Selby strips O’Sullivan of his crown

Mark Selby won yet another dramatic final frame decider to regain the Masters Crown 10-9 from reigning champion O’Sullivan. Clearly the venue and the atmosphere suits Selby well and helps him to produce his best when he is right up against it. This was his seventh final frame decider at Wembley and he’s won every single one of them. That’s a better record than Germany’s national football team in penalty shoot-outs. (Yes, they actually lost one once, in 1976. Really.)

The final session of this event was an absolute treat for its audience, even if it will have cost a few of us some valuable Zs before the working week ahead. Selby came out all guns blazing and went for everything that was available and even a few that didn’t seem to be. He seemed to get them all. But he couldn’t close the gap completely as his safety play appeared to suffer instead. Two very ordinary shots allowed O’Sullivan into what should have been an unassailable lead at 9-6.

There are very few players in the world who you would give much chance of coming back from that position against the best player in the world, but Selby has done it before – in the Welsh Open final 2008, winning the last four to claim a 9-8 victory. Now at Wembley he really is becoming the Master.

It slowly began to feel like Ronnie too believed that such a turnaround was on the cards again, as he failed to capitalize on the few scraps of chances he was given to claim his tenth frame. In fairness to Ronnie (more than he affords himself), he had chances to win it and missed both a yellow off the spot and a tricky left-handed green with lots of check side before his defeat was confirmed, but it was noticeable in his post-match interviews that he just isn’t feeling on top of his game, and that he felt the inevitability of it. I wonder if snooker is unique amongst games for its ability to make the very best player the world has ever seen feel like that.

As for Selby, there’s a grit and determination behind the humour, and surely one day there’ll be a World Championship to add to his prize list, even if Ronnie’s not so sure…

A brilliant final for a brilliant tournament, and now a longish wait for the season’s show piece. Time to hit the baize…

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