Gary Wilson and Elliot Slessor will face each other in the first round of the 2023 World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.
This season for Gary Wilson
For the first time in his career, Gary Wilson is a top 16 member and a Crucible seed.
A memorable campaign for the Newcastle United supporter saw him given a hero’s reception at St. James’ Park following his maiden ranking success at the Scottish Open.
Wilson later reached the quarter-finals of the Players Championship and the last four in the WST Classic, where he was a frame away from qualifying for the prestigious Tour Championship through the one-year rankings list.
Still, the 37 year-old will return to Sheffield in arguably the form of his career, and he does have some good memories of the city.
Back in 2019 as a qualifier, Wilson produced an unexpected run to the World Championship semi-finals, where he was defeated by eventual champion Judd Trump.
This season for Elliot Slessor
Until the World Championship, Elliot Slessor was having a poor campaign and was just about hanging onto a place among the world’s top 64.
Slessor couldn’t string more than a win or two together prior to his efforts at the English Institute of Sport.
But three wins in the qualifying tournament have safeguarded his status on the main tour, and he’s now set to end the season inside the world’s top 50 or higher.
The 28 year-old’s fortune turned around in impressive fashion as he bagged victories over Ian Martin, Liam Highfield, and Zhou Yuelong.
Slessor, who has been working with former world champion Peter Ebdon, previously qualified for the Crucible in 2020 when the majority of the tournament was staged behind closed doors, so this will be an extra special appearance for him.
Wilson and Slessor head-to-head
Wilson and Slessor have met just once before on the World Snooker Tour, a 4-3 victory for the former in the British Open semi-final of 2021.
The two friends from the North East of England will know each other’s games very well, however.
This is probably a fixture that neither wanted, but it does make for a fascinating battle between the Wallsend warrior and the Gateshead giant.
Who emerges as the winner is anyone’s guess, with this match representing one of the more difficult on paper to predict.
Wilson obviously boasts more pedigree, but Slessor has proven in the past his ability to perform on the big occasion with a couple of victories over Ronnie O’Sullivan under his belt.
The fact they know each other so well adds extra spice.
Prediction: Gary Wilson 10-8 Elliot Slessor
Tuesday, April 18th – 10am and 7pm
Featured photo credit: WST