The years 2014-2017 were the best of Mark Selby’s career. But were they the best of his career so far? – Well that’s the question. Have we seen the best of the former World No. 1 (now ranked 6) or will his recent low spell in the past couple of seasons stay in the past?
Selby has only won one ranking event this past season and two the season before that. None of these wins were Triple Crown. These performances also saw Selby lose his No. 1 rank which he held for 7 consecutive years before that. If we compare that to his 2016/17 season (arguably his best), he won 4 ranking events, including the Worlds and UK Championship.
His ranking position wouldn’t have suffered so much if he performed better on average in each tournament he played in. The furthest Selby got in a tournament besides the China Championship was the semi-finals of the NI Open in the classic against O’Sullivan. Besides that, he suffered numerous first and second round exits. This is similar in the 2017/18 season as well. So, what happened?
One thing I noticed was that Selby’s play has shifted to more of an aggressive approach in the recent past, particularly this past season. He has been taking on a lot more long shots that he normally wouldn’t a few years prior. This was probably due to his confidence of winning 3 world titles in 4 years. You could even observe a little of this confidence when he won WSC 2017 which he was playing at his best.
Also, the level of competition has been getting far stronger over the past couple of years which can make it difficult to replicate a good season. This would have contributed to many of Selby’s first and second round exits.
Normally, if Selby has had a poor season he would make up for it in the WSC – which is exactly what happened in 2015/16 when the WSC was the only ranking event he won. And he didn’t even play that well to win that year. The past two years had seen first and second round exits at WSC. In the past two years, I still would have had Selby as a favourite to win WSC, but now, I’m not too sure.
I, for one, hope that Selby can find this confidence of 2014-17 and carry it forward to the upcoming seasons. As players such as Trump, Higgins and Robertson become crowd favourites to win the World Championship, it would be nice for Selby to come in to show that he isn’t to be forgotten about