Kyren Wilson is relishing the challenge to join snooker’s elite and win a Triple Crown event.
The 26-year-old – ranked No 11 in the world – has emerged as one of the best British talents on the snooker circuit.
Already this season the Kettering cueman has won back-to-back tournaments, the Paul Hunter Classic and the Six-Red World Championship, although a career-defining win at one of snooker’s Triple Crown events – this week’s Betway UK Championship, the Masters or World Championship – has eluded him.
This year he lost in January’s Masters final to Mark Allen, while in May he bowed out in the semi-finals to John Higgins 17-13 at the Crucible in Sheffield.
But Wilson heads to the York Barbican – and an opening match tonight against Andy Lee – in high spirits hoping to end 2018 with his first Triple Crown piece of silverware.
“They are the sorts of tournaments that do define your career,” he said. “They are the ones you look back on and say that you have won. I’m from the UK, they are UK-based and you want to do well in front of your own people really. I will be chasing those down for many years to come.
You are the one that is holding the cue at the end of the day in those arenas and if you can stand up under that kind of pressure and do what is required it does give you a lot of confidence going forward.Kyren Wilson
“Obviously, getting to the final of the Masters has shown me that I can reach the final of those sort of events.
“Alexandra Palace is such a unique venue that to do well and go deep in that has given me a lot of confidence when it comes around.
“Having been to the one table set-up at the World Championship I will know what to expect now and, hopefully, be better prepared.
“I think you have to go through those experiences and moments in order to find out about yourself.
“You are the one that is holding the cue at the end of the day in those arenas and if you can stand up under that kind of pressure and do what is required it does give you a lot of confidence going forward.”
Wilson has been in rich form this season. In August he won the Paul Hunter Classic in Germany, beating Leeds veteran Peter Lines 4-3 in the semi-finals, before pipping Peter Ebdon in the final.
Then he defeated Ding Junhui 8-4 to clinch the Six-Red World Championship in Thailand.
He came close to securing a hat-trick of titles, but was edged out 10-9 against five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in the Champion of Champions earlier this month.
Wilson had trailed O’Sullivan 8-5, before reeling off four frames to lead 9-8. But the Rocket held his nerve to scramble over the line, winning the final two frames, to pocket the £100,000 top prize.
Earlier in the year came that Masters defeat to Irishman Allen, when he lost out 10-7.
“I think the whole occasion and situation just overwhelmed me really,” he recalled. “I’d never experienced that to that extent.
“It was one of those finals where you felt like it could have gone anyway at any point.
“When the last ball dropped it hit home that I had come so close to achieving a dream.
“There are going to be many occasions where that happens.
“It has happened to the greats of our sport where they have lost big finals and gone on to do bigger and better things.
“I will definitely learn from that experience and it was nice to have produced some good snooker to get to the final that week.”