Mark Selby won one of the matches of last season when he once again demonstrated his ability to deal with pressure in high stakes situations.

Selby’s recovery from 9-6 down to beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-9 and land a second Wembley Masters title was proof of his big match temperament.

A second comeback against O’Sullivan in the Crucible quarter-finals a couple of months later further enhanced this reputation.

Selby’s problem isn’t the big occasions. Quite the opposite, in fact: he seems to struggle in earlier rounds, which helps to explain why, for a second successive season, he went down the rankings.

Two years ago the Leicester man was the world no.4. He slipped to seventh and is now ninth.

The new rankings system affords him the chance to rise up quicker than before but if he endures the same start to the current campaign as he did to the one just gone he’ll continue his slide.

Then again, here are the six players he lost to in ranking events last season: Stuart Bingham, Ken Doherty, O’Sullivan, John Higgins, Ding Junhui and Graeme Dott. No shame in any of those defeats.

Also, he suffered from the Bahrain Championship fiasco of 2008 but – and isn’t it funny how things turn out? – he will end up benefiting from it because when the points come to be dropped later in the year he won’t have any to lose.

But why is it he still only has one ranking title to his name? Well, the obvious reason is that there have been so few of late and the standard is such that winning one is an achievement in itself.

Even so, there is currently a gap between his reputation with his fellow players – they regard him as one of the very best of the current era – and his record of achievement in ranking events.

I’m certain this will change and it will probably change this season. I believe Selby is a good enough player to be world champion.

Furthermore, I don’t believe he merits the criticism he sometimes gets for being slow. He isn’t slow. If you think he is, dig out a video of some of snooker’s proper grinders from years gone by.

He was perfectly comfortable with the 25 second per shot time limit in the Premier League two years ago, where he reached the final, and was unlucky not to be invited back last season. He’s in it this year and must be a big favourite to reach the play-offs because, again, the tournament has a big match feel to it due to the crowds and general atmosphere.

Selby may have employed a tactical game to his benefit at times. So what? Why shouldn’t he? It’s a perfectly acceptable game plan to play to your own strengths rather than those of your opponent.

The point is, he can switch between attack and defence with deadly effect in a similar vein to Higgins.

His break-building skills are evident for all to see. He has twice compiled five centuries in a match at the Crucible. The only others players to do this more than once are Stephen Hendry, Higgins and O’Sullivan.

In winning the PTC event yesterday he made a total of eight century breaks.

Off table, Mark is a normal, down to earth guy without pretensions. As far as I’m aware he is obliging with fans when it comes to autographs and pictures.

He makes an effort to promote himself and is - unbelievably - the only top player who regularly writes a blog for his official website (although O'Sullivan has started one in Chinese for Sohu.com).

Like most players, Selby just wants to play and, despite all the ‘Jester from Leicester’ stuff, wants to win.

I’d be amazed if he wasn’t winning major silverware this season.


Anonymous said...

On his run to the final of the Worlds in 2007 Selby was painfully ponderous on a large number of straightforward safety shots especially in the quarter and semi finals which gave the 'slow' impression mainly I believe due to the occassion. Since then he has speeded up on his slower shots and finally convinced me last season that he plays at a reasonable pace in the safety exchanges. I suspect people consider him slow primarily due to that initial impression in 2007. The best of luck to him in the future season, I for one considered him a one ranking wonder and thought he would slide back down but last season he has proved me wrong. Well done Mark.

Anonymous said...

Selby suffers from the Ronnie brigade ALMOST all hating him. Plese note the word ALMOST in the last sentence. If (more than a handful of) Ronnie fans were a little less biased then Selby would be seen for what he is, a fantastic player (and an absolute gentleman as well). Onwards and upwards for Mark!

Betty Logan said...


Selby seems to have attracted a bit of a cult following, but I suspect most of his fanboys draw from Ronnie's detractors. I seriously don't think you can be a true snooker fan if you condone Selby's tactics.

