Mark Selby and Gary Wilson will face each other in the second round of the 2023 World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.
This season for Mark Selby
After a disappointing 2021/22 campaign in which he battled personal issues away from the baize, Mark Selby has bounced back strongly this term.
The Leicester man came within a frame of reclaiming the world number one position at the recent Tour Championship, losing a thrilling semi-final decider to Shaun Murphy.
But earlier tournament victories in the English Open and the WST Classic have helped consolidate his status as one of the game’s elite performers.
Selby will soon have a lot of ranking points coming off his tally, with the £500,000 cheque he collected for winning the 2021 World Championship set to be deducted.
The 39 year-old will have his eyes firmly set on claiming a fifth world title at the Crucible Theatre, and he enters the competition among the players in the most form.
This season for Gary Wilson
For the first time in his career, Gary Wilson is a top 16 member and a Crucible seed.
A memorable campaign for the Newcastle United supporter saw him given a hero’s reception at St. James’ Park following his maiden ranking success at the Scottish Open.
Wilson later reached the quarter-finals of the Players Championship and the last four in the WST Classic, where he was a frame away from qualifying for the prestigious Tour Championship through the one-year rankings list.
Still, the 37 year-old returns to Sheffield in arguably the form of his career, and he does have some good memories of the city.
Back in 2019 as a qualifier, Wilson produced an unexpected run to the World Championship semi-finals, where he was defeated by eventual champion Judd Trump.
What happened in the first round?
Despite always being in control and in front, Selby made hard work of his 10-8 victory over Matthew Selt in the first round.
He didn’t perform well during the second session overall but finished the job in strong fashion, with a tremendous century break ultimately reflecting his superior class.
It wasn’t too dissimilar in Wilson’s match with pal Elliot Slessor – the former squandering a 7-2 and 8-4 lead before also producing a ton to win 10-8 as well.
Mark Selby vs Gary Wilson head-to-head
Selby boasts a 9-2 head-to-head record against Wilson, with one of the latter’s two victories occurring in the Six Red World Championship.
Interestingly, though, Wilson’s other success was at this very stage of the 2019 World Snooker Championship when the Tyneside Terror dispatched Selby in the second round.
The English pair’s other notable clash was at the 2015 China Open, when Selby thrashed Wilson 10-2 in the final in Beijing.
Wilson is an even stronger competitor now compared to the one who beat Selby four years ago en route to the last four in Sheffield.
It would be a surprise to see him get rolled over, but even though he has good memories of facing the four-time world champion at the Crucible, he will enter this contest as the obvious underdog.
Selby didn’t produce champion’s material in the first round, but there’s always a danger of peaking too early in this tournament.
The Leicester man has proven in the past his ability to time his runs in big events to perfection, building up momentum and form as he approaches the business end.
Prediction: Mark Selby 13-9 Gary Wilson
Saturday, April 22nd – 7pm
Sunday, April 23rd – 2:30pm
Monday, April 24th – 7pm
Featured photo credit: WST