The finest season of Gary Wilson’s career came to an end on Monday, but he is still stuck with a feeling of confusion on how to make the jump to the next level.
The Tyneside Terror won his first ranking title at the Scottish Open this season and came to the Crucible as a seed for the first time, then beat Elliot Slessor in round one.
However, he was downed 13-7 by Mark Selby in his second outing in Sheffield, and while there is absolutely no disgrace in that, he was disappointed with his performance.
Selby was not at the very peak of his powers and Wilson felt he could have pounced on a number of opportunities if he was on top form himself.
Frustrated with not unleashing his best game at the World Championship, Wilson says it is simple what he needs to achieve, he just needs to work out how to do it.
‘I just need to play better, it sounds simple but I do. I know I can play better. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t, with the amount of hours I practice,’ he said.
‘Whether there’s always going to be something missing for me and I will every now and again have a good run…but I will try over the summer to find what I can do to be more consistent and perform to a higher level more often.
‘Part of us thinks that’s just my level, but another part thinks maybe I just need to practice harder. Who knows? I don’t know the answers.
‘I need to get a handle of my own game and stop being scared to miss. I’m always scared of missing, not because of where I am, who I’m playing, the tournament, it’s just letting myself down. I put so much expectation on myself to play well that it causes us to be scared of missing.
‘I’ve got to get rid of that and try and play more care-free, or at least find a balance.’
One man who appears care-free this year in Sheffield is Luca Brecel, who says he has barely practiced for this World Championship.
Could the Belgian Bullet’s relaxed style by the answer for the Tyneside Terror?
‘Maybe that is it. I’m quite a natural player, maybe I try too hard in practice, but maybe I don’t try hard enough?’ Wilson wondered.
‘I go through the motions a bit on the practice table, maybe I need to try less or maybe I need to really try like I did years ago.
‘But I remember doing that years ago and getting in some very bad habits, cue action-wise, from trying too hard. I’m subconsciously scared of doing that too, trying too hard.
‘I’ll figure it out at some stage, I might be 70 when I do, but I’m sure I’ll find a way to play this game properly at some stage.’
Wilson’s Scottish Open triumph came partly thanks to a care-free, attacking, almost reckless style of play, which he loved for a time, but says is unsustainable.
‘It was like a honeymoon period. That’s my most instinctive natural way of picking up a cue, getting on a table and splatting some balls around,’ he said.
‘It’ll only work for a short period of time and you will miss balls because of it, you will snatch at balls because of it. It worked for me for a match and a half, but then when I tried to carry it forward it started falling apart.
‘You would try and do that, though, I’d won a tournament, I got a bit of confidence, got excited for the first time in a long time, but it started falling apart rapidly. It’s not a proper way to play.
‘The way I’ve been playing for a number of years has been working to some extent for a reason. It’s more getting the extra little bits rather than completely changing everything. I need to have a proper think about it over the summer.’
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