Kyren Wilson Interview - UK Snooker Championships

In an exclusive interview with SportsBoom, British snooker phenomenon Kyren Wilson looks ahead at his chances at the 2023 MrQ UK Snooker Championships at the York Barbican, from Nov 25-Dec 3rd.

Wade McElwain
Wade McElwain

Last Updated: 2023-11-23

Dillip Mohanty

5 minutes read

Kyren Wilson

Interviewing Kyren 'The Warrior' Wilson

In this 30-minute world-exclusive interview, the five-time ranking event winner talked everything from trash talk to the Beatlemania-like devotion of Chinese snooker fans, being a child prodigy, and the future, as he readies up like Rocky Balboa for the 2023 MrQ UK Snooker Championships at the York Barbican, from Nov 25-Dec 3rd.

The Man Behind The Myth

Despite his Spartan-like nickname, Kyren introduces himself as a friendly and approachable open book. As a pro snooker player facing his second biggest major, Kyren shows humility and acknowledgement of how far he’s come, but he won’t let that stop him from enjoying putting his feet up during the qualifiers.

“They’re really gruelling, I’ve got a few friends in qualifying, so I’m just keeping an eye on how they’re getting on. I’m certainly not envious of them going through the qualifiers!”

As he reflects on turning pro at the tender age of 18 and what it feels like to be a “young veteran”, Kyren shows that his success has far from muted his memories of those early days and their nervous butterflies.

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It gets a little bit easier going to these events year on year, you’re not so much of a rabbit in the headlights, like I once was.

After some reminiscing on turning the “dirty 30”, and contemplating the changes to his life over the last 12 years, Kyren takes the time to remind us all of the importance of mental health and a strong support network.

“It really is tough. I get chased out of the door sometimes, [the kids] saying ‘please don’t go!’. People will never understand how difficult that can be until you’re put in that position.”

But with the support of his steadfast wife and a rock-solid team – also featuring his manager-brother and legendary World Snooker coach Barry Stark – Kyren stays the course. 

Preparation for the Championships

When asked about his prep for big events like this, Kyren is quick with his answer. “You have to prioritise the snooker where you can. There’s too many good snooker players on tour nowadays, and [if you don’t do that] they’ll eat you alive!”

The champ then went on to reveal more of his winning strategy, “I don’t really think we can work on my game so much anymore. It’s [more] about re-addressing the right things, having like the odd MOT… that sort of thing.”

It’s clear that the revered Barry Stark is still a major influence on Kyren, even though he supposedly “just keeps an eye on me”. The way The Warrior speaks of Stark gives us no cause to doubt that “he just brings a bit of feel-good vibe to my life,” as Kyren says. 

Approach to Tournaments

When asked, “What are you looking for? What’s the change this year? How are you adjusting for this year’s Championships?”, it doesn’t take Kyren long to articulate the kind of thought-provoking response that anyone hoping to level up their game could learn from…

After admitting to it being a strange season so far, Kyren explains, “I feel like my form is there to be winning events… but I’ve had some fantastic performances against me [where] I’ve just lost out in a match.”

Hey – we’ve all been there, right?

But Kyren’s next philosophy is a real gem. “That could be the difference between winning an event [and not]. In this game, momentum is such a big part of it. I see snooker as a bit of a merry-go-round… sometimes you have to jump on when it’s your turn, and try to make the most of it for as long as you can.”

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There’s so many good players nowadays, I don’t really think it matters too much who you draw – they’re all going to be tough

Ultimately, it seems, Kyren isn’t so much focused on what could go wrong, or his competition. To this prodigy player, success is all about maintaining the winner’s mindset, staying positive, practising hard, and just plugging away. 

Pound the meat, Rocky...

In a surprisingly zen-like turn, Kyren shows what kind of “Warrior” he really is, “In this game, it’s sort of me against me. If I can get myself right, I know that I can beat anyone and win any event I play.”

And though he’s quick not to downplay the significance of the challenges ahead of him, it’s clear that it’s that very buzz that ignites his fire. “Every day is different… because of how we feel on the day and how we deal with [it]. That’s what’s fascinating about the game, anything can happen.”

When pushed for deeper insight into how he gets himself “right”, the Warrior admits, “I have to go to a bit of a nasty place. I have to go quite selfish… almost like Rocky mode… it’s back to the roots [and] grind. If it’s not quite going for me, I’ll put something a little bit extra in… especially for something as good as the UK Championships.”

While he’s clearly excited about the great prizes ahead, to Kyren, the real joy is in the opportunity to simply play these events, and be part of the sport’s incredible ongoing story.

Discussing nerves and his vibe before playing big venues like the Barbican, Kyren makes it clear, “I would be worried if I didn’t get nervous, because I’d feel like it didn’t mean anything anymore. I get nervous, but I know how to handle it.”

And with words that speak to the novice and master alike, he concludes, “In my early days, I [might] have thought ‘I don’t know if I should be feeling this’, but I think we all do [feel nervous] really, that’s part of the fun of being a professional snooker player.” 

The UK vs China

As the conversation rolls over the format for past UK Championships, the pro says it felt like “a bit of a circus”, and expresses his preference for this year’s formatting and length.

He then draws a comparison between snooker events in China, and his desire to help the UK reach a similar level of celebrating the sport.

Kyren talks of his recognition that “people want to [...] see the best players in the world,” claiming that it “makes it more appealing” and, from a player’s perspective, “it feels more luxurious”.

“When we go to China,” he explains, “it’s like a red carpet’s laid out. We get mobbed by fans… they’re literally hanging around in the hotel lobby waiting for autographs… some have been there a week, it’s crazy!”

We’re picturing Beatlemania as he describes how “we’re treated almost like royalty”. It’s hard not to express a bittersweet laugh when he compares that to “turning up at a leisure centre in the UK”.

But how can the UK, or the rest of the world, compete? How can we up the class of worldwide snooker appreciation?

Kyren has some ideas… 

Wade McElwain
Wade McElwainSenior Sports Writer

Wade McElwain is our Mr. NFL, a bona fide North American sports nut who knows about NBA, NHL, MLB, PGA plus MMA boxing and more. Originally from Canada, Wade is also an international award-winning stand-up comedian; host of numerous TV game shows; and a TV producer & writer. He also runs NFL in London-the largest NFL fan group in Europe, and has hosted NFL events at Wembley and around the world. Yes, he lives alone and does nothing but watch sports.