Kyren Wilson hit back at Ronnie O’Sullivan’s claims that snooker's next generation lacks ability after booking his place in the last 32 at the English Open, writes Will Jennings.
The Kettering potter, who lost to six-time world champion O’Sullivan in the Crucible final this year, eased past Chinese player Gao Yang 4-1 in Milton Keynes.
O’Sullivan hit the headlines for his comments in Sheffield where he claimed he’d have to ‘lose an arm and a leg’ to fall outside the world’s top 50 given the current paucity of talent.
But world No.6 Wilson slammed the Rocket’s claims and insists the future of snooker is in safe hands.
“Ronnie was beaten by a youngster in his first match back so I think those comments were a little bit unjustified,” the 28-year-old said.
“Maybe he didn’t see what was coming through - my manager who sadly passed away, Brandon Parker, had that as one of his aims, to bring through the young crop in Europe.
“I think we’re seeing quite a few of them now - you’ve got Iulian Boiko, Ben Mertens and the young lad who beat Ronnie, Aaron Hill, also beat me in the Shoot Out so he’s a promising lad.
“The lad who Ronnie almost lost to the other day - Brian Ochoiski - also looks like another good talent. Even that lad who I just played was 16 and he looked like he hit the ball lovely, so I think there’s a lot coming through.”
Wilson won a scrappy contest against teenage opponent Gao in the second round of the maiden Home Nations event of the season as a first-frame break of 82 laid the foundations.
The three-time ranking event winner made no further visits of note but kept his name in the draw heading into the business end of the week.
Wilson, who has shot up the rankings in recent times, reached the final of the English Open - this year being held behind closed doors - in 2017 but went down 9-2 against the outspoken O’Sullivan.
He’s in upbeat spirits about his 2020 prospects but wants to iron out silly mistakes as he plots a route to a first ranking event title since last year’s German Masters.
“I’m letting my opponents get in with silly mistakes so I need to sharpen up on that,” he added.
“But it’s a good sign that I’m winning when I’m not playing at my best.
“I’m really excited for this season - I’m settled on my game and I’m quite eager to see where I can take myself this season and see how consistent I can be.
“I’m No.6 in the world, I want to stay there and try and build on that and go higher, so I’m looking forward to it all.”