Mark Joyce and Matt Selt are the two unfamiliar faces to have qualified for the Grand Prix.

So, who are they?

Joyce, 26, is a former grammar school boy who first rose to prominence by winning the 2001 European under 19 title.

He also won the English amateur open in 2005 and snooker’s oldest title, the English Amateur Championship, in 2006.

Having finished fifth on the PIOS tour, that year he was promoted to the ranking event circuit.

Like every other player, he found it tough but kept his place after the first season, although he was helped by his scheduled opponent in one round of the World Championship qualifiers, Robin Hull, pulling out.

Joyce made his TV debut at the 2007 Grand Prix but this year’s event sees his first appearance in the last 32 of a ranking tournament.

He has got himself up to 57th in the rankings but his best performance on the circuit to date was reaching the Masters qualifying final last year, where he lost 6-1 to Judd Trump.

Joyce has been consulting a psychologist in an attempt to get off his chest all the feelings he was hitherto internalising. Maybe that was a factor in his qualification for Glasgow.

He has one of the hardest possible draws in the shape of world champion John Higgins, who is defending the crown he won last season.

Even so, Joyce’s mates at the Masters Club in Walsall will be cheering him on when he tackles the Wishaw Wizard on Saturday.

Selt is 24 and has suddenly come to life this season. To qualify for the final stages of a ranking tournament from the very first round is an impressive achievement. To do it in two successive events is excellent.

Yet Selt has done so in both the Shanghai Masters and the Grand Prix, where he was 4-0 down to Jordan Brown in his first match.

He plays at the Grove Snooker Club in Romford and is a sometime practice partner of Ronnie O’Sullivan, which has obviously helped his game.

Selt qualified from the PIOS tour in 2007. A year later he was the subject of a WPBSA disciplinary inquiry as to whether he offered an opponent a bribe to lose a match on the game’s secondary circuit.

Selt was cleared of the charges.

The incident doesn’t seem to have affected his playing career. Quite the opposite, in fact.

However, Selt now needs to gain experience of playing on TV. Against John Higgins in Shanghai he looked ill at ease, which was entirely understandable.

He fancies his chances against Stephen Hendry as he says the seven times champion is “coming in cold.”

Actually, he isn’t. He’s been playing in the Premier League and even if he’s not at the top of his game still has more than enough experience to cope with a nervous newbie.

Both Joyce and Selt have earned showpiece ties against two legends of snooker from their hard work in the qualifiers.

Whether they can go any further in the game will depend to a large degree on how they acquit themselves in matches such as these.


Anonymous said...

Was looking at the betting for the grand prix. Bookies as usual seem to have the 1st round matches covered with tight odds - not giving much in my opinion.

My pick for value for winner is Shaun Murphy, boyle sports have him at 9-1. Ronnie is something like 13-4. I think with Murphy you always get 100% outta him, his 'b' game is very strong, although can sruggle at latter stages getting over the line, still good value in my opinion.

Any thoughts ?

Dave H said...

I think it's very hard to pick an outright winner with the randon draw format but O'Sullivan tends to play well in spells so I'd say he's worth supporting along with Higgins and, as an outsider, Matthew Stevens, whose form is quietly returning

Top-Cat said...

These are the odd at ladbrokes

R O'Sullivan 9/4
J Higgins 7/1
S Murphy 7/1
M Selby 10/1
S Maguire 10/1
Ding Junhui 16/1
A Carter 18/1
N Robertson 22/1
R Day 25/1
Liang Wenbo 28/1
M Fu 28/1
M Allen 28/1
J Cope 33/1
K Doherty 40/1
M Stevens 40/1
R Walden 40/1
S Hendry 40/1
M Williams 50/1
J Perry 66/1
P Ebdon 100/1
S Bingham 100/1
I McCulloch 125/1
M King 125/1
G Greene 150/1
J Burnett 150/1
Marcus Campbell 150/1
N Bond 150/1
R Milkins 150/1
B Pinches 200/1
Matthew Selt 200/1
M Davis 300/1
Mark Joyce 500/1

Mark Allen and Jamie Cope good e-w bets.

Sammy said...

Good luck to them both, nice to see Joyce qualify.

Betty Logan said...

Obviously with Ronnie and Higgins both showing form at Shanghai then they've got to be the pick here. Murphy doesn't seem to do too well in short tournament formats - 3 rankers with two of them being the WC and UK. There is a huge gap between these three and the rest.

However, there have been a fair number of virgin wins over the years and Wenbo seems to be coming to boiling point so it wouldn't be a surprise if he did the business here.

mathsisfun said...

Stephen Hendry might be worth a punt after his win against Robertson in the Premier League. Could have given him some much needed confidence, especially after finishing it with a century.

Anonymous said...

Ebdon 100/1 when 3 ranking tournaments ago he was the winner!!!!!!!!