Ebdon was labelled a cheat by The Times for deploying stalling tactics against Ronnie at the 2005 WC; Ebdon sued and lost. However, Ebdon's tactics were positively tame compared to the tactics Selby has since adopted. The 2007 final was the first time I saw Selby slow the game down to a painstaking pace, but at the time I put this down to him being a nervous debutante. In the three years since we have come to know better.

We can all remember him using these tactics to devastating effect against Ronnie in the Welsh Open final. In last year's Masters the final was mind-numbingly boring as Ronnie decided to give Selby a dose of his own medicine, and in the process destroying a final that is usually a showpiece event on the snooker calender. In this year's Masters final, Selby's average shot time was 25 seconds a shot and Virgo cynically remarked that "this is fast for Mark Selby".

Sometimes players have slow techniques such as Graeme Dott and Chris Small, so the question is why is Selby so maligned compared to them? Some players have techniques that are longer to execute. Their slowness isn't a tactic to deliberately throw off an opponent's game. Similarly with Davis and Doherty, while not particularly slow executers their tactical game can cause a match to become a long drawn out affair. Again though, if shot selection leads to a match being slowed down that is a legitimate tactic. What Selby does though, is prolong the period of time prior to playing a shot, even on some on the simplest shots. There is no excuse for him taking so long to get down and play the shot. It is deliberate, and it is gamesmanship. Steve Davis would sometimes do it it in a couple of frames to throw Alex Higgins and Jimmy off their stride, but doing it on nearly every shot in nearly every frame goes far beyond acceptable gamesmanship. Ebdon did it and was branded a cheat, but Selby goes far beyond Ebdon's tactics.

To be continued...

Betty Logan said...


The referees should have given him warnings but I notice there is a reluctance for referees to use their judgement and warn a play these days. They are even reluctant to use their judgement in something like the miss rule so I guess it's no surprise that they overlook Selby's antics. Perhaps they fear rebuking the top players will cost them the big matches! I hope Hearn will come down on Selby over the ensuing season and stamp out the delaying tactics.

As a player he is a good solid top 16 possibly top 8 player. He is good under pressure, he is possibly the best tactician of his generation, but his technique is poor which leads to patchy scoring. As such it places him behind players like Robertson, Ding and Murphy as the players you would expect to win titles. I think he will win another ranker at some point, but the sheer length of the world championship tests consistency and his technique can't stand that sort of examination; there will always be someone better at Sheffield and as such I would be surprised if he won the world chamionship.

It's interesting to note where his achievements have been: two Masters titles from three finals, the Premier League final and one ranking title. His success seems to come away from the ranking circuit, and I wonder if that's because his stalling tactics yield more reward against the flowing top ranked players. The journeymen, the qualifiers are battle hardened and are happy scrapping it out. You can't imagine someone like Dave Harold or Mark King becoming unstuck by his opponent's stalling tactics in the way someone like Ding or Ronnie would. I think that's the reason he hasn't reached a ranking final the last couple of seasons. At this year's WC it was another grinder in Dott - a player who can scrap it out in broken play - that knocked him out.

My one fear is that if players see Selby win stuff like the Masters we might end up with more players adopting this unwelcome tactics, which could result in a shot clock at The Crucible - something none of the purists want to see!

It could be that the rolling ranking system will see Selby out of the top 16 by Christmas because I don't see success coming in the form of a ranking title, and hopefully it will be a wake-up call - the Premier League showed he can be successful at a normal pace. His opponents are on to him now which will reduce his chances of winning a ranker even further, and I feel that he's going to have to alter his approach at a fundamental level to enjoy consistent success in ranking tournaments. He's good enough to be top 8, and that make's him good enough to win titles, but it's time for him to work on his technique (with some helpful tips from Mr Hey You) and put his faith in his talent.

Betty Logan said...


My one fear is that if players see Selby win stuff like the Masters we might end up with more players adopting this unwelcome tactics, which could result in a shot clock at The Crucible - something none of the purists want to see!

