Kyren Wilson will return to the scene of his first significant professional victory next month at the Shanghai Masters, which runs from September 9th-15th.
The Warrior picked up his first ever ranking title at the 2015 running of the event. Since then the tournament has changed status to become the most lucrative invitational competition in the sport. Wilson has qualified as part of the world’s top 16, with eight other Chinese cueists making up the 24-player field.
Last year Wilson went on a run to the semi-finals in Shanghai, which was eventually ended by five-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan. We caught up with the Kettering cueman to see how he is feeling ahead of this year’s event…
Kyren, the Shanghai Masters is a competition which you hold very fond memories of, having won there in 2015. How much are you looking forward to going back there this year?
“This is such a big tournament. There is so much money on offer. This is basically becoming China’s version of the Masters in the UK. The best players in the world are all there and this would be something special to win. Being in the top eight in the world rankings also means I get to play one less match, so that gives me a bit of a foothold in the event. It was one of my objectives to get into the top eight for that reason and I am pleased to have achieved it.”
You beat Judd Trump 10-9 in a thrilling final to win the 2015 Shanghai Masters. You’ve had several tremendous matches with Judd down the years, does his recent ascension to world number one and World Champion motivate you to try and reach those heights as well?
“Judd has taken his game to another level at the moment. For me it is just obvious that he is the best player in the world. He is World Champion and world number one, that speaks for itself. He is winning more or less everything. That is nice for me and is nice to have something to aim for. It is also good to have a young face doing it. We’ve relied on the old guard like O’Sullivan, Higgins and Williams for ages so it is good to see Judd coming through. It is just time for me to aim at stepping up and compete with that as well.”
Last year your run was ended by Ronnie O’Sullivan at the semi-final stage. What is it like playing against such a prominent figure in sport and how easy is it to just focus on your game?
“It is really difficult. Growing up and before I turned professional I would have seen Ronnie as my hero. You just can’t view him that way when you are playing him, you need to change your mindset and that isn’t easy to do. I came very close to beating him in the Champion of Champions final last season. It is nice to know I can compete at that level on the biggest stage.”
Along with the action on the baize, how much are you looking forward to returning to the city of Shanghai?
“Shanghai is one of my favourite cities on the tour. My wife really loves it there. It was here first snooker trip abroad. Just to go and walk down the bund is a fantastic experience and quite a breathtaking sight. I’m taking my brother this year and it will be his first time, so it will be nice to see him experience the city. We are thinking we might take my eldest son Finley out there next year as a new Disneyland has opened in Shanghai.”