Mark Selby may be third in the world rankings – his highest ever position – as he starts the new campaign but he must surely look back on last season with a degree of disappointment.

He failed to win a major title despite reaching the finals of the German Masters and China Open.

Being at the business end of tournaments is great for a player’s ranking position but it’s titles they are ultimately remembered for.

At the World Championship Selby set a new Crucible record against Stephen Hendry with six centuries in a single match.

But his challenge waned against Ding Junhui in the quarter-finals and he once again left Sheffield having played at times really well but without the title.

In his cheerful way, Selby took all this on the chin but underneath there must be some anxiety that he is going a long way in tournaments but still not winning them. Remember, he still has only one ranking title to his name.

It’s hardly a career crisis but it will surely rankle a little with Selby that when he turns on the Premier League he won’t be in it, having not won a title last season.

So what’s going on?

Tony Blair, whose snooker background appears to be limited to a victory at Chequers over Vladimir Putin, once claimed he was ‘best when boldest.’ The same applies to Selby.

His attacking game and, more importantly, positive frame of mind has seen him deliver some first rate performances, and have helped him get through to the latter stages of tournaments.

There have been times, though, when he’s tightened up in semi-finals and finals and by his own admission gone a little negative. This is an observation, not a criticism. A player plays the way he feels most comfortable and it’s inevitable that when the heat is really on, caution comes to the fore.

If Selby was going for everything in these finals he could still have lost and then we’d be calling him reckless.

The trick for a player is to know when to attack and when to defend. John Higgins, for instance, is masterful at this sort of game, but when he sees a chance to win he grabs it (just look at the end of the world final when he doubled that pink).

I usually fancy Selby when a match goes close (yes, I am going to call him a master of brinkmanship again) but maybe too many matches go close and this saps his mental energy.

He seems to me to be a pretty strong character and that’s a good reason to back him to bounce back this season and play with a little more freedom at crunch moments in tournaments.

One thing I certainly commend Selby for is supporting the game in a professional way. He played in all the PTCs and next month will be in the Wuxi Classic, World Cup and Australian Open.

We’ll see plenty of him in the campaign to come and with so many tournaments this season it seems unlikely this great talent won’t win one of them.

But I thought that last season too.


garymoss87 said...

Super analysis. Spot on. Best player in focus article so far.

wild said...

in the china open final lets not forget how brilliantly Trump played.

Selby did not go negative in that final he made a conscious decision to attack and he played brilliantly just That Trump also played brilliantly and he crossed the line first.

Betty Logan said...

I don't think he'll win another ranker. When it comes down to it there are quite a few players that are better, and if you get through to a final or the semis you're going to come up against one. His shot selection is too conservative—and yes you can temper that—but you won't win if you stray too far from your natural game, and Selby also has a problem raising his game against players who are playing well.

TazMania said...

I have criticised mark in the past but he is a talented player that I think is far too conservative for the game today. The way he plays in the first two rounds if he keeps that up through out tournaments then he will win more. The China open final wasn't too bad but the German Masters final became a stop start Match. I think there was 5-6 Re-racks in the match!

Spot on with Higgins dave that is the difference between a 4 times world champion and Selby. Selby does need to take chances and play to win not play to prevent him losing.

But he has the time to change his game and good luck to him.

Anonymous said...

i think he will win at least 5 more rankers.

good luck selby. one of the good guys in the game!

David Caulfield said...

I think of Mark Selby the same way I think of Lee Westwood in golf. He doesn't exactly choke when it comes to the home stretch of tournaments but he doesn't exactly go out there with a winning attitude either - very much like you say.

A lot seem to think that he is one of the great players of this era. He isn't! And until he wins a few more ranking events he shouldn't be considered as one.

This is a big year for him.

Joe said...

I reckon he'll win a ranker this year. Although he's only got 1 ranking event victory, he has won the masters twice. Most centuries in a season last year was pretty impressive too, as well as finishing the season at the top of the 1 year ranking list. Can't help but think this will be his year.

Anonymous said...

exactly 2.20
and it's very disappointing he couldn't convert such form and all those records into title wins.

jamie brannon said...

All this chkoing talk is nonsense. This is a guy who has won two Masters tournaments by clinching a number of final frame deciders.

He has come up against players producing form that is a little better on the day.

Just nosed in on your debate with Pro Snooker Blog about the format for UK. I hope this talk was all hypothetical, as it would be ashame to habe best of eleven's to the quarter-finals. I like best of 25 frames too but would keep the Crucible semis and final as they are.

