Mark Selby has already won the season’s two biggest titles and is world no.1 so heads to the Crucible as one of the bona fide favourites for the world title.

He has not dominated the campaign but that spell in December and January, when he also won a European Tour event in Germany, was evidence of his ability to roll up his sleeves and get stuck into winning titles. He wasn’t necessarily at full flight but he did what he had to. He won.

If Selby does the hat-trick he will join a very special club. Only Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry (twice) and Mark Williams have won the UK, Masters and world titles in the same season.

Selby has not lit up the circuit in recent tournaments but that may be a blessing in disguise because mental stamina is a must for the 17 day marathon of the mind.

What a difference a year makes. Last year he turned up in Sheffield unable to play properly due to a neck complaint. In 2013 he goes there with a great chance to seize the most famous trophy of them all.

Selby’s game is far from one dimensional. He can scrap things out, and often does. He can make things difficult. He can force his opponents to lose their rhythm.

But he can also score heavily. He is the only player ever to make six centuries in a match at the Crucible. For the last two seasons he has recorded more century breaks than anyone else.

This is a (Steve) Davis, (John) Higgins-like game which, allied to a big match temperament, makes Selby hard to beat.

But his great asset is also his attitude. He has a genuine love of snooker. He enjoys playing because he loves the game.

He may enjoy the financial rewards that come with the job but he isn’t in for this. He doesn’t obsess about prize funds. He doesn’t claim he’s worth more than he’s getting.

In short, he’s playing for the right reasons. He was even sat at home watching the qualifiers. I know this because he texted me to query an obscure fact I had given out.

He was right, I was wrong. He’s a fan as well as a player.

But for all this, winning the World Championship has eluded a long list of players who seem to have been good enough to win it. Only one player can triumph each year. Selby is in a tough quarter alongside Mark Allen and Ding Junhui and there’s no reason to suppose it will get any easier thereafter.

He often gets embroiled in close matches and wins many of them. He’s a master of brinkmanship but over the long Sheffield fortnight this will be mentally draining.

The World Championship is the greatest test of any player’s career. Is Selby really up to it?

This year we may find out one way or another. He has the titles and the game to suggest he can do it.

But, of course, he still has to do it, and there are plenty of talented cuemen standing in his way.


Anonymous said...

I never thought he could win it to be honest, but his UK and Masters wins this season have changed my mind. By keeping it very tight he reduces the chances his opponents gets, but it also reduces the chances he takes. It has served him well against lower ranked players, but it has been less effective at the business end of tournaments, where the top class players don't actually need that many chances to win matches anyway. Personally I think he's looking at a semi-final exit to Robertson, but you can't discount someone who has won two major tounaments this season.

Anonymous said...

Players play to their strengths. They have to in order to be the best that they can be. Selby certainly does and he deserves nothing but credit for his determination and application, the reward for which is the handsome tally of titles he has collected.
His style is less flamboyant and more methodical. Not likely to set the heather on fire. Then again, it's not how, but how many.
The magic formula for sponsors, promoters and fans alike is a player who possesses all the qualities mentioned but with the added panache and excitement that has spectators on the edge of their seats and the ability to ensure that viewing figures swell every time they are at the table.
O'Sullivan is peerless in this department. Trump has the crowd pleasing qualities in additional to his immense talent. The only player I see, however, that shows the promise to possibly take over from Ronnie (whenever that may be) is Jack Lisowski.
A prodigious talent, nonchalant style and attacking attitude combined with a maturity that belies his young years.
He is good news for snooker, very good news.

The Fish said...

Met Mark prior to the Masters final,abosoulte gentleman,took time out for a chat and was very pleasent.Not a big fan of his style of snooker,but it is very effectieve,no one better at winning scrappy frames and grinding out wins when need be.Hope he does well.

Anonymous said...

This years bet. Please make it entertaining.

Caesar said...

I reckon it'll be Ronnie vs Selby in the final. He's a great player who is massively misunderstood in his style of play.

Anonymous said...

Good blogging these last couple of weeks Dave .. gets my pre-crucible-juices flowing with anticipation.

Looking forward to your last piece in this series, on Trump.

Selby getting the triple crown in one season will certainly silence the doubters for good, but personally I think he won't be able to beat Robertson this time.

the last 6 world championships have been won by Higgins, O'Sullivan and Robertson. Add the other finalists to the equation and there's only 5 more people to choose from, with Trump and Selby favourite within that group of players.

Not wide open this year. Only 5 players with an actual chance imho.

Anonymous said...

Anybody know when will the Edbdon v Dott match start? Tables are usually in place by Friday.

Anonymous said...

re- The Golden Cue awarded by Betfair for the events highest break - If it's shared I hope the cue is a 2 piece Dave?

Anonymous said...

Selby is the best shot maker in the game. Shame more fans can't see past the fluency of O'Sullivan/Ding/Allen etc as to what makes good viewing.

Anonymous said...

I don't think so mate

Anonymous said...

9.56's been smoking some herbalised stuff, surely.
Selby sways like a tall Scots Pine and is slower than Ebdon's granny.

Anonymous said...

Yes you're right, swaying on the shot means he can't think of and execute shots others can't doesn't it? Idiot.