Mark Selby is the 2014 dafabet World Champion after an extraordinary comeback saw him beat Ronnie O'Sullivan 18-14 to claim his first world title.
This had seemed a most unlikely outcome on Sunday evening as at different stages Ronnie lead 8-3 & 10-5,but as he eluded to in his press conference an missed black at 10-5 allowed Selby a chance to win that frame and he then took the next,to end a day where he had not played well at all,just three behind at 10-7.
Selby of course has plenty of previous when it comes to mounting comebacks and in an absorbing start to the third session he completely dictated the play with some proper matchplay snooker to freeze Ronnie out and continue his fightback winning the opening four frames to amazingly lead for the first time at 11-10. Ronnie took the next to level at 11-11 and in a 50 minute 23rd frame looked have done the hard work,only to miss the most routine of pinks to the centre and Selby pounced to go 12-11.
Such was the length of time these frames were taking,the players were called ashore at this stage to give them some time to prepare for last nights final session. On resumption,a superb long red from Ronnie followed by a quickfire century saw him level again at 12-12,but Selby was starting to find his best from of the match now and he won the next three to go 15-12 at the interval
Your don't win as much in the game as Ronnie has if you don't have battling qualities and O'Sullivan showed these qualities to close within one at 15-14.We looked set now for a grandstand finish,but form here Selby produced his best snooker of the match,taking the next two with breaks of 127 & 87 to move to the brink at 17-14. Ronnie had his chance to win the next,but he couldn't get it done and Selby pounced to clear and claim a famous 18-14 victory.
This did of course not only secure a first World title for Selby,but it also completed a career triple crown of the sports major prizes and moved him back to no.1 in the rankings.Not a bad days at all then!
For Ronnie I think its probably fair to comment,that for all the fact that he coasted through the quarter and semi finals,he never really hit the heights that he had in the last two years here.This and the fact he let a five frame lead slip away will be big disappointment to him,but in his press conference he didn't give any reason to think he wont be back next year to try and claim a sixth title.
So then today as the dust settles on the the 2014 world championship what sort of 17 days did we have? Well firstly I don't think this,for all the drama of the first round, will be remembered as a vintage year standardwise and this may actually be a trend that was masked in the last two years by the success's of Ronnie.
Secondly another worrying trend is the ever rising average age of the players competing in the latter stages of events.These are of course solid professionals all,but when you have a situation where there are more players over 40 in the last 8 than players in their 20's it possibly points to the inconvenient truth that there is real a lack of great players coming through.This is something I will blog in more detail about in coming weeks
Thirdly it was a surprise to see Ding Junhui once again fail so dramatically here after a season where he had looked to have slayed many of his demons,but there were signs that Judd Trump is beginning to find some form again so maybe he can hit the heights he has previously again next season.
Fourthly, I want to congratulate the BBC on their coverage. Yes I know it was frustrating to see them leave a final frame decider for a repeat of Eggheads and in many ways thats unforgivable,but their early morning broadcasts were a welcome addition,as was their "Table Talk" section where they actually discussed in detail the real issues affecting the sport. For all the complaints I don't see any other broadcaster who could do it better.
Finaly though lets once again salute our champion.I will hold my hands up and admit I have never looked at Mark Selby as a potential world champion and I think that this was because,for all that I admire him as a professional,I could never really make up my mind if he was a decent player who won more than he should because of his dogged style or a great player who possessed a wonderful B game that saw through even when not at his best. I think I got my answer last night.Well done Mark Selby World Champion 2014