It could be that the rolling ranking system will see Selby out of the top 16 by Christmas because I don't see success coming in the form of a ranking title, and hopefully it will be a wake-up call - the Premier League showed he can be successful at a normal pace. His opponents are on to him now which will reduce his chances of winning a ranker even further, and I feel that he's going to have to alter his approach at a fundamental level to enjoy consistent success in ranking tournaments. He's good enough to be top 8, and that makes him good enough to win titles, but it's time for him to work on his technique (with some helpful tips from Mr Hey You) and put his faith in his talent.

Betty Logan said...

Sorry about the consecutive posts, but I had to break it up so it would post.

Dave H said...

Ebdon did not lose a libel action with the Times: he withdrew it

The reason Selby hasn't been labelled a 'cheat' is because he quite obviously isn't one

jamie brannon said...

I still think Selby is slow in comparison to the a large chunk of today's players though.

Also, Graeme Dott said at the Crucible that Selby plays negative saftety, in the sense that he is reluctant to open up the pack.

There is nothing wrong with his style, I also feel he is a future world champion, but in terms of entertainment value he is not as great to watch as the more silky smooth cuemen. However, he is just as a proficient as nearly all of them. You don't need to be silky to be just as effective. I n tennis Federer is the beautician, while Nadal who is basically just as good plays with far less panache, but if he stays healthy could even threaten Federer's grand slam record.

Anonymous said...

Selby didn't ruin the Masters final. he played the way he needed to play to win.

This happens in all sports but it only seems to be snooker fans - or at least some of them - who are too stupid to understand it.

jamie brannon said...

I don't agree with Betty though, what Mark does is reasonable, just not brilliant to watch. Ebdon in 2005 and only on this occasion brought the game into disrepute - well he should have been charged with that.

Ebdon is not slow compared to the 'golden era'.

Anonymous said...

I love it when people say 'you can't be a proper snooker fan unless you agree with me and my narrowminded point of view'

Shows a level of complete delusion...

Anonymous said...

I think Selby gets a bit of a hard time, if what he was doing was slow play, he'd be warned about it. Selby is only doing what he feels he needs to do to win. It's not nice to watch but as he proved in last night's PTC final (and the 2008 Masters) when he gets on a roll hwe can be unstoppable

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Selby is tactically v.astute - one of the best.

But his flaw is the slightly slower pace he takes to play shots most players see within the first 10seconds.

All well and good having him on the circuit, as it's nice to have blend of different styles.

But, if the top 16 had a few more Selbys in it, am afraid the game would lose. And that is just the way it is in today's sporting climate. Spectators want to be entertained!

Btw, funny how, when Ebdon speeded up his game,somewhat,at the UK a few years back,he played really good snooker and won it.Similar to when he beat Davis at the worlds in 1992.

Thanks, Joe

Anonymous said...

Well done Betty on posting 1million words which i didnt bother reading after you got the Ebdon losing agaisnt the times WRONG!

hopefully others who read this blog stick to factual things dave posts and not some of the drivel (masked as 'in the know' due to having 1 million words) that some post.

Selby doesn't break rules, otherwise he would be reprimanded. If Ronnie or any other player doesnt like his style or time he takes to play then they can moan all they want. Selby should just complain Ronnie plays too fast and he doesnt get much of a sit down between visits. If you can complain about one style you can about the other!

CHRISK5 said...

From Ronnie's perspective - Selby would seem like a slow grinder.

In comparison to Charlton,Thorburn,
Griffiths - Mark Selby plays at a reasonable,average tempo.

There is a chasm between his big match temprament & the fact he only has one ranking title so far.

I think the PTC events will help Selby enormously - in terms of winning matches without a big crowd or having to always play Ronnie to bring out the best of him.

Sport careers are full of ifs & buts - However,it's valid to say that if he didn't lose 12-13 to John Higgins in the 2009 Worlds - he was in the type of form where he could have clinched the Title that year.

