Selby First Champion of Champions Semi-Finalist

The inaugural Champion of Champions event got under way yesterday at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.

16 of the best players in the world have been invited to compete against one another for a top prize of 100,000 pounds on Sunday.

While the Masters traditionally invites the top 16 in the world rankings, the new Champion of Champions welcomes all the tournament winners from the past year.

The rules for qualification were clearly stipulated when the tournament was announced – all major event winners plus remaining players topped up by the world rankings.

This, in turn, led to the inclusion of Shaun Murphy and Mark Davis.

The latter had won the Six-Red World Championship, which was not included as a qualifying event, so his presence through the rankings was not overly scathed.

However, many alluded to the fact that Englishman Murphy has not won a tournament since 2011 and therefore should not be involved in a tournament titled the Champion of Champions is he is not a champion himself.

Others could have been invited, like the World Seniors winner or players from the PTC series, but let’s face it, Murphy is a world and UK winner so he’s not exactly a dud!

At any rate, Murphy’s involvement ended on day one as he went down 4-2 to recent Antwerp Open victor Mark Selby in the championship’s opening clash.

This tournament has been broken up into four “groups” of four, with two semi-finals and a final producing one player from each group who will advance to Saturday’s last four.

In the other last 16 bout, Stephen Maguire came from 3-2 down to defeat John Higgins in the battle of the Scots in a decider.

Maguire scored the highest break of the day with a magnificent 125 against his countryman but it was his opponent in the group final who was reeling off the big breaks on Tuesday evening.

Selby fired in three tons – 117, 113 and 103 – and took four frames in succession to come from behind to see off Maguire’s challenge in a 6-3 triumph.

It continues Selby’s good run of form of late and it bodes well for the former world no.1 as he prepares for the defence of both his UK and Masters titles in the coming months.

Everything about the event feels great after the opening day’s action.

The format is fresh, the matches are the right length and the fact that it consists of only the elite adds a significant sense of prestige.

Furthermore, a nice touch was to change the dress code from bow ties to regular ties – a smart look that distinguishes the event in a small but relevant way from all the others.

Also, the new arena looks fantastic with atmospheric lighting and an ITV studio that overlooks the crowd and snooker table, of which there is only one that takes centre stage.

Finally, it is great to see ITV, a terrestrial channel, back broadcasting the sport once more and they have acquired a tremendous team in Clive Everton, Neal Foulds and Alan McManus.

All in all, a great start to this new competition then and the prospect of a truly exciting week ahead with more of the top stars to come.

Today’s group sees Judd Trump, Marco Fu, Stuart Bingham and Ricky Walden battle for the second semi-final spot.

The full draw can be viewed by clicking here

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