Jack Lisowski on reaching the top playing 'kamikaze' snooker
The newest member of snooker's top 16 discusses his consistency, friendship with Judd Trump and trying to win his first professional title.
Jack Lisowski stops short of embellishing as he states that his ambition is “to be the best”.
Perhaps he knows that previous flirtations with a serious breakthrough have broken down.
After all, Shaun Murphy declared that snooker had “glimpsed its future” after the pair met in the China Open quarter-final as far back as 2013.
Perhaps he knows that his style – quick, aggressive and instinctive – is liable to malfunction.
There has long been concern that Lisowski, for all his talent, may fail to fulfil his potential, with his game straying on the side of recklessness.
Or, perhaps, he’s just being modest.
“I’d love to get there,” he says, speaking in the press room at the 2018 Betway UK Championship. “But not everyone can do that.
“We’ll see. For now, it’s nice to be in the top 16. It’s a new challenge, and there are lots of things to learn, which is cool.”
But after enjoying a fine start to the 2018/19 season, he is right to be craving much more.
He describes this breakthrough campaign as a “bit of a blur”, a result of an intense travel schedule and a consistency almost unmatched on the tour.
Previously, his career had consisted of four ranking quarter-finals and one semi-final.
This term, seven ranking events prior to the Betway UK Championship have resulted in quarter-finals in Haikou, Furth and Lommel, a semi-final in Daqing, and a final in Riga. He won’t be short of air miles.
He is sure, though, that the momentum generated from consistently playing is the key to maintaining his standards.
“I had a strong finish to last season and I’ve managed to keep it going this year,“ he says.
“Even on my holidays, I wanted to get back to the new season. I got to the final against Neil Robertson in Latvia, which was a great start, and I’ve not had many weeks off.
“I’ve kept playing all year, my game hasn’t dipped. The tournaments all roll into one another, it’s just one after the other.
“I don’t know where I’ve been,” he adds, laughing.
A result of regularly making his mark at the latter stages of events has seen comparisons to close friend Judd Trump stirred up more than ever.
It is easy to see why. The pair practice together in their home city of Bristol, they are both attacking left-handed players and are inseparable off the table.
It’d be easy to think that constantly being reminded of a professional resemblance to your best mate may eventually place a strain on the friendship, especially since they played each other in three consecutive tournaments prior to York. But that’s not the case.
“He beat me in two of the three and I beat him once, but we have gone for dinner afterwards each time and then we go and practice in the same place,” says Lisowski.
“There’s no hard feelings, so it’s pretty cool. We grew up together, both try and play quick snooker and I’ve always looked up to him and learnt a lot from him – but hopefully I can stop bumping into him.”
Like Trump, Lisowski can make the game look so easy that at times it is impossible to imagine him missing.
But though his aggressive style inevitably lends itself to fault-finding, it is not an approach he is prepared to compromise.
“I get the criticism that if I lose concentration, it serves me right,“ he says.
“Obviously, sometimes it looks a bit kamikaze and people get a bit critical, but when it comes off it’s nice and it’s worth it.
“I’m hit or miss, but I like that.
“I feel that If I try and play that way I give myself a much better chance of winning. You can play a perfect safety game and lose anyway.”
Such is Lisowski’s impact this season that World Snooker chief Barry Hearn, unprompted, namechecks him as a player he has his eye on for major honours.
“Having natural ability is great,” says Hearn, “but you’ve still got to win and be consistent.
“The player that’s really interesting me is Jack Lisowski. He looks very good, as if he’s come of age.
“He and Kyren Wilson are two British newcomers that are making real progress when you look at the rankings.”
All of the understandable excitement surrounding Lisowksi should be tempered by the fact that he is yet to actually win a professional competition.
But while he says that winning any ranking title “sooner rather than later would be a great achievement”, it is also surely an inevitable consequence of the breakthrough that he already made.
“I’ve got my foot in the door now,” he says.
“I want to do well in every event I play in. I can’t prioritise them – every event is big to me now.
“I like the way it’s going.”
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