The “Jester” relied on all of his battling qualities to secure victory in the first completed ranking event of the new campaign.
Mark Selby won the European Masters on Sunday after a closely-fought 9-8 triumph against Martin Gould at the Marshall Arena.
The 37 year-old raced into a 4-0 lead and looked like he was going to dominate the contest in Milton Keynes.
But surprise finalist Gould settled by clinching the fifth frame on the black before reeling off another four amid heavy scoring to move 5-4 in front.
From then on during the second session, there was never more than a frame between them in the scoreline.
With the next two frames shared, Gould once again boasted a one-frame advantage but the “Pinner Potter” knew it would be difficult to pull away from a competitor as fierce as Selby.
The latter’s break of 113 squared the final up at 6-6 and Selby edged ahead to move to within just two frames of glory.
Gould managed to keep his foot on the gas with high breaks, compiling runs of 107 and 96 in the final frames to set up the final-frame shootout – although could rue a missed opportunity in frame 15 when he had a chance to go one up with two to play.
In the decider, a timely contribution of 72 from Selby ensured that it was the Leicester man who would collect the £80,000 champion’s cheque.
It was bitter disappointment for Gould, who has now lost in three out of the four ranking event finals he has contested in his career.
The 2016 German Masters winner can at least take solace in the fact that his game has returned to near its best after several seasons of struggle.
European Masters Success for Selby, though, represents an incredible tenth time in succession that the Englishman has prevailed in a ranking event final.
An 18th ranking victory overall means he moves alongside Neil Robertson into equal-sixth position on the all-time list.
Selby is reducing the gap to the Australian in the official world rankings as well, with the three-time former world champion in fourth one place behind Robertson.
After the pain of losing a dramatic semi-final encounter in the World Championship to Ronnie O’Sullivan last month, Selby has bounced back in an immediate and emphatic fashion.
In the last year, Selby has rediscovered his winning formula and he has his sights set on challenging the world champion and also world number one Judd Trump at the top of the rankings pecking order.
Selby already leads the European Series order of merit following its first tournament, with the player boasting the most earnings after all six events receiving a £150,000 bonus later this term.
Most importantly, Selby is back in the winning enclosure and has his name etched onto yet more silverware.
Featured photo credit: WST