However, the semis of UK and final would be good as best of 25. Logistically can't see it happening without alteration to the earlier rounds.

Betty Logan said...

Won't happen Jamie. Barry himself promised to 'ring fence' the big three. Anyway, scrapping the World Open and shortening the UK defies all logic if the BBC justed wanted a shorter tournament.

Anonymous said...

selby does not have the game nor the talent to win anything significant

wild said...

Mark Selby is no choker i cant believe thats even a issue.

Sparky said...

Actually, Mark Selby is the new provisional world no1, at least according to ProSnooker Blog:

And this is without winning a single major tournament in the last 2 years, whereas UK and World Champion John Higgins is down to 3rd.

This is the absurdity of the snooker rankings: If you miss a couple of tournaments, you lose LOTS and lots of points.

Matt said...

John missed more than a couple in fairness, two majors plus 10 PTCs, that's a potential 34,000 points.

Regarding my list, it's not definite yet as World Snooker are yet to confirm which points will be coming off. I've made an assumption that it will be Shanghai and the Grand Prix from 2009 but will amend if necessary.

On Selby he seems to be a player who really divides opinion, more so than most which I find a bit odd.

Anonymous said...

This is the absurdity of the snooker rankings: If you miss a couple of tournaments, you lose LOTS and lots of points.

if you don't play you don't get points its that simple.

in tennis if you injured you drop down.

Sonny said...

@ Matt - it's probably the same 2 or 3 people

Sparky said...

@Anon 11:35: No, in fact, you can miss out most of the tournaments during the tennis season and still be no1 in the world. Winning is everything, if you win, say, the four grand slams plus a couple of more tornaments, and don't play for the rest of the year, you will still be no1 in the world.

In the snooker rankings, it's not so much about winning, it's just about avoiding losing in the first round, or, heaven forbid, miss a tournament! And THIS is just what Selby does so well, he's mr concistency! Which gets him to the no1 spot.

The reason for this ranking system is of course that the governing body wants all top players to play all tournaments, it will be to costly to miss a couple of them - look at ROS. And that's fine with me - I want to see all the top players too! But it's still a little absurd that UK-Welsh-World champion Higgins will be down to no3, because he missed some smaller tournaments.

@Matt - First: GREAT blog! And second - I LOVE Mark Selby and hope so muck that he'll win some more rankers - especially the big one!

kildare cueman said...

Selby definitely divides opinion. On the plus side,his all round game is solid, he's a good potter/breakbuilder and an excellent tactician. He features regularly in the latter stages of TV tourneys and has an affable personality.

These factors ensure a decent fan base.

On the negative side, his style, while effective, is not as pretty as some other top players, and he is often guilty of slow play and having a stroll around the table before playing the obvious shot.

His well documented tendency to retreat into his ultra defensive mode, and his not so funny quips(which tend to surface when his opponent is under pressure), and his occasional bouts of triumphalism can be a source of annoyance for many people.

I feel these traits have a tendency to divide opinion, and snooker fans tend to love or hate him, unlike someone like, say, Ali Carter, who's inoffensive and gets on with the job. If Ali wins, your pleased for him. If he loses, no big deal.

This time last year I thought Selby was destined for big things. I felt he had the game, and the temperament to dominate for a couple of seasons.

Im not so sure now. Two Masters, a ranker and a World final are not to be sniffed at, but in a similar vein to Steven Maguire, he may have underachieved, and as time goes on, the expectation and pressures that a high ranking and past wins bring, he may have missed the boat a bit.

Certainly this season I feel, he must win at least a ranking tournament, or he may just become another one of snooker's supporting cast, rather than one of its regular winners.

Anonymous said...


John Higgins missed most of the tournaments of the season and he is still no 2. don't forget Williams actually played very well reaching finals, winning tournaments and World Semi final.

not as if he did nothing all season.

kildare cueman said...

Perhaps the rankings reward consistency rather than tournament wins a bit, but this may be necessary to incentivise players to compete in as many tournaments as possible.

If the rankings were altered to make each win worth more, i.e your points double each round, winners would be better displayed on the list, but it might become top heavy, a bit like the PTC list where the 12 winners tend to be in the top 14 or 15 in the rankings.

Regular quarter finalists or last 16s hardly feature.

Perhaps a compromise of both systems might give a more accurate reading. That is, increase the points of each round by 50 percent. Winners would then be better represented.

Sparky said...

Totally agree, Kildare. I proposed that for the PTC's, but this season PTC ranking system will be the same as last.