Ahead of the upcoming World Championship, let’s have a look at how the top 16 seeds have been getting on during the interrupted 2019/20 campaign.
Considering the strides forward he made during the last campaign, Jack Lisowski’s season has undoubtedly been a disappointment so far.
Regular runs to the latter stages of tournaments in the 2018/19 term saw the Englishman shoot up the rankings list to break into the top 16 for the first time in his career.
However, the “Dude” has managed only one appearance beyond the last 16 of a ranking event since the beginning of last summer.
At the Scottish Open in December, Lisowski made it all the way to the final before suffering a familiar defeat at the title-deciding stage.
The 29 year-old’s 9-6 loss to Mark Selby in Glasgow mirrored the defeats he suffered in the finals of last season’s Riga Masters and China Open, and prolonged his quest for a maiden ranking crown.
While the Cheltenham cueist regularly won one or two matches in the early stages of tournaments, his failure to string several wins together highlighted his struggle with consistency.
First-round defeats in both the World Grand Prix – played in his hometown – and the prestigious Masters similarly suggests that Lisowski has had a problem competing among elite fields.
Most people generally recognise Lisowski’s incredible natural talent, and when his game clicks into gear he’s arguably the silkiest player to watch on the entire circuit.
But his B-game is the worst from the top stable of stars, and when the going gets tough he simply has no credible response.
One piece of silverware could transform this trend, but all Lisowski has to do is look at his good friend Judd Trump to understand the value in developing a greater tactical nous.
Every section of a World Championship draw is difficult, but purely in terms of the seeds who are involved Lisowski’s quarter probably looks the easiest on paper.
Mark Allen, who has generally disappointed in Sheffield since reaching the semi-finals in 2009, could be a difficult second-round challenge to overcome.
An aging John Higgins, who humiliated Lisowski 13-1 in the last 16 at the Crucible in 2018, or David Gilbert could represent a quarter-final opponent.
Following Jack Lisowski’s season, it’s likely few will be predicting him to even reach that far, and the longer the format the more chance that his fragile game would be tested.
One thing that could work in his favour is the potential lack of a crowd that would only serve to heighten the pressure in hard times.
Lisowski has the A-game to go far in Sheffield, but whether he can sustain it or not is the big question, and it’s fair to say that out of all the seeds he would be the one that most qualifiers would be targeting.
I’d still say O’Sullivan is the silkiest player on the circuit but he’s definitely in the top five of that category. I’m in agreement on pretty much every other point made.