TO SAY 2015 has been a year to remember would be an understatement for Kyren Wilson and snooker’s latest star is hoping to end it on a high by tasting more success at his first ever appearance at the Champion of Champions event in Coventry.
The 23-year-old has enjoyed his most successful season as a professional after defying all odds to win his first ranking event in Shanghai back in September.
Wilson, nicknamed The Warrior, came through three qualifying rounds and beat the likes of Joe Perry, Din Junhui, Mark Allen and Judd Trump in the final to become the lowest player to win a ranking event since Shaun Murphy won the World title ten years ago.
“I’m not one to get easy draws,” he joked. “But having said that you’ve got to beat the best players to get to the top.
“I’m not quite sure what clicked in Shangahi but I certainly did it the hard way. I don’t think I could have had a harder draw to the final and that made it even more special.
“It has been a very special year for me on and off the table with the birth of my son in February and it was also my dad’s 50th birthday when I won the Shanghai title so that was special.
“It has all been a bit of a fairytale to be honest but I think I’ve kept my feet firmly on the ground.”
It has been a long journey for Wilson who was first introduced to snooker by former World Champions Peter Ebdon after beating him at pool as a youngster while on holiday with his family.
He struggled to break into the professional ranks but has benefited from the introduction of Barry Hearn as chairman of World Snooker, who has brought more money into the game but more importantly for Wilson, has increased the amount of events from just eight to almost 30.
“It was a weird one for me because I was never really born into snooker,” Wilson continued. “I was given a toy golf set when I was younger and I remember turning it around into a cue.
“When I first started playing we used to have to play at an event at Butlins in Wales and there were only eight tour cards available.
“There was a lots of talented players around and there still is so it was very difficult to begin with.
“But since Barry Hearn has taken over there are now a lot more events, although I feel I have still had to work hard. There is a lot of depth in the sport now and the standard is so high, but that’s a good thing.”
Like most players his age, Wilson, who is from Kettering, based his game on his idols, but looking back he feels that was a disadvantage to his progress.
“I think one of my flaws growing up was that I tried to copy too many players instead of developing my own style.
“I like to play attractive and attacking snooker but I wouldn’t say I’d go all out all of the times. I think especially now there a lots of quality players around that will punish you so you so need to be sensible sometimes.”
Wilson’s special achievements this season have earned him a place at the prestigious Champion of Champions event which begins in Coventry next Tuesday.
And he is determined to make the most of his opportunity on the big stage when he takes on Trump again in his Group 3 opener on Tuesday.
“I can’t wait for the Champion of Champions event. I watched the event on ITV4 over the past few years so to be playing will be very special – I’m really excited.
“It’s nice to be playing close to home too. Coventry is only about 40 minutes away from where I live so I’ll be looking to bring a coach load over.
As for his chances in Coventry next week, Kyren confidently added: “I’m going to Coventry to win. I’m not going there just to make up the numbers.
“This year I’ve proved that I can beat the top players in the world. I’ve earned my right to be there and I’ll be doing my very best to win the tournament.
“I think it’s a shame that Ronnie O’Sullivan won’t be there because he’s one of the best players to ever play snooker and he brings the crowds in.
“But I’m sure he’s got his reasons for not playing and I’ve just got to focus on my own game.”