Recently crowned BetVictor European Masters champion Kyren Wilson hopes that he can use his victory in Fürth as a platform for further success this season.
The win ended a mini ranking title drought for the Kettering cueman, who had gone two years without lifting ranking silverware. It was his fifth ranking crown in total, three of which have come in Germany.
The Warrior’s victim in the final was Barry Hawkins, who was himself bidding to end an extended period without winning a ranking title. His last victory came back in 2017 at the World Grand Prix. In the end it was Wilson who prevailed a comfortable 9-3 victor.
We’ve caught up with 30-year-old Wilson, to discuss what the win means going forward and reflect on his title winning week…
First of all Kyren, how much did you enjoy the week and do you feel it could act as an important catalyst for the season ahead?
“It was a fantastic week. I went there fresh for the new season after a fair bit of time off. It was nice to make the first full event really count. I managed to do that. I had a few people out there with me, so it was a relaxed vibe and we just enjoyed being out in Germany. The fans there are amazing. I really enjoyed the week in general.
“It is great to have something to build on and it takes a bit of pressure off knowing I am in the Champion of Champions. I knew I didn’t have many events left to get myself in there. You want to be announced as a champion into that event and I will be now. You shouldn’t relax and you should push on after winning, but you do have a different perspective. Being introduced to events as a champion means you have a bit more confidence about you.”
How was it coming home to celebrate with your wife Sophie and children Finley and Bailey?
“Celebrating the win with my family was so cool. Finley is in year three at school and they’ve been given Chrome Books to explore the internet. He keeps coming home and saying how he’s Googled me and shown all his friends about me winning the European Masters. He is proud as punch and little things like that are really nice.
“It has also been nice to share time with both of them with the start to the season being a bit quieter. I’ve managed to see my youngest son Bailey have his first day at school and that is something I missed with Finley. I think I had to watch him walk through the school gates on Facetime from Shanghai. It was nice to have this time to see Bailey go to school. Watching him take that all in his stride has been a real pleasure. I’m looking forward to playing a bit more and I do like to get it rolling, but I’ve had a really good time off.”
You battled past Ali Carter 6-5 in a fiercely contested semi-final. How tough is he to face as an opponent?
“He is a fantastic match player. He has been finding his form in the last few seasons, coming back to the standard he was producing many years ago. It went right down to the wire and I let him off the hook at 4-2 up. He got himself in front, but I produced two really good frames from 5-4 down. I got myself over the line and it was a very good match.
“I think those are the situations where you find out a little bit more about yourself as a person. To have gone 4-2 up and all of a sudden found myself 5-4 down wasn’t easy and people will have been writing me off. You need to believe in yourself and I did that. I knew my chance would come and was just patient. When that chance comes you need to take it and that was what happened. I was chuffed with how I handled it, as it was all going downhill at one point.”
Neither you or Barry Hawkins were quite at your best in the final, but you managed to secure a comprehensive win. How pleased were you with how you managed to deal with it?
“It was weird for me, as I felt that I’d take off and play really well. I felt it would happen and it just didn’t. We both did struggle with the conditions a bit. I thought the difference was the fact that I just accepted it would be tough and I got on with it. All it was about was winning that trophy, it wasn’t about how I did it. I made some big pots at important moments to make it difficult for Barry and that was probably what won me it. Like Ali, he is an awesome match player and competitor so I was very pleased to win.”
Are you surprised Barry has gone five years without a ranking title?
“I’m not really that surprised. People probably get sick of hearing this, but there are so many good players on the tour. You can get to these finals, but you are coming against a player who has clearly played well throughout that tournament. If you are both at the peak of your game sometimes it doesn’t matter. It isn’t like golf where, even if your opponent gets a hole in one, you have a right of reply. Snooker is unique in that you can’t always respond. Sometimes you have to swallow it. If you look at the grand scheme of things, just getting to a final is a fantastic achievement. I’m sure it won’t be that long before Barry wins one.”
As one of the younger players inside the world’s top 16, do you see the likes of yourself and Judd Trump eventually being in a battle with the Chinese contingent of players for biggest honours in the sport?
“Funnily enough when Fan Zhengyi won last year’s European Masters he mentioned me in the post match interviews. He said the big turning point was beating me in the last 16 and that it gave him confidence. I realised that these lads were seeing me in that way and decided I needed to work a bit harder and get back in the winners circle myself. It was ironic that I have done that at the same tournament the following year.
“The obvious difference is that the Chinese guys have sacrificed their personal lives to come over here. I’ve seen first hand at their academies that their whole life is snooker. It is eat, sleep, snooker, repeat. For me, I am juggling a young family whilst trying to get the best out of my snooker. I am in a different stage and time in my life, but I believe I have the ability to keep pushing on.”
You recently put on an exhibition for the charity Be More Fab, which is raising money for five-year-old Florence Bark to receive a potentially life saving cancer treatment which isn’t available on the NHS. Tell us more about your involvement and how the exhibition went.
“We managed to raise £10,000 towards it. Myself, my brother, Sophie and Barratts snooker club in Northampton worked together to put it on. I am really glad it was a success and it means a lot to be a small part of helping towards an important cause. If we can do something to ease the pressure, even slightly, from what they have to deal with that is great. We are very proud to have done something towards that.”