Mark Selby is on the pathway to becoming the most accomplished snooker player of all-time as he prepares to defend his World Championship crown in his bid to win the title for a fifth time. Only Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, Ray Reardon and Ronnie O’Sullivan have won the championship more times than the Jester from Leicester.
At the age of 38, Selby is at the peak of his powers and his relentless drive has kept him ahead of the competition. He is backed at 9/2 in the Betfair snooker betting odds to win successive titles for the second time in his career. Selby has an outstanding record at most venues, but seemingly raises the standard of his performances at the Crucible.
Not Always Classic Performances From Selby
In his 17 appearances in the World Championship, he has reached the final five times along with the semi-finals on a further two occasions. Selby has been hit and miss at the World Championship of late. The Englishman has either won the event or crashed out in the early stages of the competition.
Out of the last 10 tournaments, he has been knocked out in the first or second round on five occasions, parsed between his four title wins and an appearance in the semi-finals. Selby is either completely locked in on his goal of capturing the crown or fades away without a fight. He has a similar mantra to that of great champions of the past such as Hendry and Davis; when it comes to success, it is all or nothing.
Selby’s form ahead of the tournament last season was telling. The right-hander was operating at the peak of his powers, winning the Scottish and Welsh Opens along with reaching the final of the Snooker Shoot-Out. He was flawless in the early rounds of the 2021 World Championship, brushing aside talented players Mark Allen, Mark Williams and Stuart Bingham before edging out Shaun Murphy in the final with a clinical display.
Not a Great Start but Possibilities Remain
The 38-year-old has not enjoyed a great start to the new campaign, crashing out in the early rounds of the British, Northern Ireland and English Opens. He has made slow starts in the past, but has found his form over the course of the season to win the World Championship as highlighted by his surge in the 2016/17 term, where he also triumphed in the UK Championship.
Judd Trump has also emerged slowly out of the gates, therefore, there should no need to panic from the Selby camp. Ronnie O’Sullivan has too been off the boil, raising eyebrows about the form of the world’s best three players. Fortunately for Selby along with Trump and O’Sullivan, there are not many outstanding candidates that can challenge their dominance of the major events.
Neil Robertson has been inconsistent despite his win at the English Open. Experienced veterans John Higgins and Williams have been far from their best, although both are threats when on song at the Crucible Theatre. The biggest threat could emerge from Kyren Wilson, who has been close on three of his last four appearances at the World Championship without making the breakthrough. Selby cannot afford to rest on his laurels as he could be heading for a premature exit rather than one of his trademark runs if he is not at his best.