PSB Interview: Anthony McGill Looks Ahead to the New Season

Scotland has had its fair share of champion snooker players during the past 20 years and hoping to become the latest is 20-year-old Anthony McGill who begins his second season on the main tour this week. Click below for his thoughts on last season, the new campaign and why he needs a new nickname…

So Anthony you have now completed your first season on the professional circuit, how do you look back on your debut campaign? What were the highlights?

My first season was a mixture of good and bad. I started very well, had some good wins in the PTC’s, most notably over the likes of Stephen Hendry and Stephen Maguire, but also against a few lower down ranked players (still ranked higher than me!) like Alan McManus, Dave Harold, Michael Holt and Tom Ford which were good wins for me.

I finished the season terribly losing quite a few matches in a row. So overall I suppose it was OK, nothing special. I stayed on which was the main target.

Looking back is there anything that you could have done differently or any particular lessons that you learned during your maiden pro season?

Well I feel I practiced well throughout the season, maybe a little too much as I felt tired towards the end. So maybe a Christmas break this time round.

Lesson learned would be to always believe in myself, because I went on a bad run at the end and it really affected my confidence, which in turn affected my performances. So I must remember the positives even when things are going bad.

At the 2011 World Championship qualifiers

How did you find playing in front of the cameras at the Shoot Out?

Well I loved it although to be honest, I can’t remember noticing the cameras. Just loved being part of the fun, I was just glad I didn’t fall down the stairs at the start!

What have you been doing to occupy yourself since the end of last season? How have you prepared for the new campaign?

Well I took 3 weeks off, but really the World Championships were on TV so I was watching that most of the time. I can’t get away from the game! Been back playing now for about 5-6 weeks and I feel I’m starting to play pretty well, I’m getting good practice against Marcus Campbell and Alan McManus, as well as John Higgins and Stephen Maguire now and then. So I feel I’m prepared well.

So as we talk the start of the 2011/12 season is upon us, are you looking forward to the start of the season, do you have any targets for the campaign with respect to either the rankings or any specific tournaments?

Well I’d like to get a few good results under my belt right away to get some confidence back as I was mentioning.

I finished the season 59, so obviously looking forwards and not backwards, I would like by the end of the season to be inside the top 48. I would like to win at least a match in the UK and World Championships this time round too!

At the 2011 Pink Ribbon

Obviously the calendar is now much bigger than it used to be, are you excited by the path that snooker is taking at the moment? Particularly for you as one of the younger players on the tour.

Yes I’m loving being even a small part of it all. Barry’s done an excellent job and the new territories the game is moving into is very exciting. Being a younger player with no commitments, I’m giving it 100% and when one tournament finishes it’s great knowing you’ve got another in a week or two. Brilliant!

What are your opinions on the PTC events? Do you plan on entering them all this time around?

I entered them all last time round! I love them, they only last three days, so you’re not away for long, plenty of matches against some of the best players in the world and money and ranking points to be won. Great!

How are you finding the task of meeting your expenses to cover the PTCs, do you think that this is an area that could be improved upon in the future and if so how?

Well I’m extremely fortunate in that I have a sponsor. But for the players lower down the rankings who don’t it must be a struggle. It’s a catch 22 – more tournaments, more chance to win more money, but on the other hand it’s more expense! But like I say in my case I’m very lucky I don’t have to worry about that.

During the 2008 European U-19’s Championship

Turning to yourself, for those reading who have perhaps not seen you play before, how would you describe your style of play?

Well I’m certainly no Judd Trump (haha). I try to play the game in a positive manner, but it depends on form. If I’m playing well I’m likely to take on a few more than if I’m struggling where I’ll keep it tighter.

Obviously you have had a very successful junior career, do you feel like you came onto the tour at the right time? Bearing in mind what has happened in snooker during the past year it suddenly looks to have been a blessing in disguise that you could not make it for the season before last!

Well I was one match away from qualifying for the tour in 2008 and 2009. So was very close both years. But being only six or seven tournaments then, it certainly helped me that I didn’t qualify, and that I qualified when I did because there were so many tournaments last season. More tournaments means more experience so it was great for me.

In particular you were also one of the main beneficiaries from the new rolling rankings system, what are your thoughts on that?

Yes definitely. After the first cut-off I was in the top 64 and stayed there for the rest of the season, mainly thanks to the PTC’s as I didn’t do too well in the main events. I think the rolling rankings are great as they reward the players on form, and if you’re not on form you fall down the rankings. I didn’t do well at the end of the season, so I fell down the rankings. But I’m fine with that because it’s fair.

At the 2011 Pink Ribbon

Towards the end of the season you enjoyed a good run to the final of the Scottish National Championship at your club in Glasgow, tell us a little about that event?

Yeah it was a great tournament. It was held at my home club, the Lucky Break in Clydebank. Five tables were removed and 200 tiered seats were installed which created a fantastic atmosphere, especially at the final.

It was full and there was another 100 people in the bar area, it was a fantastic place to be! I had two good wins over Graeme Dott and Stephen Maguire to reach the final, so it was a great way to end the season for me. If only there were ranking points!

Looking at the top of the game, your man John Higgins is clearly the man to beat at the moment, what is it about John that makes him so special?

Well every department of his game is so strong, it’s so hard to get anything out of him. If you put him in a tough spot and you think, “I’ve got him now”, he’ll put you in an even tougher situation which can sometimes be impossible to get out of. When he’s in the balls he’s an amazing break builder too. Very difficult to play against.

Anthony at the Pink Ribbon

How long do you think that John can continue to dominate for? Who do you see as his main challengers this season, anyone aside from the obvious?

I don’t expect John to stop winning tournaments any time soon. I expect this season will see the usual contenders – John, Williams, Selby etc.

Aside from yourself, is there anyone in particular that you fancy to break through of the younger players?

Well I think there are some very good young players right now. Obviously the main one is Jack Lisowski who very deservedly won Rookie of the Year. Then you’ve got Liam Highfield, Michael White, Sam Craigie is just coming on.

Am I allowed to mention myself? Haha!

How about your fellow Scots, who should we be looking out for to join you on the professional circuit during the coming seasons?

Well there are a few good young players in Scotland at the moment.  The stand out ones in my opinion being Scott Donaldson, Michael Leslie, Rhys Clark, Eden Sharav and Ross Muir.  There are also a couple of 12-13 year olds who could improve lots in the future I’m sure.

At the Pink Ribbon once again

Finally longer term, how do you see the next few seasons panning out for yourself? Do you have any particular targets or are you just taking each event as it comes?

Just take each as it comes, try and improve every season. I practice hard and against good players so hopefully I will reap the rewards.

And I have to ask you, does the ‘Tartan Nugget’ nickname that I have seen people use get the thumbs up or down from you?

Big time thumbs down! Don’t like it at all, maybe some of your readers can comment and recommend something new?!?!

Take it easy on me though please!


Thanks to Ant for his time and best of luck for the coming season.