Kyren Wilson encountered mixed fortunes at the end of last season, firing in his maiden Crucible maximum before enduring a heavy Cazoo World Championship defeat at the hands of John Higgins. However, the Warrior is keen to focus on the positives heading into the new campaign.
World number eight Wilson enjoyed a golden moment during his first round clash with Ryan Day at the Crucible, becoming the ninth player to craft a perfect break at the Theatre of Dreams. Wilson won that match 10-5, but his tournament ended in disappointing fashion with a 13-2 loss against Higgins.
We’ve caught up with 31-year-old Wilson to reflect on last season.
Kyren, firstly looking back on your victory at the BetVictor European Masters at the start of last season, you have won three of your five ranking titles in Germany. Why do you think you’ve been so successful there?
“The German fans are such a pleasure to play in front of. They create this really unique atmosphere, because they love their snooker. I think that brings the best out in the players and it definitely brings the best out in me. When you feel like you are appreciated and you enjoy where you are, then it is only going to create positive vibes. It was nice to kick off the season strongly.
“I just really enjoy it over there. The fans are such a pleasure to play in front of and they make you feel like a superstar. When there are positive vibes around the venue and outside throughout the town there is a feel-good factor. I know we are off to Nuremberg this year and that will be very interesting.”
Your form dropped off for a period of time after that great start. Why do you think that was?
“It has been well documented that I had a lot of cue troubles for pretty much every event after that. I changed my cue in the second round of the British Open. I couldn’t settle and I was going backwards and forwards. When you are trying to play this game, being unsettled with a few things on your mind isn’t easy. Especially when the thing on your mind is as big as what cue to use. That wasn’t ideal. Now I am more settled in that department I am looking forward to getting going this season.
“Sometimes it is like having a car, remapping it and giving it a different break horse power. Different cues can do that. They have certain attributes that can benefit your game and there are other cues that offer different benefits. In this sport you don’t really find that out until you are out in the arena under the pressure. It is all well and good being able to play a certain shot on the practice table when there’s no pressure. Once you are in that arena under super fast conditions, everything is different.”
You made the semis at the Players Championship and the final of the Tour Championship. How pleased were you with your form in the latter part of the season?
“I found some consistency at the end of the season, with a cue that I loved and I was just going and playing snooker. That was really refreshing. When you don’t have much on your mind and can just concentrate on potting balls things become easier. That sounds very simple but it is difficult to do. That showed with my results. I was scoring really heavily. Particularly in the Tour Championship, I thought my scoring was awesome. I was dealing with other things off the table like Bailey’s health and family life. I thought I juggled it all quite well. I was proud of that.”
Both defeats at the Players and Tour Championships came at the hands of Shaun Murphy. You’ve had some great battles with him over the years, but was it frustrating to lose those two huge matches?
“Shaun is an amazing player. He probably has one of the best cue actions ever seen in the game of snooker. It is always very competitive against him. When you are playing these guys you have to be on top of your form. If you dip at any point in any session, players like Shaun will take advantage and capitalise. He managed to do that in those two games against me this season. Him and Mark Allen were the standout players last season, so there was no shame in losing to Shaun.”
You worked alongside Shaun for the BBC during a punditry stint at the Crucible. How much did you enjoy that?
“We had a bit of banter with each other in the commentary box at the World Championship. I managed to get a few little digs in, which he took very well. That is all in good fun. He was showing me the ropes and is obviously well established in the commentary box now. I really enjoyed it. I’m not ready to go to the extent that Shaun or some of the other players do. I want to carry on with playing as my main focus. But on the odd occasion when it suits I would love to dip my toes in. I really enjoy it.”
What was it like making your 147 break against Ryan Day at the Crucible?
“It was so special. It is something that my kids will look back on when they are adults that will be in the history books. That is what I play the game for and that is what I want to be remembered for, things which stand out. I’m the ninth player ever to have one there and it shows how hard it is. There have been some incredible talents play there and I’m only the ninth to make one. It just shows what an awesome achievement it is. I’m very proud of that.
“I must admit the only time I felt really nervous was on the blue. I was just off straight and the way I was playing I could see in the little doorway, where the players walk out, all of the photographers run over. There was seven or eight in there. It caught me off guard so I overran it trying to get on the pink. I thought they might end up being there for the picture of me missing instead! Thankfully I did manage to get the 147. When you are somewhere as iconic as the Crucible those last few balls are difficult. At any other venue would have a lot of pressure, but not as intense as that. My heart was definitely pumping on that blue.”
You had some cue issues in your match against John Higgins. How disappointing was it to end the season on that note?
“I actually didn’t think I did too much wrong in the first session. John gives you absolutely nothing so you have to work extra hard for your chances. If you make one little mistake he will capitalise and make sure you are punished for it. He managed to do it for the whole match. He didn’t even let up at 8-0 ahead. I make no excuses with the cue. He was already 8-0 up when I established there was a problem. I am quite a determined character so I did still believe I could get back into the match, but it wasn’t to be. On the whole I have a very good record at the Crucible. The standard in snooker these days is really high. To have the record I do there is something I’m very proud of.”
How much have you enjoyed having a break over the summer period?
“It has been so much fun. I’m not ready for it to end and finding it hard to get the cue out the case. We had a fantastic family holiday in Portugal. There were some good memories there and I took my wife to see Elton John, that was such a great experience. My wife is a massive fan of him. She’s been trying to go for a few years. We missed out because of Covid. She has just turned 30 and I bought her tickets for her birthday. I think she cried half of the time we were there!”