Masters 2011: King Shocks Selby

Well, well, what about that then? He might have won 11 of his previous 12 matches in the event but Mark Selby has fallen at the first hurdle in 2011 as Mark King brought his title defence to an abrupt end with a fine 6-4 victory. More to follow…

Coming into the match justifiably full of confidence, it looked as though it might be a case of business as usual at Wembley for Mark Selby early on as he opened with a break of 70 to take the opening frame of the match this afternoon. Selby then doubled his lead in frame two by completing an excellent clearance, shots on the yellow and pink proving to be particularly memorable.

Interestingly however this proved to be the turning point in the match as Mark King explained in his post-match interview with the BBC. I did not see it myself, but apparently Selby gestured in some way having potted the final black to take the frame, something which ‘gave King the hump’ and prompted a fabulous response from the former Welsh Open finalist.

He began in frame three with a clearance of 139, just his fourth century of the season so far but a timely one nevertheless as he embarked on what would be a four-frame winning streak. The match was by no means one-sided at this stage but having seen Selby gain an early lead in a number of frames, he kept his composure well, coming back to steal them on the colours.

At 4-2 Selby had to make something happen and though he was showing signs of feeling the pressure, he did just that by taking the next two frames to level. It was not to be another victory however as King continued to look good and despite a re-rack in the final frame, did enough to get himself over the line and record a second major upset against Mark Selby having previously knocked the Jester from Leicester out of the World Championship back in 2008.

On paper it would be easy to look at the match and assume that Mark Selby was well below his best but although he did miss a few balls when in, this was an excellent performance indeed from Mark King and no fluke result. King has received a large amount of criticism during the past couple of seasons, unfairly so in my opinion, and it is good to see him showing what he can do on the big stage once again.

For Mark Selby though this result will hurt, particularly given his exceptional record at the venue to date. Whether or not he took King for granted or it was simply a bad day at the office only he will know but he will be hoping for better at the German Masters next month.

On a more general point of view, the arena looks markedly different to recent years at the Masters as they seem to have finally given up trying to make it look like the old Conference Centre with the ’round’ arena. Instead the set appears to be that used at the World Open and UK Championship tournaments, whilst the mid-match music played between frames in Glasgow is also back.