Mark Selby won his second ranking title of the season, and 22nd of his career, by beating Pang Junxu 6-2 in the final of the inaugural WST Classic in his home city of Leicester.
Selby saved his best snooker of the week for the final, making three centuries as he outfoxed China’s Pang, who was playing in a ranking final for the first time. The trophy and top prize of £80,000 are a welcome boost for Selby, whose last title came at the English Open in December.
The 39-year-old came into the tournament unsure of his place at next week’s Duelbits Tour Championship as he sat precariously in eighth place on the one-year ranking list but his tremendous run at the Morningside Arena has boosted him to third. He now heads to Hull for the final event in the Duelbits Series and will go to the Crucible next month full of confidence as he seeks a fifth world title.
Selby remains in eighth place on the all-time list of ranking event winners, but is now just one behind both Judd Trump and Neil Robertson, neither of whom have added to their tally this season. So strong is Selby’s killer instinct when he glimpses silverware that he has now won 19 of his last 21 ranking finals. He remains second in the official world rankings but narrows the gap significantly on world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Pang, age 23, turned pro in 2020 and was named Rookie of the Year in his first season. Within the past two months he has made significant breakthroughs, reaching his first ranking quarter-final at the German Masters, his first semi at the Welsh Open and now his first final. The talented cueman earns £35,000, jumps 11 places up the rankings to 35th and it surely won’t be long before he is holding a trophy.
In the semi-finals, Pang edged out Gary Wilson 5-4 in what was a crucial match for Wilson as victory would have earned him a Duelbits Tour Championship berth as well as a top 16 seeding at the Crucible. Selby, meanwhile, saw off Ali Carter 5-0 with a top break of 138.
The Englishman made a superb start to the final with breaks of 104 and 138 to go 2-0 up. Pang pulled one back with a run of 75 before Selby got the better of the fourth frame then made a 120 for 4-1. A scrappy sixth went Pang’s way, but in the seventh Selby converted a long pot on the third-last red when he led by 25 points and added the balls he needed for 5-2. And he needed only one chance to close out the result, finishing with a break of 79.
“It was nice to play well in front of my home fans,” said Selby. “Every day is different but hopefully I can carry this form into the World Championship.”
Article by WST.