Who is Kyren Wilson? The snooker star edging closer to ending major title drought

The Englishman will start as the favourite when he faces Welsh qualifier Jak Jones in the World Snooker Championship final

Harry Latham-Coyle
Sunday 05 May 2024 09:10 BST
Kyren Wilson is bidding for a first world title
Kyren Wilson is bidding for a first world title (PA Wire)

For Kyren Wilson, a maiden World Championship title could finally allow a man long tipped for a major title to fulfil the potential he has shown throughout his career.

Born in Kettering, the 32-year-old first turned professional in 2010 and soon established himself as one of snooker’s brightest young stars, recovering from a loss of form and regaining his World Tour card to return to the top tier of the sport in 2013.

Wilson immediately made an impact, forging a reputation as a player who could beat anyone on his day as he built the consistency required to challenge at the highest level. By 2015, it had arrived — at the Shanghai Masters, Wilson came all the way through qualifying to stun Judd Trump in the final and secure his first ranking title.

Having begun the event ranked outside the world’s top 50, Wilson was the biggest outsider to claim a ranking event in a decade. A run to the quarter-finals of the 2016 World Championship was another indication of a player on the up.

When he surged to the final of The Masters on his second appearance in 2018, it felt like confirmation of Wilson’s ascent into snooker’s upper echelons. But a 10-7 defeat to Mark Allen at Alexandra Palace represented a setback, the Englishman feeling that he had ceded the opportunity a little too easily. “I just made things a bit too easy for Mark,” a tearful Wilson reflected afterwards. “You can’t do that to a player of Mark’s class, he’s too good and he’ll punish you. That’s what he did tonight.

Kyren Wilson facesJak Jones in the World Snooker Championship final
Kyren Wilson facesJak Jones in the World Snooker Championship final (Getty Images)

Despite winning five ranking events to sit inside the top 20 on snooker’s all-time list of victories, questions about his big-match mentality have followed Wilson, perhaps explaining why a Triple Crown title still eludes him. ‘The Warrior’ has reached the last eight at either The Masters, UK Championship or World Championship 14 times but contested only two finals – against snooker’s elite players, he has typically struggled.

A gutsy quarter-final win over Judd Trump at the Covid-delayed World Championship in 2020 suggested brighter times to come, particularly after a fluked green allowed Wilson to pip Anthony McGill in an all-time classic deciding frame in the semi-final. Yet he was unable to hold on to a rampant Rocket as Ronnie O’Sullivan claimed his sixth world title in dominant fashion.

Might 2024 be the year that Wilson finally breaks through? It has been a strange season for the father-of-two, scoring freely at times but unable to put together a deep run at a tournament. Only Trump (79) has more than Wilson’s 65 centuries across the campaign, but he has not even a final appearance to show for it.

Kyren Wilson is seeking a first Triple Crown title
Kyren Wilson is seeking a first Triple Crown title (PA Wire)

The Crucible could offer salvation. All of the top seeds have fallen, leaving Wilson, 12th in the world, strangely placed as the highest-ranked player left standing by the semi-finals. He will sense an opportunity.

After beating David Gilbert in the semi-finals, Wilson revealed he has been benefiting from sessions with a hypnotherapist during his run to the final. “It’s just about emptying your stress bucket,” said Wilson. “We all have things going on that can affect our day-to-day life and it allowed me to go out there and be a little bit freer.

“Our minds are so clogged up with so many different things that don’t need to be there, so if you can just eliminate them and go out and play snooker it makes the game a hell of a lot easier.”

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