Features and Interviews

Player of the Year

There have been a few humorous polls on social media over the last couple of weeks asking a certain interesting question.

mark-selby-family-uk-ws

A lot to cheer about. Photo credit: World Snooker

As 2016 draws to a close, who is the player of the year?

It’s an easy conundrum for many fans and critics alike to solve, albeit a select number still manage to come with arguments against the obvious.

Of course, the only real contender in this conversation is the world number one, Mark Selby.

The ‘Jester’ has been laughing himself all the way to the bank in a lucrative 12 months which has seen the 33 year-old add four ranking titles to his tally and come to within a whisker of breaking the million pound mark in the rolling two-year prize money standings.

Selby began the year experiencing a slight dip in form having not tasted glory since the 2015 China Open the previous April.

However, in February he returned to the winner’s enclosure by capturing the Gdynia Open in Poland – setting him up for the most prolific period in his career.

An epic 18-14 victory over Ding Junhui in the final of the World Championship provided Selby with a second Crucible crown in a memorable night for his hometown Leicester, its football team having wrapped up an incredible Premier League triumph within minutes of its supporter’s success in Sheffield.

In the first half of this campaign, Selby has subsequently grown in confidence and stature as a multiple world champion.

Gone for good are the question marks surrounding his ability to win finals, highlighted by further triumphs in the Paul Hunter Classic and the lucrative International Championship – where he destroyed Ding 10-1 having lost to the Chinese in the Shanghai Masters final the month before as a budding rivalry begins to blossom.

Selby’s consistency, couple with an ability to win ugly, has always been highlighted but 2016 was a year in which he proved he could dominate with various aspects of his game.

Rounding off the period with a marvellous victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan in the UK Championship final was the icing on a rather tasty Christmas cake.

By lifting the UK trophy aloft for a second time, Selby joined O’Sullivan, Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, John Higgins and Mark Williams as the only multiple Triple Crown champions.

Selby has already three Masters titles to his name, and will head to the Alexandra Palace next month as the 9/2 second favourite behind the ‘Rocket’ in the bet365 snooker betting odds.

The prestigious tournament in London, where only the top 16 players are invited to take part, won’t count towards the world rankings but, with earnings of £994,942, it appears only a matter of time before he eclipses the cool million at the top of the standings.

John Higgins is the only player who offered a late challenge in the latter months of 2016.

The Scot enjoyed a bumper November by winning more than £300,000 following victories in the China Championship and Champion of Champions invitationals.

Higgins followed that up with an eighth career 147 break in Belfast in the Home Nations series before narrowly missing out on success on his own turf when he was defeated at the last hurdle of the Scottish Open by Marco Fu.

In reality, though, nobody comes close to Selby’s achievements over the 52-week period and he is, without doubt, SnookerHQ’s player of the year.

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