What a magnificently memorable 2014 World Championship Final. From 3-8 and 5-10 behind, Mark Selby displayed impenetrable character to come back to beat defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan 18-14 to complete Snooker’s Triple Crown.
Selby showed extraordinary character and because of that, as Steve Davis suggested, anyone who thinks that Mark Selby is boring does not truly appreciate snooker (or understand what character is, for that matter).
Even though in the first session of the final it was obvious that Selby was exhausted from his efforts in the semi-final marathon against Robertson, he had a steely determination in his eyes on the Monday as he staged a remarkable comeback from 5-10 down overnight to lead 12-11 going into the evening session. Ronnie was, by then, well and truly agitated.
The so-called ‘Jester from Leicester’ firmly put Ronnie in his place by, in the Rocket’s own words, ‘out-battling’ him. In the final, once Ronnie was drawn into the true tactical game of snooker, he was too often second-best to the advanced snooker mind of Mark Selby who essentially out-minded him.
This was, arguably, modern snooker’s finest hour as Selby applied tactical prowess to grind down snooker’s, generally regarded, finest ever cueist. As Judd Trump said of Neil Robertson’s one hundred centuries, it doesn’t win you tournaments. Well, neither does beating two opponents with a session each to spare as Ronnie did in the quarters and semis.
The new world champion now once again moves to number one in the world rankings. Snooker’s new ranking system, which has just come into being, ranks players according to season’s earned prize money and is already proving its logic.
While Ronnie has his merits, as his trophy cabinet verifies, he mentally imploded in his third consecutive world final. Not even his ‘mental coach’ Dr. Steve Peters could save him from disappointment. When in amongst the balls, he made misses on sitters that only the Crucible theatre would produce. He lost his nerve. No harm Ronnie, being ground down keeps you grounded and may bode well for your efforts next season… if you’ll be back on the baize, that is.
An emotional Selby reminisced that he had promised his late father, whom he lost when he was only 16, that he would try his best to win the world title. His wife Vicky, eternally supporting her man, joined Selby in Crucible celebration.
What more can be said…Mark Selby, thank you for grounding the Rocket. Thank you for proving what snooker really is. Thank you for a remarkable performance. Thank you for separating Ronnie rooters from real snooker enthusiasts.
In doing so, you have proven how and why snooker is the greatest and most fascinating sport on the planet. Oh yes, I made that statement and I am firmly sticking by it.
Snooker is more exciting than any Hollywood blockbuster (they’re far too predictable). Bring on next season… it promises to be more competitive and more exciting than ever before.
Check out the final frame action from the Crucible right here:
Tina McCarthy, Pundit Arena..
Featured Image By DerHexer, Wikimedia Commons (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.