Good things come to those who wait. And wait. And wait. And wait..
It would not be fraternising with hyperbole to suggest Jack Lisowski's ongoing stay in the tortuous waiting rooms of professional snooker has been one of the great oddities in a sport historically defined by time and chance.
Waiting to win a title in such a cut-throat era can take longer than 'Steady' Eddie Charlton sizing up a safety attempt back in the good old days, but these are the modern rules of engagement.
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The learned Lisowski certainly knows the meaning of patience in his single-minded pursuit of happiness.
Curiously dubbed 'Jackpot', 31-year-old Jack, fighting out of Cheltenham, is a left-hander whose technique is a mirror image of witnessing Ronnie O'Sullivan attack a snooker table. Compare the swing of 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott to Tiger Woods in his golfing pomp and you get the picture.
Lisowski shares the same traits as O'Sullivan in making snooker compulsive viewing. Like the ambidextrous world champion, he is also proficient with the opposite paw.
When Lisowski is in full flow, man and cue ball in perfect harmony becomes an almost cathartic experience. As demonstrated at the York Barbican by his 6-1 four-century filleting of Shaun Murphy in the UK Championship quarter-finals on Friday evening.
"Every time I made a small mistake, I had to sit down and admire the wondrous talent pouring out of this young man that we have seen coming for a long time," said the 2008 UK winner Murphy after watching his opponent join him as one of only eight men in history to punch out four straight tons in a match.
"Maybe this could be his week. It’s not easy winning, but if he can sustain that for another 16 frames he’ll be UK champion.”
Yet despite his propulsion for potting balls and a flawless technique to boot, something has gone awry.
For all the early promise and plaudits, Lisowski has yet to deliver in a way his talent demands since making his first century break at the age of 10. Not so much hitting the jackpot as being perched before a fruit machine agonisingly shy of the winning nudge.
If snooker has a nearly man, Lisowski is it.
An erudite thinker and a thoroughly pleasant human being, perhaps his biggest downfall is the theory that he vacates the present during key moments with mind wandering off like a lost cue ball in matches.
Unforced errors define the narrative of sport and especially snooker with Lisowski somehow boasting a CV full of final miscalculations.

‘That’s just terrific!’ - Ridiculous pot from Lisowski

Always the bridesmaid and all that jazz. Since turning professional in 2010, Lisowski has contested six major finals, but has yet to win one.
It would be fair to say he has not come terrifically close in any of those finals with his 10-7 defeat to Judd Trump – his close friend and three-time crusher of his dreams – in the 2020 World Grand Prix the finest margin having closed to 7-6 from 7-2 adrift.
Trump also did for him at the German Masters (2-9) and Gibraltar Open (0-4) last year with Neil Robertson – twice at the 2018 Riga Masters (2-5) and 2019 China Open (4-11) –and Mark Selby at the 2019 Scottish Open (6-9) denying him on the other three occasions.
This is hardly a litany of errors, but the recurring theme is similar to Jimmy 'Whirlwind' White in six world finals. The winning formula has so far eluded Spring-Heeled Jack, but the £250,000 first prize at the UK is suddenly within shooting distance before he meets a rejuvenated Mark Allen in the semi-finals on Saturday evening.
The challenge for such a thoroughbred is to become like Arkle at the Cheltenham Gold Cup in timing his winning run.
At odds of 5/2, it would not be a shock if the world No. 12 Lisowski romps to the UK title on Sunday night, but O'Sullivan is of a mind that what goes on between the ears is just as important as what is achieved with cue in hand.
“He could never look boring if he tried,” O'Sullivan told Eurosport. “You have two ends of the spectrum, the really slow and boring and really exciting. The slow and boring one has to speed up and the really fast one needs to rein it in a little bit.
“It’s not possible for Jack to not look good.
“A bit like a swan with its legs flapping under the water, that’s what Jack looks like a lot of the time. It looks great, but inside he’s feeling he has to play his best snooker to win when he needs to try and learn to cruise along a bit more.
"You don’t want him to play like Mark Selby. You want him to play like Jack Lisowski, but when you are in the balls and have those opportunities, don’t miss anything silly.
“It’s about taking what’s there, keeping it tight. Don’t try and bust the balls open at every opportunity. Nick a few out.
“He’s a creative player so is better off if the balls go scrappy as he can make a break from nowhere. When you have that snooker brain, use it.”

‘A quick kill’ - Lisowski makes rapid century on way to win over Vafaei

With Lisowski, what you see is what you get. He has recovered from fighting cancer in his teenage years to pursue perfection in cue craft and has made a real fist of it.
When you have to overcome such overriding health issues, perhaps his nonchalant air towards the false prophet of winning is understandable.
Lisowski is already a champion character outside of such trivial pursuits. Yet it would be entirely appropriate to see such a precocious sporting talent hoist a trophy above his head in York. And not before time.
Few players are afforded the gift of playing snooker the way it was meant to be played. In such a respect, he has already hit the jackpot.

UK Championship semi-finals (best of 11 frames)

Saturday November 19
  • 13:00
  • Ding Junhui v Tom Ford
  • 19:00
  • Mark Allen v Jack Lisowski
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