The semi-final of the World Championship sets up a mouth-watering clash between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Selby.
It’s not just a highly exciting contest because two of snooker’s top potters are going head-to-head but also because of the clash of styles.
Rocket Can Break Selby Resistance
O’Sullivan’s game is based almost solely around break-building and there’s not a player on tour who can control the cueball as well as the Rocket.
Of course, the Chigwell cueman has a solid safety game, but even that is usually about opening the balls to allow for heavy scoring should an opportunity present itself.
O’Sullivan’s long game is key in the sense that it gives the Rocket the scoring opportunities he craves and when it is on-song it’s extremely difficult to compete with the five-time World Champion.
Selby is a capable break-builder, you don’t win three Crucible crowns and the tournaments he has done without that being that case, but he’s also a fierce competitor. All of snooker’s top players can play good safety but the Jester has the ability to play four, five, six or more excellent tactical shots on the bounce and that relentless pressure often causes his opponents to make mistakes.
O’Sullivan’s break-building in this year’s event has been superb. The Rocket made two centuries in a 10-1 first-round win over Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and eight of the ten frames the Chigwell cueman claimed in that contest were won in one visit.
The Rocket backed that up with 11 breaks of more than 50 in a 13-10 win over Ding Junhui in round two. Mark Williams offered stiff resistance in the quarter-finals but O’Sullivan rattled in five centuries to claim a 13-10 victory.
Selby Struggles to Continue
Those are three classy cuemen and those wins read better than Selby’s victories over Jordan Brown, Noppon Saengkham and Neil Robertson. The Jester looked all over the place against Brown in the opening round and the Leicester potter was lucky to avoid defeat when taking on Saengkham.
There’s no doubt that Selby raised his game against Robertson but the Aussie rather let himself get dragged into a game that didn’t suit him and it’s unlikely that O’Sullivan will follow suit.
The Rocket is still snooker’s number one star and he can move a step closer to a sixth Crucible crown. O’Sullivan has of course been installed as a strong favourite but backing him to win with a little bit to spare could be the way to go, with a -2.5 frame handicap tempting at
McGill Ready to Play the Long Game
Anthony McGill has battled his way to the semi-final and he doesn’t look ready to surrender without a fight.
The Scot came through a 10-9 thriller against Jack Lisowski in the opening round and there was no less drama in McGill’s 13-12 win over Jamie Clark in round two.
The Glasgow cueman survived a fightback from Kurt Maflin to reach the last four and he won’t give Kyren Wilson anything for free.
McGill has yet to make a single century in this year’s event but tough and consistent snooker has seen him reach the semi-finals.
Wilson should be fresh after playing just two games and he will no doubt be full of confidence after his 13-9 win over defending champion Judd Trump.
However, the prices may be overplaying that victory a little and this match could go for longer than expected.
*All odds correct at time of writing