Jack Lisowski has revealed he was forced to get a restraining order against an obsessed snooker stalker.
There is an intense spotlight on player safety and security at the Crucible after the Just Stop Oil protest on Monday saw activists invade the arena – with one covering a table in orange powder.
And world No13 Lisowski’s experiences - and with one fan above all – serve as a reminder to the sport of the darker side of being a celebrity.
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Initially Lisowski’s former management tried to protect and shield ‘Jackpot’, known for his fast and fluent style at the table – until it became clear further action was required.
Things came to a head four years ago, with police and lawyers involved in Germany where the fan was based, and security aware of the situation at UK tournaments.
At venues such as the Barnsley Metrodome wristbands were issued despite free entry to try and identify the individual.
Lisowski, who takes on Anthony McGill on Saturday in the last 16, said: “In snooker you get some people… it just attracts all sorts of people that watch you and maybe don’t know the boundaries. Not everyone thinks the same.
“It was an interesting period I had, and some very strange things happened to me. I had this one person – but a few players have had it, and worse I think.
“I was talking to Stephen Hendry about it, and he had some things in the past. Judd Trump has had some.
“Some fans just think differently. In terms of the worst moment… just all of it made me feel pretty creeped-out and uncomfortable.
“Emails, social media, in person – everything, and it was all a bit much. But that is part of it I suppose. You play snooker and go on the TV, and some brains out there work differently.
“In my case it went legal over in Germany and the police got involved. But it got sorted in the end.
“That one is over, but maybe if you are in the public eye and on television, it can happen to people in their careers. It’s not ideal, you wouldn’t want it, but you have to roll with those punches.
“I am just trying to win matches and titles, and doing my best to block anything else out. It can happen in sport, and it is just weird when it does.
“Weird things have happened to me, too weird, and I have had a few. But that was certainly one of them.”
Lisowski is still labouring under the unwanted tag of ‘best player never to win a ranking title’ having lost all six finals that he has reached.
And after getting his Crucible campaign up and running with a 10-7 first-round win against Noppon Saengkham, he could emulate Shaun Murphy in 2005 by making that first major success on the biggest stage.
Lisowski, who keeps knocking on the door and made three semi-finals earlier this season, added: “It is my seventh time at the Crucible now.
“I am getting more used to it, but it is always exciting coming here. Last year was a good run for me getting to the quarter-finals so it would be good to match or better that this time.
“I was able to experience more of this venue than ever and I would love another really good go at it this year, and just see what happens.
“You also know it can be all over quickly with even one very bad session. I agree with that some top players have been saying about no one playing out of their skins over the campaign.
“It has been one of the strangest seasons in many ways. Neil Robertson has been ill for a few tournaments and missed a couple, I can’t remember the last time he didn’t win a title.
“Ronnie O’Sullivan won the big one in Hong Kong and the Champion of Champions, but not done so well in the ranking tournaments.
“But for the worlds, generally the top players show up and there are signs of that for a lot of them in the first round. For me, the dream is still on.
“And if it all clicks I believe I am capable of winning it and I don’t think I could have said that this time last year.”
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