Kyren Wilson and John Higgins will face each other in the second round of the 2023 World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.
This season for Kyren Wilson
It has been a strange 2022/23 season in many respects for Kyren Wilson, who represents the seventh seed in the draw this year.
Wilson started strongly with his success in the European Masters, and he has been back in form of late with appearances in the semi-finals and the final of the Players and Tour Championships respectively.
The period in between, however, was filled with inconsistent performances in which he regularly failed to go beyond the early rounds.
Wilson is a player often tipped as someone who could potentially capture the biggest titles the game has to offer.
The 31 year-old – a five-time ranking event winner – has frequently put himself into positions to do just that in recent seasons, but his failure to get over the winning line on the biggest occasions has been noticeable.
That trait resurfaced in his defeat to Shaun Murphy earlier this month in the Tour Championship final, adding to the doubts of whether or not he really has what it takes to go all the way in Sheffield.
This season for John Higgins
The fact that John Higgins has dropped to number eleven in the world rankings tells its own story.
Higgins was so far off the pace on the one-year rankings list that he failed to qualify for all three Duelbits Series tournaments.
A mini revival in the last couple of months has provided the Scot with a glimmer of hope to hold onto and build from.
Higgins triumphed for a record fourth time in the Championship League at Judd Trump’s expense, and he also reached the last eight of the WST Classic.
What happened in the first round?
There were a few players who produced eye-catching performances in the first round, and Kyren Wilson was one of them.
The 2020 World Championship runner-up compiled five century breaks en route to a 10-5 drubbing of Ryan Day, including a magnificent maximum 147 contribution.
Higgins recorded the most one-sided scoreline of the opening few days in Sheffield, hammering David Grace in a comprehensive fashion, 10-3.
Kyren Wilson and John Higgins head-to-head
Higgins interestingly boasts a far superior head-to-head record against Wilson with 13 wins from their 17 battles against one another.
That being said, when Championship League fixtures are taken out of the equation, the advantage is just 4-2 in the Wizard of Wishaw’s favour.
They have twice encountered each other at the Crucible Theatre, with Higgins prevailing on both occasions at the quarter-final and semi-final stages of the 2017 and 2018 tournaments respectively.
I wasn’t sure whether Wilson could maintain the form that took him to the Tour Championship final, such was his inconsistency this season, but he unequivocally brought his A-game.
The world number seven is desperate to claim a major piece of silverware, and he continues to put himself into the right positions to do so.
Whether or not he will succumb to the pressure at the business end again remains to be seen, but he’ll likely start this tie against Higgins as the marginal favourite.
Higgins has proven time and time again how foolish it is to write him off, and I’m not about to do that here.
It would be a surprise if this isn’t a closely fought showdown all the way through to the conclusion of the third session, but on this occasion I think Wilson will edge it.
Prediction: Kyren Wilson 13-12 John Higgins
Sunday, April 23rd – 10am and 7pm
Monday, April 24th – 1pm
Featured photo credit: WST