Now,with so many more tournaments on the calendar - I fully expect Mark Selby to add to his tally -
The question is whether it will be more Masters Titles,other ranking events or potentially becoming World Champion - he has the allround game,but as said,so have several other players.

Graeme Dott demonstrated how you can play quicker & be just as effective - maybe Selby could look at that as a good example - if he were to ever tinker with his game.

In the coming years - it will be fascinating to see how the balance of power evolves between Robertson,Ding,Murphy,Selby & Allen.

John McBride said...

For me, Mark Selby is the real deal. You've touched on what the gap 'was' in his career, being somehow turning up on the big stage, having his back against the wall, against anyone, delivering, & then somehow not motivating himself in the same way in the early rounds of the comps. Its like he's looking at himself in the mirror playing in the earlier rounds, expecting the players to do what he does against him, when he gets to the business end of competitions.

I'd like to think he's now found that out about himself, he understands just how good he is & can maintain the very high standards that he does do under so much pressure with it.

For me, the match up I'm looking forward too most next season is Mark Selby & Neil Robertson. Two hard match players that I think, are going to thrown up some absolute classics in not only the season to come, but the next few seasons too. Good Luck to them both.

John McBride

Betty Logan said...

It doesn't sound like Ebdon withdrew his action according to this story:


So what exactly happened there? Did Peter Ebdon withdraw his complaint or did the ruling going against him, because The Times write the story as if it were the latter?

CHRISK5 said...

I don't know what the fuss is about
the 2005 W.Champs QF was just a
sporting contest.

Ronnie & Ebdon buried the hatchet very quickly afterwards & got on again like civilised adults.

They even practised together at
Rushden Snooker Club - just prior to the 2006 World Championships !

Commentators,anaylsts etc are trying to invent divisions that
actually don't exist !

Anonymous said...

i think its time this shot clock myth is put to bed.

shot clock does not quicken a frame it quickens shots so a player can play 25 minute a shot all night and the frame never ends because they don't pot anything.

Marco Fu in last years Prem League showed us all that shot clock snooker can drag on just as much as any.

Anonymous said...

is it just me but the fine art hasnt said anything . i was hoping i would hear that even though selby moves from side to side while cueing up he has still had success . there is no such thing as a perfect action .mark proves that and can still win.

Anonymous said...

Selby or any other player can take as long as he likes until the referee warns him

If other players and their supporters can't handle it this is a reflection on them, not him

Betty Logan said...

Unfortunately it's a reflection on the game as well, and if audiences can't handle it they simply don't watch.

Anonymous said...

fine farty probably has copyright on The Selby Sway. Lets face it TFAM is a load of crap and the guy posting about it talks as much crap in his posts, claiming laws of physics are wrong etc..

Anonymous said...


i have issue if people cant handle watching Selby Play then Find something else to do.

Selby is a fascinating player to watch you got everything with him. if you are a snooker fan then Selby is what you want to see.

Anonymous said...

couple of points,

don't think ronnie did forget the 05 defeat to ebdon.following season at masters, he let ebdon sit in his sit for 12 mins,whilst he took a break in the middle of the frame.

Selby isn't anymore or anyless fascinating then any other player circuit. fact!

jamie brannon said...

Before they met at the UK last season O'Sullivan said he wished Ebdon would get on with it. He was being a touch sarcastic I think as he also said he would like to see Ken Doherty in a thong!

Anonymous said...

i detest it when people post THEIR OWN OPINION and then state it as FACT.

makes them appear rather sad...

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Betty Logan @ 5:52 pm and Hello Dave.
Thanks for the plug lass! I hope you realise that you could be shot at dawn and from different directions for this plug.
About Mark Selby and spoiling tactics. Sadly the beautiful game is reduced to winning with no thought or consideration for viewers on or off TV.

