Winning a major title early in the season, especially with it being his first, has seen Anthony McGill recalibrate his goals upwards for the current campaign.
For many years McGill has had to shoulder the burden of being labelled ‘Scotland’s next big thing’ given the stellar achievements of the likes of Stephen Hendry and John Higgins.
But the 25-year-old has always managed to detach himself from the hype, aided by good counsel from mentor Alan McManus and a degree of self-possession essential in snooker.
He may have fallen at the quarter-final stage of the World Open in Yushan, but that marked another solid result coming after lifting the trophy at the Indian Open earlier in July.
After an impressive start to his professional career the bandwagon stalled somewhat for McGill for a couple of seasons.
But confidence levels were boosted by a run to the last eight at the Crucible in 2015, featuring an impressive win over then defending world champion Mark Selby.
And McGill has been able to kick on again, culminating in that first significant trophy and a career-high ranking of No18 in the world ahead of the World Open.
McGill said: “The title was a big milestone and a major step for me in the right direction. I don’t want to talk it down, it gave me some great memories – but it is done now.
“I know what it is – a big step – and also what it isn’t, something that means I have cracked it, or won a world title, the UK or a Masters.
“But it was a professional tournament, I had a very hard draw and proof to myself things are going the way I want.
“Winning a ranking title was on my list for this season, and I did it by July. I have not really one to set targets in the past, but in the summer I had a think about it.
“And I did set some, winning a ranking event was one and it hasn’t taken me too long so I am really pleased with that.
“It was only the second main event of the season and there is virtually a whole season ahead with a lot of tournaments on offer this time.
“So I think I need to re-set my goals a bit for this season, because I don’t want to let the season drift thinking ‘I have already won one’.
“It won’t be okay now if I go and lose early in most of the rest, so maybe I need to make my target two ranking titles this season. Success now this season would be more than the Indian Open.
“If I got to the Crucible and I hadn’t done anything else, I would be disappointed. The past is in the past, it’s gone. I have to keep it up.
“My level of self-confidence is quite high right now, I played some really nice snooker out in India and beat some really good players.
“I have improved since the World Championship and put in a lot of practice over the summer.
“It’s funny, I watched a lot of press conferences as players were losing at the Crucible, and it was such a common theme they were going to put their cue away and have a month off.
“I’m not one to say what others should do, you do what works for you, but for me you don’t get any better by sitting down, or by playing golf.
“What works for one doesn’t work for all, but I practised very hard over the summer and I’d like to think the title shows it paid off.
“People might wonder why I did that, but great as the Crucible is you have a lot of time on your hands and was interested to watch players’ reactions on Youtube, you get insights.
“Snooker is a game that gets you very down and disappointed, it can be a brick wall and you have got tired of banging your head against it.
“But if things aren’t going right you don’t want to have too much time off. Get a loss out of the system, then find your game for the new season.”
McGill has always maintained a level of good humour over the continual questions about the achievements of fellow Scots Hendry, Higgins, Dott and Maguire.
He may or may not go on to emulate some or none of them in the title stakes, but a modest outlook suggests one trip to the winners’ enclosure will not see McGill losing his poise.
And he insists that even when progress in the rankings and in events seemed a distant dream in brutal qualifying tournaments, the belief and philosophy never wavered.
He added: “The achievements of Stephen Hendry and John Higgins have been raised with me all my career – but it just isn’t an issue.
“Guys like that, Stephen and John, they are two of the best players in the history of the game. Ever.
“I don’t see myself in that league. Maybe if I was a different person, more cocky and more arrogant, I would go round saying I was as good as them.
“And then I might have felt the pressure of living up to those boasts – but I have never done that.
“The expectations seem purely to be based on the fact that I was born a Scot, and they were Scottish too, an accident of birth.
“If Luca Brecel had been born in Scotland rather than Belgium they’d be saying the same about him, but he is the first big name from his country.
“But what they achieved has got nothing to do with me and my career, and I have honestly never taken any notice of it whatsoever.
“India was a big step in the right direction for me, it was a victory in a professional tournament, but there is more I want to achieve.
“I did struggle for a couple of years on tour after a good start. I won a match, then lost one, all season.
“But you always want things quicker and improving as a snooker player is like climbing a mountain – more Mount Everest than Ben Nevis as well.
“It is not smooth, it is rough and bumpy, you go up a bit then down a bit, but gradually get there in the end.”
McGill could reasonably be identified as one of snooker’s new ‘Rack Pack’, along with Kyren Wilson, and Judd Trump, Michael White and even younger Luca Brecel and Oli Lines.
Of the emerging new rivalries he said: “I have noticed the age groups recently, they are quite distinct. There are a lot around 45 years old still, then your O’Sullivan, Higgins and Williams just gone past 40.
“Then there are the Murphy, Robertson, Maguire and Selby group. And now there is myself, Kyren, Michael White, Jack Lisowski, Laim Highfield.
“In the UK there doesn’t seem to be a flood coming through behind us, unlike China where there are really good teenagers doing damage already.
“But I view Kyren as a real danger and rival in the future. His all-round game is very strong, his temperament is strong, and he just seems a clever player full of confidence.
“He is going to take some stopping when on form. Michael White is the same and has also won a ranking tournament.
“And just a bit younger than us are Oli Lines, who looks a real player, and Luca Brecel. I’m not sure too many other 24/25 year olds you haven’t heard of will now burst through from nowhere.
“What is exciting looking at some of these guys is that I don’t think I am at my peak yet, so neither are they.
“At 30, even mid-30s, you have gained lots more experience, you are a better player, but your eyes have still got another good few years.
“The days of someone coming through and blowing everyone away at 18 and 19 like Higgins and O’Sullivan did are gone, they were special, once every never players.
“Experience plays a big part for us mortals, even the Chinese wonder-kids find it tougher.
“I am delighted to win one at 25, Kyren has done that, and Michael, and we won’t be at our peak for 5-10 years, so we can challenge for a long time.
“Me and Kyren turned pro the same year through the same qualifying. He fell off tour but since he got back on he hasn’t looked back and we should be crossing swords for a while.”