Gary Wilson feels misunderstood and hopes Scottish Open glory ends 'lazy' punditry

December 7, 2022
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Phil Haigh ✍️


2022 BetVictor Scottish Open - Day 7
Gary Wilson lifted the Stephen Hendry Trophy on Sunday night (Picture: Getty Images)

Gary Wilson is finally a ranking event winner and he hopes his Scottish Open triumph will change what he sees as the ‘lazy’ narrative about his temperament.

The 37-year-old beat surprise finalist Joe O’Connor 9-2 in the final in Edinburgh, after a string of impressive wins en route to the showpiece, beating Ronnie O’Sullivan, Hossein Vafaei, Kyren Wilson and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh along the way.

It was the Tyneside Terror’s third ranking final, and having also been to the World Championship semi-finals, it was not a huge shock, but the timing was something of a surprise as he had not shown great form heading into Edinburgh.

It was a technical change that Wilson credits for finding the tournament-winning form while in Scotland, but often it is his temperament that is blamed for why he hasn’t got his hands on silverware in the past.

Sometimes a fiery character at the table, Wilson feels like the pundits have got him wrong, saying he is happy to show his emotions during a game but it doesn’t hamper his play.

If anything, he feels that he gets himself fired up by letting things out, but certainly doesn’t think the perceived wisdom of him having a poor temperament is accurate.

Asked if he feels his temperament has been misunderstood, he told Metro.co.uk: ‘I do, yes. I think that’s a very valid point.

‘That’s easy for me to say, but I do think people take my temperament as a real hindrance, but I don’t see it that way, I don’t see it as hindering my game. It’s a reactive thing because of my game, not the other way round.’

Wilson showed his emotional side during his win over namesake Kyren in the quarter-finals, swiping a ball off the practice table during the interval, which bothered his opponent.

He thinks this is good evidence that his temperament is not a problem, though, as he was the same as ever in Edinburgh and got his hands on the trophy.

‘I get what people are saying, but take this week, my temperament was “awful” as well and I won the tournament,’ he said. ‘I had that complaint from Kyren about making a bang in the interval when I was 3-1 down. He said my attitude wasn’t very good, but you could argue my temperament was awful all week.

‘I think people misunderstand it. It’s just me showing emotions, I’m not afraid to show emotions if I want to. I think some people feel they’re more obliged, professionally, to be like a robot. I don’t feel as strongly about that.


2022 BetVictor Scottish Open - Day 7
Wilson beat Ronnie O’Sullivan for the first time on his run to the title (Picture: Getty Images)

‘It doesn’t affect my game as much as people think, in my eyes. At the same time, I did my best to keep everything to myself in the semis and final, to be as blank as possible, to show people that if I want to not show my emotions, I can.

‘Things were going well, so it was easier, but I can decide to not show a single thing if I want to. But I don’t feel the need to or see why I should. If I want to be disappointed by a shot I’ll be disappointed. I don’t believe that it spurs my opponent on when I do, either. I think there’s a little bit much made about the whole temperament side of things.’

Wilson certainly doesn’t deny that he obviously looks frustrated at times, an example when he memorably dropped his cue on the floor during the UK Championship qualifiers as Andres Petrov fluked frame ball. However, he feels that blaming this for losses is a lazy conclusion to draw.

‘It’s a bit of lazy journalism from pundits and commentators, it’s a little bit lazy just to go to that and use it as an excuse,’ he said. ‘It is frustrating but as players we’ve got to get on with it and not get wound up with it.

‘All I can do is keep telling the truth, I always do, I’m very honest. If I thought I had a problem with my temperament and it affected my game I’d be the first to come out and say it. I’d say I can’t pot a ball when my head goes.

‘I know Tom Ford’s admitted in the past that when his head goes a bit he really struggles. I wouldn’t say I’m that kind of player. My head can go a bit and I’m a bit more of a Maguire where it can gee us up a little bit. I’d admit it if I felt it’s a problem, but it’s not, it’s more that if my game is gone, I don’t mind showing it.’

The world number 18 is not just open about his feelings at the table, but off it as well, speaking impressively about his struggles with depression last year.

He is in a far better place than he was at the start of 2021, now knowing how to get himself on the right track if he feels negative thoughts and behaviours creeping back in.

‘I’ve been over it generally the last year or so,’ Wilson explained. ‘But I still have moments where I slip into a situation where I think, “Don’t keep feeling like this if you can Gaz, because you’ve felt like this before.”


2022 BetVictor Scottish Open - Day 7
Wilson won his first title with O’Connor playing in his first final (Picture: Getty Images)

‘I’m just more mindful not to let myself slip into a situation like I was in beforehand, I can see the signs when it’s happening. Things like lying in bed too long during the day, thinking certain things, I know to get myself up and doing something rather than dwell on it. Just stop myself from getting anywhere near that thought process.

‘Winning this [tournament] changes things quite a bit, ticks one of the boxes I’ve wanted to do for a long time and I’m going to enjoy it.’

Back to the baize and Wilson explains that the technical change he made was also mental, as it was to ‘play on instinct’ more and try and think less on shots.

This sounds like it would be a more attack-minded style of play, but not necessarily, it was more to eliminate the drawn-out thought process on each shot which hampers his enjoyment of the game.

‘When I say play on instinct, it’s not shot selection or trying to speed up, or being more attacking, it’s all technique,’ he said. ‘Pretty much my whole career, I get down on a shot and think about feathering, stopping at the cue ball, think about back swing, pausing, on every shot.

‘I abandoned that. Got down to the ball, aimed it and cued it instinctively. That’s very difficult to do when you’ve trained yourself to do something different your whole career. It was about trying to think less technically. It was difficult but that’s how I instinctively play if I just pick up a cue and chuck my arm at a few balls, so I was just trying to do that to enjoy it.’

The change in his plan really came about in the second half of the semi-final win over Thepchaiya when he powered to victory with three centuries in four frames.

Wilson wants to keep playing with this level of freedom, but knows he will need to strike something of a balance between ‘abandonment’ and his more measured style.

‘I’ll have to balance it a bit to give myself a rounded game,’ he said. ‘I didn’t play great, I played well enough to do the job, but there were a few shots I completely splattered because I was doing something totally different to what I’m used to. I’ll have to round that off to be more consistent.

‘I only really felt like I could do some damage in the second half of the semi-finals. Abandonment is the word I’ve been using. It’s how I’m going to try and play now, I enjoy it and it’s working, so it can’t be the wrong way.

‘But I’m not worried about any of that, I’ve won a tournament, I don’t have to worry about that ever again. I’m just going to enjoy playing now and whatever happens, happens. I’m capable of making a living out of the game for another 10 years hopefully.’

Also set for another 10 years and more in the game is Wilson’s opponent in the final in Edinburgh, who Gary expects to be picking up trophies of his own at some stage.

‘He was in the players lounge and we had a couple of drinks afterwards,’ said Wilson of O’Connor. ‘He’s such a nice character, I’ve got a lot of respect for Joe and a lot of time for him. He’s so down to earth and respectful, got a great head on his shoulders.

‘I meant what I said after the game, he will win a tournament one day, it might take him 10 years, but the way he is, I’ve got no doubt about that.’

Gary Wilson is sponsored by BM Steel, Northeast Snooker Centre, Sports Pro Care and Green Baize.

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