Wilson beats tenacious Jones to win world title

An emotional Kyren Wilson claimed his first world title with a nervy 18-14 victory over Jak Jones at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

The 32-year-old led 15-10 heading into Monday's concluding session and moved to the brink of victory at 17-11.

But Welsh qualifier Jones - who was 7-0 down at one stage - tenaciously reeled off three consecutive frames, before a pumped up Wilson shouted out and burst into tears as he sealed his victory.

"I would like to say sorry to Jak for that outburst but it does mean so much to us all. My mum and dad have remortgaged and sacrificed their whole lives to get me here," Wilson said on BBC Two.

"I have dreamed of this moment - it was so nice to have the family there and let out emotions, because we have been on a real rollercoaster of a journey since I was six years old.

"I have given everything, I held myself together, kept myself composed and Jak fought and fought and made it so difficult for me."

The Englishman came into the tournament under the radar after an underwhelming campaign, during which he has dealt with challenging family issues away from the table.

However, he proved a deserved winner of the £500,000 top prize after producing arguably the best snooker of his career over the 17-day event.

It also provided him with a moment of redemption in what is regarded as the sport’s ultimate test, after his 18-8 defeat by Ronnie O'Sullivan in his only previous World Championship final in 2020.

While there was no fairytale conclusion for Jones, the quiet Welshman - who came into the tournament as a 200-1 outsider - has won plenty of admirers for his superb matchplay and wonderful temperament.

Jones was only the ninth qualifier in 47 years at the Crucible to reach the final and was within touching distance of emulating his compatriot Terry Griffiths, in 1979, and Shaun Murphy, in 2005, in going all the way to win the title.

"It's been an unbelievable tournament for me. About a month ago I was twitching in my first qualifying match. It's been a long month but I'm happy with it," he said.

“I am proud because I don’t think I have played that well, so to beat some of the best players in the world and get to a final - and so close to winning - gives me confidence.”

And there will also be a place for him alongside the game’s elite when the rankings are revised this month, with Jones climbing from 44th to 14th in the world as a result of his stunning journey to the final - which saw him come through two qualification matches and spend 22 hours longer in action than his opponent.

Worthy winner Wilson

It is a moment that has long been in the making for Wilson, who first competed against Jones at Q School in 2011.

Their paths have diverged significantly since then, with Jones falling off the professional tour twice and Wilson going on to win six ranking events.

However, he had, until now, been unable to get over the line in one of the Triple Crown events, losing to Mark Allen in the final of the 2018 Masters and electing to reconstruct parts of his game after his defeat by O’Sullivan four years ago.

Wilson now climbs nine places to end the campaign third in the world rankings, behind new number one Allen and Judd Trump.

"I believe I can be a multiple world champion and I'd be disappointed if I only landed one," added Wilson.

"That first one has got to be the hardest. I've got it off my back and nobody can take that away from me."

Having constructed a commanding 7-0 lead on day one to generate a scoreline last seen when John Parrott took the first seven frames against Jimmy White in 1991, he has rarely looked back.

And he has enjoyed a happy knack of collecting potentially pivotal frames, escaping at 11-6 up rather than 10-7 on Sunday evening - helped by a 14th frame dramatically decided on the black, and then winning the 25th frame on Monday afternoon.

But it not been for those, and an outrageous fluke after Jones had forced a respotted black in the 28th frame, the outcome may have been entirely different.

The man competing in his first ranking final suddenly appeared the more assured as Wilson's heavy scoring - he managed four centuries and eight half-centuries across the match - dried up.

During his stirring recovery Jones even threatened a maximum 147 break after potting the first 12 reds and blacks, but broke down on 96 in the 30th frame.

Wilson, though, held himself together to fulfil his boyhood dream with a match-winning break of 42.

Kyren Wilson graphic
Kyren Wilson is the second first-time Crucible winner in a row, after Luca Brecel last year [Getty Images]