The snooker industry is full of “Coaches” all saying the exact same words differently. Does Mark know he is deploying “Spoiling Tactics”?
Does the lad know why he plays some days with five “Insa and Outsays” and another shot or days plays with three “Ins and outsays”?

Without sounding pedantic Betty a player should know why he plays with three addresses four or a dozen like Mr Ebden.
Mark could possible be taken credit for some victories for a dilatory way of playing. It may sound silly lass but players collectively don’t know what they are doing right, or wrong when a shot is unsuccessful.

For the record Betty! Players “Never” aim wrong it’s always a fault in technique. If Jimmy White had annualised his game in full detail and had it copyrighted the whole world would be playing the “Jimmy White” method.
The player “Off the boil” is probable only stealing an extra inch on the back swing. Mr Hey You

Anonymous said...

jeez, more fine rubbish.

and Jamie, well done on your perception!

Doyle said...

Make no bones about it Selby is a great player, his style might not be everybody's cup of tea but he has proved himself a winner at the highest level not everybody is a White O'Sullivan or Hendry as far as speed is concerned and he has the ability to change tactics dependent on whom he is playing that is a huge asset and maybe the nugget is the only other player with that ability.Regarding the World Championship anyone who can beat the Rocket at Wembley can win at the Crucible.
Ian Doyle

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Dave
How are you! Congratulations on the new blog member “Ian Doyle”. I wonder if he is the son or grandson of the Doyle “Snooker Stable” in Stirling.
Ian was a Highland Gentleman always open to his player’s whims, especially if the grass seemed sweeter or greener elsewhere.

Ian Doyle of long ago was the first “Notable” person to endorse “Snooker The Fine Art Method” after perusing through my many videos. Ian merely inferred in his letter that it was good and to find a “Supplier”.

Snooker was in turmoil in that period Dave as the job of coaching snooker was a greater money spinner than earnings from tournaments. Plus the only coaching method was the copyright books by Joe Davis which were ignored or declared “Null and Void” by a Mr “Somebody”.

Sadly Dave this brings us back to the WPBSA disciplinary problems again. Mr Hey You

Anonymous said...

someday, sometime, Mr Hey You will realise HE is a NOBODY in the grand scheme of things to do with pro snooker and the fine art crap he spouts. heres hoping his computer breaks or dave sees some sense and stops posting his mostly off topic nonsense

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Mr somebody @ 6:54am. Hello Dave.
Yes mister X, I am a “complete nobody”.

I left Saint Columbus in Greenock at twelve! I was persuaded back at thirteen under the threat of the “Birch” and left school officially at fourteen. As you have said mister X a nobody Sir but why condemn a different way to play and coach snooker?

Seriously mister is there a “Reason” why the game shouldn’t expand and teach entertaining snooker; please Sir say why and I’ll stop this line of posting.

Seriously again Mister! Do you agree with selling coaching diplomas without seeking permission of the copyright owners? Selling anything that doesn’t belong to you is a crime mister even if you love snooker.

This problem won’t go away Mr until we have an infusion of honesty. Mr Hey You

Anonymous said...

Hey you, i dont have a problem with you spouting any lot of rubbish about any method of coaching, but i am an avid follower of daves blog and have been for longer than most id imagine. i dont like seeing new comments and then read its from you and its not on topic (almost all the time) and it is packed with things nobody (very very few) on here care to read about.

now, if you were rallying on other websites in appropriate ares of forums etc... then id choose to not read your crap, but on here i see there are comments and i dont get to see they are from you until i open them.

it may seem trivial, but you certainly P off people on here more than you do make friends or gather significant support from what you achieve.

if i was dave id do a bit of the fine art method and alllow posts of that nature, and from thereonin id just not publish any of your posts that do mention it, or are off topic.

(sorry dave for being off topic)

Anonymous said...

Betty Logan - what complete and utter drivel you write. Seriously. What a waste of effort on your part.

From a genuine snooker fan and a passionate Selby fan.