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World Snooker Championship: Kyren Wilson jokes he'll always be No 2 to 'Rapid' Ricky Evans in Kettering

New World Snooker Champion Kyren Wilson speaks to Sky Sports News about his journey to become a winner, the future of the Crucible Theatre, why he wants to become world No 1, and his friendship with darts player 'Rapid' Ricky Evans

Kyren Wilson and Ricky Evans
Image: Kyren Wilson says he's still No 2 to the most famous sportsperson in Kettering 'Rapid' Ricky Evans

New World Snooker Champion Kyren Wilson talks about his journey to the top, the future of the Crucible Theatre, why he wants to become world No 1 and his friendship with darts player 'Rapid' Ricky Evans.

Wilson landed his first World Snooker Championship title with an 18-14 victory over dogged qualifier Jak Jones at the Crucible on Monday.

His win was a long time coming for 32-year-old Wilson, who was twice previously runner-up in Sheffield and at the Masters, but had struggled to make the big-time breakthrough that many believed his prodigious talent was due.

Kyren Wilson celebrates in their match against Jak Jones (not pictured) on their way to winning the 2024 Cazoo World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield. Picture date: Monday May 6, 2024.
Image: Wilson beat Jak Jones to win the World Snooker Championship

"It hasn't sunk in yet," said Wilson, who goes by the moniker 'The Warrior. "My phone has been non-stop and I think it will take some time to sink in.

"Hats off to Jak, he really pushed me the whole way but I just feel as if I needed to keep my emotions under wraps. I had to keep myself nice and composed the whole time and the only way I was going to lose the final was if I capitulated emotionally, but I managed to hold myself together really well."

Wilson's route to the top of the sport has been far from serene.

He spent two years consigned to the amateur ranks after an unsuccessful first season on the tour, and considered it his last chance when he got another crack among the professionals in 2013.

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His major breakthrough came when he fought through three qualifying rounds to reach and win the Shanghai Masters, becoming the lowest player in a decade to win a ranking tournament, but despite ascending to the world's top 16, the expected haul of titles have been slow in coming.

"My mum and dad have totally sacrificed their lives the whole time," explained Wilson. "They've re-mortgaged the house a number of times.

"They bought a derelict house that hadn't been lived in for 40 years just because they had the potential to build a snooker room at the back, so it was a beautiful moment to have them down and celebrate this win with me. It makes all the blood, sweat and tears worth the while."

'I would love to become world No 1'

Kyren Wilson, World Snooker Championship (PA Images)
Image: Wilson is targeting world No 1 spot having risen to No 3 following his victory in Sheffield

Wilson says he is looking forward to the prospect of every moment on the tour next year where he has a target of becoming world No 1.

"That world number one spot is something that I would love to tick off but it's beautiful that I'm now a part of history. The fascinating thing for me has been looking at the number of names who have won this trophy since 1925-26. It's got such a long history and obviously my name is going to go on there," said Wilson.

"I said I wouldn't be happy if I had just won one throughout my career. I'm 32 now and I'm coming into my prime so now I've got the first one out the way, which I believe is the hardest one to win, hopefully there will be many more."

Wilson wants Worlds to stay at Crucible

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Sky Sports' Cam Hogwood explains how the Snooker World Championship could be set to move from the tournament's iconic Crucible

And on the future of the Crucible, Wilson says he hopes 'it never moves' from the Sheffield, despite a capacity of just under 1,000.

The venue has hosted the World Snooker Championship every year since 1977, but the current deal expires on its 50th anniversary and former World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn, president of Matchroom, has warned Sheffield City Council its days of staging the showpiece event are numbered unless the Crucible is ripped down and replaced with a bigger capacity venue.

Wilson, who was runner-up to Ronnie O'Sullivan in 2020, admitted his sense of achievement would have been different if the event was staged elsewhere, saying: "It literally is in the writing, it is pure theatre in there, it's so intense, so compact, the atmosphere is like no other.

"You can't create the same intensity in a big, vast venue but I understand why there's talks of it because there's a massive demand for snooker at the moment in all parts of the world.

"It's a great position for the game to be in, but for me it was so important to make sure that I lifted it this year because if I ever got the chance to lift this trophy and it wasn't at the Crucible, for me, I don't think it would have quiet the same effect."

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Chief Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol says there's a 'possibility' the World Snooker Championship could leave The Crucible as Saudi Arabia increase their influence on the sport

Saudi Arabia's growing interest in the sport has dramatically changed the landscape for discussions.

The first ranking tournament is set to be staged in the kingdom next season, and the second World Masters of Snooker will double its prize for potting the controversial golden ball to $1m.

Wilson added: "At the end of the day, everybody has different circumstances.

"People have families to provide for, mortgages to pay, bills to pay, so I don't know the position that other people are in.

"For me it was just all about being a part of history. Obviously, the money and all of that sort of thing can take care of itself if you are a world champion, so I don't think there was any point in worrying about that.

"Money does come and go, but history and legacy obviously is something that is going to remain forever.

"At the end of the day, we do an awful lot of travelling. We make an awful lot of sacrifices away from the family.

"So if the rewards are going to get bigger and better, that's obviously great - but history is something that I can sort of never have that robbed of me."

Why 'Rapid' Ricky is No 1 in Kettering

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Take a look at some of Ricky Evans' best and funniest moments at the World Darts Championship

Wilson is close friends with darts star and fellow Kettering native, Evans, the fastest player on the PDC Tour.

Evans, who reached the semi-final of the UK Open this season, is known for his flamboyant outfits and walk-on music.

"It would have been great to walk out to the YMCA at the Crucible but I don't think it would have had quite the same impact that maybe a darts player can have," Wilson said with a smile.

"One of the reporters asked me this week whether I would overtake 'Rapid' Ricky Evans as the number one most famous sportsperson in Kettering, but again, I still think I'm number two to the most famous darts player in Kettering."

Did you know...

Kyren Wilson played former world champion Peter Ebdon in a charity pool match at age of six. After clearing the balls from Ebdon's break-off, Ebdon told Wilson's parents that he had the talent for a career in snooker

Wilson's first stint on the World Snooker Tour lasted just one year before he lost his place after failing to win a main-draw match. He had to wait three years before returning to the professional game, but claimed a win over Jones at Q School in 2011

Wilson won his first ranking title in 2015 when he fought through three rounds of qualifying before winning the Shanghai Masters. Then ranked 54th in the world, Wilson's 9-8 victory over Judd Trump made him the lowest ranked player to win a ranking title in 10 years

Wilson is a Chelsea supporter and says a message he received from former Blues star Gianfranco Zola during one of his World Championship campaigns - which he has framed in his house - is a prized possession

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