Premier League Snooker: Night One Review

Match One: Sublime Selby earns comeback win

And to think I doubted him, Mark Selby put in arguably the most impressive debut performance that the league has seen whilst in this format to beat Ding Junhui 4-2 and go top of the Premier League.

He didn’t get off to the best of starts however, in what was a scrappy opening for both players. Selby eventually took control of the frame before breaking down on the last red. Following a brief safety exchange, Ding capitalised on a poor safety to take the frame with a break of 30 and lead 1-0.

Selby again got in first at the start of frame two but landed on nothing when he attempted to split the reds. A few shots later and what at the time looked like a key moment took place. Ding managed to put Selby in a very tough snooker behind the green and it appeared to be an ideal time for Selby to use his first ‘time-out’ of the match. He chose not to however and his attempted escape fell way short of the intended red, allowing Ding to come in and take full advantage with a break of 100.

At this point I was wondering whether Selby was indeed struggling to adapt to the shot clock and whether Ding would move on to win comfortably, after all he looked to be cueing well. What followed from Selby however was an absolutely stunning response which erased any doubts about his ability to cope with the 25 second limit.

He quickly drew level with breaks of 86 and 80 before a run of 73 following a missed red from Ding and then a well deserved century in the final frame of the match secured him the points. In truth he could have made a century in each of those four frames but for some poor positional play once the frame was won, though I doubt he will be too worried about that with £5,000 and two points earned tonight.

Selby said:

“I had a few chances to make a century but I’m not complaining – I’m chuffed to bits winning 4-2 on my debut,” said Selby.

“I only played one bad safety in first frame, then he took the second and then I performed. I always try and enjoy it and put on a good performance.

“With the shot clock, I played a little bit quicker than last season so I’ll need to get a bit of exercise in.

“I’ve got to take it one game at a time and Stephen’s record speaks for itself but I’m certainly looking forward to it.”

Ding will be disappointed to have come away from the night with no points but it is early days and he will be hoping to get his campaign back on track when he meets John Higgins next week in Basingstoke. Selby meanwhile now has a week off before he plays seven times world champion Stephen Hendry in Derby.

Match Two: Points shared as Higgins denies the Rocket

In what was a high quality match from the start, the spoils were shared as defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and Scotland’s John Higgins drew 3-3.

In what was a highly enjoyable start to the match, O’Sullivan thought that he had taken the frame when following a break of 62 he left Higgins needing a snooker. Higgins however had other ideas as he got that snooker and cleared up to force a respot. Eventually it was O’Sullivan who blinked first and left an unmissable shot for Higgins to knock in and take the frame.

Following a break of 83 in the next to put Higgins 2-0 up, it was O’Sullivan’s turn to hit back with breaks of 72 and 85 to level the match. He then went into the lead when Higgins’ break ended at 38 when he missed a tricky long blue that he was forced into taking following a kick on his previous shot.

Lesser players might have given in at this point but Higgins is far too classy for that. He potted a superb long red at the start of the sixth frame and although faced with a number of tricky shots early on in the break, held firm and sealed a point with a run of 74.

Both seemed fairly happy with the result in their post match interview:

“That was a point gained for me as I was 3 -2 behind,” said Higgins. “You’ve got to raise your game against Ronnie as he never misses. You only get in off a bad safety and whenever you leave him a chance it’s game over.

“I’ve not played in the Premier League for a few years, and last year I realized I missed it. It’s a great tournament and everyone’s a great player so you just do your best,” he added.

O’Sullivan said: “It’s a point and at the end of the day I’m not disappointed so we both got out of jail.

As previously mentioned, Higgins now faces Ding Junhui in the next event while O’Sullivan will be up against league debutant Joe Perry.

September 11 – Grimsby Auditorium

£5,000 Mark Selby 4-2 Ding Junhui £3,000
51(43)-64(30), 15-105(100), 86(86)-0, 80(80)-0, 73(73)-0, 104(104)-0
£3,000 Ronnie O’Sullivan 3-3 John Higgins £3,000
63(62)-70(respot black), 1-91(83), 98(72)-0, 85(85)-0, 67(46)-46(38), 0-74(74)

For a list of centuries, money earned and the league table, please click here.