One of the unique things about the World Snooker Championship and its seeded draw is that there are high-quality games throughout the competition, with no easy contests for those seeking to get their hands on the trophy.
Mark Selby and John Higgins have won eight world titles between them, so to see the legendary pair do battle as early as the quarter-finals was a real treat for snooker fans at Sheffield’s iconic Crucible Theatre.
But it meant that one of the greats would depart the 2023 competition early, and on this occasion, it was Higgins who was on the losing end of a 7-13 defeat to the ‘Jester from Leicester’.
The Man to Beat
After such an impressive win – and the departure of former bookmakers’ favorite Ronnie O’Sullivan, who crashed out in the last eight, Selby has now been installed as the leader in the World Snooker Championship 2023 betting at odds of 11/10, with O’Sullivan conqueror Luca Brecel next best at 11/4, Mark Allen (Selby’s opponent in the semi-finals) at 3/1 and debutant Si Jiahui the outsider at 15/2.
“He’s the man to beat”
Mark Selby gets the better of John Higgins to reach the semi finals 📈@WeAreWST | #CazooWorldChampionship pic.twitter.com/DUiprI0R5n
— Eurosport (@eurosport) April 26, 2023
For Selby, the rest of the World Championship represents a date with destiny. He is seeking a fifth world title, which would take him above Higgins in the all-time standings – only Steve Davis, Ray Reardon, Stephen Hendry and O’Sullivan have lifted the trophy more times in the modern era.
It’s been a roller-coaster season of ups and downs for the 39-year-old, so if he could triumph in the final on May 1 it would be a poignant and significant moment for one of the most popular players in the game.
On the Up
For a player of his immense talent and stature in the sport, it’s amazing to think that Selby went well over a year without winning a title of any kind.
But he has improved in recent months, and like all good champions Selby appears to have peaked at exactly the right time heading into the Worlds.
A first-round exit from The Masters in January – a tournament he has reached the final of five times, winning three – hurt, but semi-final showings at the Champion of Champions and Tour Championship have been surpassed by two ranking event triumphs.
The first came at the English Open in December, where Selby took out the likes of Shaun Murphy, Neil Robertson and Ali Carter on his way to a final showdown with potential World Championship final rival Brecel.
He opened up a 4-1 lead before being pegged back by the Belgian to head into the evening session all square. But it was there that Selby’s class shone, winning four of the first five frames played and rattling in seven half-century breaks all told to complete a 9-6 victory.
SELBY IS YOUR CHAMPION! 🏆
Mark Selby beats Luca Brecel 9-6 to win the 2022 @BetVictor English Open, his first title for 19 months, and £80,000!#HomeNations 🏴 | @markjesterselby pic.twitter.com/qQ1m0oH3tI
— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) December 18, 2022
It was an emotional moment for Selby, who hadn’t won a major title on TV or anywhere else for that matter for more than 18 months.
He wouldn’t have to wait too long for his second, and it must have been even more satisfying that it came on home soil in Leicester. Selby clinched the WST Classic in March, defeating his old rival Higgins in the last eight, beating Carter in the semis before downing Pang Junxu 6-2 in the final.
So the curve is very much an upward one for Selby in 2023, and victory at the World Championship would be a fitting end to an outstanding ‘comeback’ year.Share on Facebook «||» Share on Twitter «||» Share on Reddit «||» Share on LinkedIn