Mark Selby clinched his second ranking title of the season and his 22nd overall, defeating Pang Junxu 6-2 in the final of the WST Classic held in Leicester, his home city. The victory comes as a welcome relief for Selby, who hadn’t won a title since his triumph at the English Open in December.
In the final, Selby played his best snooker of the tournament, scoring three centuries and outsmarting his Chinese opponent, who was making his first appearance in a ranking final. The victory also marked the first time that Selby has won a ranking title in his hometown of Leicester.
The top prize of £80,000 and the trophy won at the Morningside Arena have boosted Selby’s confidence as he heads to Hull for the final event in the Duelbits Series, and then onto the Crucible, where he will seek his fifth world title.
Selby was uncertain about his place in next week’s Duelbits Tour Championship, as he sat precariously in eighth place on the one-year ranking list, but his stellar performance in Leicester has propelled him to third. The victory has also narrowed the gap between Selby and Ronnie O’Sullivan, who is the current world number one.
Pang, a 23-year-old newcomer to the professional snooker scene, has had an impressive past two months, reaching his first ranking quarter-final at the German Masters, his first semi-final at the Welsh Open, and now his first final. Although he lost to Selby in the final, Pang’s talent and potential were on full display, and he earned £35,000 and a jump to 35th place in the rankings.
In the semi-finals, Pang narrowly defeated Gary Wilson 5-4, which was a crucial match for Wilson as a victory would have earned him a Duelbits Tour Championship berth as well as a top 16 seeding at the Crucible. Selby, on the other hand, dominated Ali Carter 5-0 with a top break of 138.
Selby’s victory in the WST Classic final marked his 19th win in his last 21 ranking finals, demonstrating his killer instinct and his ability to seize victory when he sees a chance at silverware. He now sits just one win behind both Judd Trump and Neil Robertson on the all-time list of ranking event winners, neither of whom have added to their tally this season.
In summary, Selby’s victory in the WST Classic final has set him on a strong trajectory for the upcoming Duelbits Tour Championship and the World Championship. Pang’s impressive showing in the tournament has also signaled that he is a player to watch in the future.