Kyren Wilson believes he has what it takes to make the Crucible “his own” in the future.
The Kettering snooker star has been reflecting on his breakthrough season, which culminated in his best-ever run in the Betfred World Championship.
The 24-year-old was beaten 13-8 by world number one and eventual winner Mark Selby in the quarter-finals but not before he bagged a cool £10,000 on top of his prize money for putting together the highest break of the tournament with a brilliant 143 in the penultimate frame of that match.
An epic 10-9 first-round win over Joe Perry was followed by a 13-9 success over Mark Allen before he ran into Selby.
Wilson has moved into the top 16 as a result of his efforts over the past few months.
And he felt he proved a point to himself with his showing in Sheffield, which prompted players both past and present to predict that he will lift the title in the future.
“If somebody had said to me at the start that after going through the qualifiers I would reach the quarter-finals, I would have taken it,” Wilson said.
“But it wasn’t really the fact that I got to quarter-finals that pleased me, it was the way it happened.
“I showed a lot of people that I can play the game and I showed I like to play my shots. I think I am an exciting player to watch once I get going.
“I have picked up a lot of new fans from this year and I have to keep entertaining them and show them that I am a force to be reckoned with.
“I also had to prove something to myself because two years ago I let the pressure of the Crucible overwhelm me a bit and I folded.
“I think I have shown that I am capable of making that arena my own in the future.”
As far as his exit at the hands of Selby was concerned, Wilson admitted the fact he fell 6-0 behind during the first session was key to the final outcome.
But he did express some disappointment over the scheduling as he was forced to return for the quarter-final just hours after defeating Allen in the second round.
“You always want to finish the season at the Crucible and if I hadn’t qualified I would have felt like it had come to a premature end,” he explained.
“But once you get there, it’s like the job hasn’t even started.
“I always felt the quarter-finals could be the stumbling block because that came the day after I finished the second round.
“I thought the format was a bit unfair because Mark had three days off and I was straight back on there and I think that contributed to the slow start I had.
“You can’t let the world number one go into a 6-0 lead and expect to get away with it.
“I got back to within a couple of him at one stage but ultimately, that first session finished me off.
“When you go up against these top players, you have to try to get them on the back foot as quickly as possible and show them that you are there to win.
“If I had put him under more pressure early on then things could have been different.”
Overall though, it’s been a season to remember for the Kettering man.
And while a run to the quarter-finals of the World Championship is not to be sniffed at, the undoubted highlight came back in September when Wilson made the snooker world stand up and take notice as he won the Shanghai Masters – his first-ever ranking title.
So, at the start of the season if we’d given him a ranking title, a last-eight spot at the Crucible and a place in the top 16, would he have taken it?
His swift reply to that question was: “Without a doubt, I would have bitten your hand off!
“To win any tournament, let alone a ranking one, on the tour at the moment is a big achievement in itself.
“I think I won one of the biggest competitions on the calendar and that was an unbelievable feeling.
“I feel I have followed it up with consistent results and I am pleased with the way I have handled things.
“But I am not going to stop there. I will be working hard and I will be ready to try to improve when the new season starts.”
On a final note, Wilson admitted the timing of the extra £10,000 bonus for the highest break in Sheffield couldn’t have been much better.
He is getting married to his partner Sophie next month and with a wedding and the small matter of a stag do in Barcelona to think about, that highest break money is set to come in useful during a busy few weeks.
“It’s a nice added bonus,” he added.
“I am buying Sophie a new car so it’s going to help towards that!
“It was obviously a bit nervy waiting around to see if it would get beaten but I was delighted to do it.
“I was a fair way behind at that stage of the match and to finish it off with the highest break was really pleasing.
“I have got my stag do coming up in Barcelona soon and then me and Sophie are getting married in June so the extra bit of money will come in useful for all that.
“There will certainly be a few beers brought with it!”