Phil Haigh ✍️
Jack Lisowski admits he does not feel ready to win the World Snooker Championship yet, but is ready to find inspiration for a surprise triumph, hoping the unique influence of Peter Ebdon can provide just that.
The 30-year-old heads to the Crucible this year after a pretty forgettable season, with a Welsh Open semi-final and UK Championship quarter-final the only real standout runs.
Jackpot reached three rankings finals last season and it seemed that a first ranking title was only round the corner, but it has not emerged just yet.
It could come in the biggest tournament of them all as Lisowski prepares to take on Matthew Stevens in round one in Sheffield, but he is brutally honest on his mindset ahead of his challenge in South Yorkshire.
‘Do I feel ready to win the World Championship? Not really, no,’ Lisowski told Metro.co.uk. ‘I don’t know if you ever really feel like that.
‘To win the World Championship something special needs to happen, like when [Shaun] Murphy won it, played incredible snooker out of nowhere. When Judd [Trump] won it, played incredible.
‘You need to be inspired by something and hey man, I’m ready to be inspired by something. I want to surprise myself.’
On his campaign thus far, Lisowski speaks like it is the morning after a particularly boring party, trying to take the odd positive out of a half-enjoyable conversation or decent drink, but ultimately being tucked up in bed before midnight.
‘Just a quiet season,’ he said. ‘Just rubbish, pretty rubbish. I was a frame from being in the final in Wales, that was close. The UK I felt like I had a good chance in that, 2-0 up on [Zhao] Xintong. But it’s been a rubbish season. I feel like I’ve probably learned a lot, but I’m probably already looking forward for next season.
‘I’m a momentum player and from the start I never had any. I felt like I messed this season up. I had quite a lot of momentum from last season and maybe I just took too long off. I won’t make the same mistake again.’
After coming so close to a first ranking triumph last year, falling further away from it could put Lisowski’s love for the game to the test. But he says it is not so much the love that is challenged but the faith you hold in yourself.
‘You know what it tests? It tests your resolve and your confidence in what you do,’ he said. ‘Am I doing the right things? What have I got to change? When you start struggling you’re just like, “Why? What’s going on? Why am I not playing as well as last year?”
‘Sometimes you’re not doing anything wrong, so it challenges your confidence in yourself and your ability. This year has made me think about what I need to change in practice for next year.
‘But I’m trying. I’ve got Ebdon in the corner so who knows. I might call up [Ali] Carter. He always gives me really good advice.’
Could Ebdon by the key to unlock the door to Lisowski’s potential? The famously granite performer who battled his way to a World Championship and eight more ranking titles.
Jackpot, in some ways, is a polar opposite player to the Force, but if he can take on board some of the mental and tactical strengths that Ebdon had in abundance, then he could be all the more dangerous.
The pair have been talking about the game for some time, but the former world champ will be in his corner in Sheffield for the first time and Lisowski is hoping to feel the impact.
‘I think he’ll be at this tournament,’ said Jack of Peter. ‘We haven’t been able to bring a lot of people with the restrictions. I couldn’t bring him with me to the Masters, but it looks like I’ll be able to have that benefit with me now.
‘It’s just an experienced person in my corner. Hopefully give me some game craft, help me think the right way, make the right decisions and have a better game plan in matches.
‘A bit of tactics and the mental side, try to tell me to think the right way and at least I know what he’s telling me I’ve got to trust, because he’s probably the strongest player mentally ever. I listen to what he says and I’m trying to do what he says, I’m on the right path. It has me thinking better.
‘It’s more straight forward than you think, but putting it into practice is still tough. I haven’t cracked it yet, but I’d like to think I’m getting there.’
Ebdon has some unconventional views on a ranger of topics, which has seen him marginalised a bit in snooker and certainly not heard from as a pundit or commentator as he had been in the past.
Lisowski feels this is a great shame and is in awe of Ebdon’s knowledge of the game, which he reckons is going to waste.
‘I think for me he’s one of the best commentators,’ said Lisowski. ‘He’s so experienced, it’s a waste that he’s not at the venues. He should be working on the TV somewhere, because what he doesn’t know about snooker isn’t really worth knowing.’
Lisowski hopes he has picked up enough of that knowledge for a decent crack at the World Championship this year. He’s looking to be inspired, but it could be Ebdon’s mental austerity rather than a flash of inspiration that makes the difference and see him hit the Jackpot.
Matthew Stevens is Lisowski’s first round opponent at the Crucible, with the match starting on Tuesday evening.
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