King Kyren! Wilson Is New Crucible Champion

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Kyren Wilson became the 23rd player to lift the famous Cazoo World Championship trophy at the Crucible, beating Jak Jones 18-14 in the final.

Frame by Frame

Having won the first seven frames during the opening session on Sunday, Wilson was able to nurse his advantage to the winning post, and although tenacious Jones fought hard, he couldn’t narrow the gap to less than three. By coming from 17-11 to 17-14 he created an exciting finish, but it proved too little, too late. Wilson’ s scoring was impressive throughout, making four centuries and eight more breaks over 50 as he joined the exclusive group of players to have captured the sport’s biggest prize.

Soon after he first appeared at the Crucible a decade ago, Wilson stated with confidence that he would come back and win the title one day. Sheffield has not always been a happy hunting ground for the Warrior and he has suffered a few heavy defeats, notably an 18-8 reverse against Ronnie O’Sullivan in the 2020 final, and a 13-2 humbling at the hands of John Higgins a year ago. But his self-belief has never wavered and the 32-year-old from Kettering now has the ultimate reward.

Wilson Joins Elite Group

The father-of-two’s success is inspiring given that his wife Sophie and younger son Bailey have suffered serious health problems within the last year. Inevitably Wilson’s form suffered and he had previously appeared in just one ranking event semi-final this season. But he has handled adversity with resolve, and will take immense pride in celebrating with his close-knit family including brother Taylor and parents Rob and Sonya who have sacrificed so much since his junior days.

During a 10-1 annihilation of Dominic Dale in the opening round, Wilson showed that he was among the form players in the field, and he went on the score comfortable wins over Joe O’Connor, Higgins and David Gilbert to reach his second Crucible final. His patchy results this season have belied the fact that his break-building is a good as ever – only Judd Trump has made more centuries. Across this event he made eight centuries and 44 more breaks over 50; such prolific scoring coupled with a strong tactical game and ability to handle any situation with a cool temperament have made him the outstanding player of this year’s Championship.

It’s a sixth ranking title for Wilson and first since the 2002 European Masters. Banking the top prize of £500,000, he jumps nine places up the rankings to a career high position of third.

World number 44 Jones would have been the longest-odds ever winner of the title having started the qualifiers as a 200-1 outsider. The 30-year-old Welshman won two matches to make it to the televised stages. Enjoying his time in the spotlight, he has broken new ground in his career, highlighted by a quarter-final victory over Judd Trump, but in the end coming from 7-0 down in the final was too much to ask. Jones misses out on becoming only the second qualifier, after Terry Griffiths and Shaun Murphy, to lift the trophy. But having appeared in his first ranking final, the £200,000 prize boosts him 30 places to number 14, as he joins the elite top 16 for the first time.

Going into the final session 15-10 ahead, Wilson soon extended his lead, winning a safety battle on the last red and clearing the table in frame 26. Cwmbran’s Jones hit back with a 105, his first century of the match, for 16-11. He also had chances in frame 28, missing a short range red to a top corner when leading 46-37. He later cleared the colours to force a respotted black, but then failed to convert a clear chance to a baulk corner, and Wilson fluked the black off three cushions to go six up with seven to play.

Spurred on by the Crucible crowd, Jones gained momentum with a run of 67 for 17-12. In the next he made a bold attempt at a maximum break, potting 12 reds with blacks for 96 before a tough 13th red along a side cushion stayed on the baize. The fight-back gathered pace when he took a scrappy 31st frame to close to 17-14.

Trailing 29-4 in the 32nd, Jones went for a double to a centre pocket, and was unlucky to see the red hit the jaw and bounce into a pottable position in baulk. This was Wilson’s chance, and his match-winning break of 42 was the most important of his career. Tears were soon flowing as he embraced his family on the arena floor.

“I have dreamed of this since I was six years old,” said Wilson. “To win it with all my family there was just how I imagined it. Jack fought and made it so hard for me, it was tough to hold it all together. In the last frame I just kept potting balls and suddenly I had potted match ball and I was World Champion. It means everything.

“I was gutted to lose the final to Ronnie in 2020 and if that had been my only final I would have been heart-broken. I remember being drained in the first session of that final. This time I felt great, and when I saw Jak I thought he might struggle, I knew that was the moment to kick on. From 7-0 I knew I just had to avoid losing a session heavily, and to keep making it hard for him.”

Preparation, diet and fitness – managed by his brother – have been key for Wilson. “I am sick to death of salmon!” he joked. “I’m having a kebab and a few beers tonight! I have slept really well throughout the tournament and that is important. I believe I can be a multiple World Champion – hopefully the first one is the hardest to win.”

Jones said: “I left myself with too much to do from 7-0. After my semi-final on Saturday night I didn’t get back to the hotel until 1am, and didn’t sleep at all that night. I felt flat yesterday in the first session, though Kyren came out flying and would probably have beaten me anyway. If I could have got to 17-15 tonight I might have had a chance, he might have started twitching. But I was just too far behind.

“I am proud to have got this far without playing that well, it has been my B or C game most of the time. So to beat some of the best players and get so close to the title gives me a lot of confidence. I have learned a lot about how to handle this event and I believe I can come back and win it. Being in the top 16 now is a major plus and I want to build on that.”

Article by WST.