Following an injury-hit season in 2014-2015 and some disappointing results, it is difficult to predict where Mark Selby’s next triumph in a snooker ranking tournament will be.
The Jester from Leicester has been snooker’s world number one since 2012 after a number of title wins and successful tournaments. In those years, his ranking titles have included the Shanghai Masters, the UK Championship, the German Masters, the China Open and the World Championship.
Despite winning the German Masters and the China Open last season, his overall season may have been considered somewhat disappointing. He only made the last 128 in the International Championship after losing to Oliver Lines and the last 64 in the UK Championship following defeat to Ireland’s David Morris.
Selby’s most sub-standard performances came in the latter stages of the season in the events he usually has a lot of success in. He took an early exit in the World Championship losing to debutant Anthony McGill of Scotland, failing to defend his first World Championship title.
The Masters, a non-ranking tournament that Selby usually does so well in, also produced another disappointing outcome for the Jester. He was closely beaten by Shaun Murphy in the first round, and Murphy actually went on to win the tournament. Selby has won the Masters three times as well as losing in two finals, so another first round exit from the world number one was a surprising result.
So what is expected of Mark Selby in the upcoming snooker season? He will surely want to correct the performances in the tournaments where he was below par last year by winning some more major titles.
He may be an unexpected favourite in the events he hasn’t won before, starting with the Australian Open. This tournament has witnessed a number of underdogs go on to win in recent years such as Barry Hawkins, Stuart Bingham and Marco Fu, so Selby may well fancy his chances this year.
Selby will also be aiming to defend his title of the German Masters and the China Open, even though defending his titles have proven to be a difficult task for the Jester in his professional career. Some of his titles have been followed by first and second round exits in the next year, but the closest he has come to defending a title is twice in the Masters, reaching the final on two separate occasions after winning it. After attaining the UK Championship title he made the next year’s final, narrowly losing to Australia’s Neil Robertson.
Two of the tournaments that Selby is likely to perform well in this year are the World Championships and the Masters. Both tournaments were not Selby’s greatest achievements last year, and he can approach them with the attitude that he can’t do much worse, which could give him a huge psychological boost. Although the Masters isn’t a ranking tournament, it is a highly prestigious event and something that Selby would love to win for the fourth time.
The tournament that the Jester has a high possibility of winning this year is the Welsh Open. It is a tournament that Selby hasn’t won since 2008 and the last three years have only seen him make the first round, the quarter-final and the fourth round so it is an event where Selby is due to put in a good performance.
After playing some better snooker and seemingly getting over his neck injury, Selby can look towards another season in the hope of winning a number of titles to keep him in that world number one spot.