Mark Selby won his first title of the season by beating Mark Allen 10-7 in the final of the OPPO International Championship in Daqing, China.
World number one Selby won the prestigious title for the second consecutive year having beaten Ding Junhui 10-1 in the 2016 final.
This time the Leicester cueman was pushed much harder – especially when Allen came from 8-3 down to 9-7 – but Selby eventually got over the winning line to secure the £150,000 top prize. It’s the 13th ranking title of his career, bringing him level with Ding, joint-sixth on the all-time list.
Selby made a slow start to the current season, suffering a toe injury in June which caused him to miss the early stages of the campaign, and then failing to go beyond the quarter-finals of the next five ranking events.
But – as he does so often – he has risen to the occasion in one of the biggest tournaments on the calendar this week and will go home with the trophy. It’s Selby’s sixth ranking title in the last 16 months, a golden spell which has also seen him win his third World Championship and second UK Championship titles.
He is now nearly £800,000 ahead of Ding at the top of the world rankings, while Allen’s £75,000 runner-up prize sees him jump from 11th to sixth.
Selby won the opening frame with a break of 67 then Allen levelled with a 110. Runs of 50 and 61 helped put Selby 3-1 up, before Allen pulled one back with a 98. Selby then took control by winning three frames in a row with top breaks of 55, 60 and 61. Allen won the last frame of the opening session with a superb 137 to keep himself in touch at 6-3.
The early exchanges of the evening session went Selby’s way as he won two frames without his opponent scoring a point, making it 8-3. Frame 12 could have gone either way but Allen took it with a yellow-to-pink clearance, and he went on to make 78 in the next to close to 8-5 at the interval.
Selby’s run of 90 put him four up with five to play and he had chances to seal victory in frame 15, but couldn’t take one and his opponent won it on the colours. Allen got the better of a scrappy 16th as well to close to 9-7. But Selby took control of frame 17 with a run of 49 and later got back in to add 19 points to clinch the title.
The result means that Neil Robertson earns the 16th and final spot in the 188BET Champion of Champions which starts on Monday.