don’t want to look back on my career in 20 years time and feel I could have done more. Unless I reach world number one and World Champion I will be disappointed. I’m not here to be a journeyman pro, I want my kids to think I was a bit of a legend! I have decided to play in as many tournaments as possible this season. It’s so difficult to win a title these days that I believe you have to give yourself as many chances as possible.”
World Snooker director Brandon Parker added: “A crucial part of our sport’s overall strategy is to develop snooker in Europe, especially by holding professional events. We look for partners who can help us achieve our goals. It was very clear to me when I came to Lommel that the city has an appreciation for sport, and I could see the energy and the forward thinking of the people I met. I could also see that the venue and its facilities were ideal for our event.
“The Belgian people are very positive about snooker, and the sport is very strong here at grass roots level. There is a lot of potential to develop our sport here.
“The combination of these factors give me no doubt that the European Masters will be successful here and hopefully the tournament will find its home in Lommel.
“We have seen the German Masters at the Tempodrom in Berlin develop as an iconic event, and I can see something very similar being possible here.”
Mayor of Lommel Peter Vanvelthoven said: “This year we have hosted a lot of sporting events and I am very happy to add snooker’s European Masters, and in fact we would put it at the top of the list as our major event. I hope it will be a fabulous tournament. We want to do our best to keep this event in Belgium.”
Alderman of Sports of Lommel Jasmine Vangrieken added: “I’d like to thank World Snooker for choosing Lommel. The European Masters will give the Belgian fans the chance to see top snooker players live in a ranking event for the first time in 23 years.”