For some time it appeared as if Marco Fu may gatecrash the get together, however in the long run the Betway UK Championship has bought one of many finals that many neutrals would have wished within the form of Ronnie O’Sullivan in opposition to Mark Selby.
Simply wanting on the two names whets the urge for food for a long-distance contest over one of the best of 19 frames for the £170,000 first prize at York’s Barbican Centre at the moment – and serves as a reminder of a few of their earlier high-profile clashes.
Though O’Sullivan, going for a record-equalling sixth UK title to match Steve Davis, claimed that he was “the underdog” on Saturday night time, the bookmakers disagree – however not by a lot. The sheer weight of cash O’Sullivan at all times attracts might be the explanation for him being a marginal favorite.
However Selby, who has the sting on his rival in general finals and likewise the key ones, has the possibility to stamp some extra authority each on O’Sullivan and the game basically after being world No1 for 94 weeks in a row.
John Higgins might have been successful the large invitational match cash within the final month, however the 33-year-old Selby has now been prime of the rankings for almost two years and already appears prone to keep there till the World Championship. Victory would solely make that extra possible.
O’Sullivan defends an astonishing 100 per cent document in UK finals having gained 5 from 5, the primary coming in 1993 as a 17-year-old. Nevertheless it was Selby who ended the same world last document for the Rocket on the Crucible two years in the past. And there have additionally been huge wins for the Leicester Jester in a Masters last, and a Welsh Open showpiece.
There has unquestionably been needle between the pair prior to now, created partly by a conflict of types, and O’Sullivan commenting on this in lower than flattering phrases about Selby’s play – notably in his autobiography when he branded his rival ‘The Torturer’.
However very similar to within the case of the same stand-off with Stephen Hendry a few years in the past, O’Sullivan insists that the connection has thawed following quite a few joint exhibitions and excursions overseas, when it’s arduous for 2 gamers to not spend a deal of time collectively.
O’Sullivan dropped as many frames in opposition to Fu as he had within the earlier 5 matches, and was in reality fortunate to win by way of, the Hong Kong participant blowing an excellent likelihood to wrap up victory at 6-4 earlier than lacking an important inexperienced and seeing the Rocket mop up with 130 within the decider.
However each O’Sullivan and Selby are chasing historical past at the moment. Whereas O’Sullivan tries to equal certainly one of boyhood hero Steve Davis’s marks and likewise declare a twenty ninth rating title that may edge him forward of the Nugget and John Higgins, Selby additionally has targets.
He can change into the primary participant for 15 years to win the world and UK titles in the identical calendar yr, one thing carried out solely by Davis, Stephen Hendry, O’Sullivan, John Higgins and John Parrott. And a equally small group have gained every of the large three on two or extra events.
It guarantees to an excellent last and contest – prior to now such showpiece events between the pair have not often disenchanted.