Wilson’s Welsh win is certainly no surprise

Feb 19 / Snooker System
It’s fair to say Gary Wilson is getting a taste for winning.

A little over a year ago, the Tyneside Terror lifted his first ranking title and now he’s taken his tally to three with this weekend’s capture of the Welsh Open title.

Including a 147 in a semi-final triumph over five-time record winner John Higgins and a comfortable – albeit battling – 9-4 victory against Martin O’Donnell in the final, Wilson is making a habit of going home with silverware.

Having reached four of his five career finals in the past three seasons, he’s ranked as high as he’s ever been at 12 and is now one of the recognisable names fighting it out for titles.

This is quite a transformation for a player who has always had the talent but until recently hadn’t found the winning formula. He first turned professional two decades ago in 2004 but was notably absent for seven years between 2006 and 2013.

Wins like this mean he’s an established top player without any question and is developing the experience to be a danger at any of the big events.

With the absence of the season’s star men Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump, we went to Llandudno this week wondering whether the Welsh Open would produce another fairytale winner.

Since beginning in 1992, the event may typically have been dominated by the top names in the sport. But things have changed in the previous three years with big hitters being replaced with unlikely headline makers. From rank outsider Jordan Brown in 2021 to Joe Perry a year later, it was then followed by renaissance man Robert Milkins in 2023.

Could it be an unfancied story again? In fact, it nearly was. The world number 76 Martin O’Donnell battled his way to a first ever ranking final only to be denied by Wilson, who restored order as a more expected winner at the Welsh.

Wilson is not only building his credentials as one of the star names on the baize but has plenty of fans owing to his likeable manner on and off the table. It’s therefore unsurprising to hear people starting to tip him up as a possible contender for the World Championship.

Before any of his recent ranking wins, Wilson famously reached the last four in Sheffield in 2019 and now seems to have taken that all-important step in getting over the line in finals. The hard-nosed critics among us may wonder whether the fact that’s he’s beaten players outside of the top 16 in the finals of all of his wins, it places a question mark above his name when it comes to doing the job in the very biggest majors. But to think we would be throwing Wilson’s name into the mix at all is testament to the breakthrough he’s enjoyed.

What perhaps is most telling is that the new world number 12 often pulls short of giving his game too much praise, which suggests there’s always more to come.
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