Bet of the Day: Selby to comfortably beat Wilson in World Championship

14th September 2021

The World Snooker Championship is into full swing now, with some shocks already having taken place – the exit of World Number One Ronnie O’Sullivan at the hands of unranked rookie James Cahill being a case in point. That result will have put the other contenders for the tournament on notice; no-one is going to have an easy run to the final and walk away with the premier title in the game. This evening sees another of the main contenders take to the baize for their second round match – the Jester from Leicester, Mark Selby, currently ranked Number Two, facing Gary Wilson.

Selby is now the highest-ranked potter left in the tournament, but his form has not been tip-top recently. Indeed, within the last six months, he too has lost to Cahill – at the UK Open in November. Ranked second in the world he may be, but at present Selby is showing up behind rivals Judd Trump and Neil Robertson in the outright betting for the tournament. In a tournament he has won three times – the last of which came in 2017 – the Jester will be seeking to prove himself all over again.

Big break for Selby?

Although Selby is best-known for his excellent tactical play – no-one on the tour is better at laying, or escaping from, snookers – he’s a player who can put a decent break together. In the history of the World Championship at the Crucible, only three players have potted more centuries than him. His first-round win over China’s Zhao Xhintong saw Selby compile another three 100s in a match where he was felt to have played well below his best. Against Wilson, Selby will hope to at least maintain that level of scoring.

Wilson, for his part, came through a tricky first-round win over Belgian Luca Brecel, but it was a win that relied on playing the right shots at the right times. Over the course of the match, Brecel scored more points and compiled the highest break. So Betfred’s odds of 3/10 on Selby to put together the highest-scoring visit to the table in this match seem to be well worth taking.

Slow start again from the Jester?

In the first round, Selby edged out his opponent by a 10-7 scoreline, but that should not disguise the difficulty the Leicester man had in shaking off Xhintong. Losing the first three frames, Selby fell behind by a score of 5-1 before seemingly waking up and taking nine of the next eleven. As the tournament continues and the quality of opponent increases, the 2017 champion will not get off the hook quite so easily if he falls behind again. Although the second round sees matches increase in length to the best of 25, it would be unwise of Selby to assume that his greater consistency will always get him off the hook.

With that said, Wilson will have been watching closely as the Chinese contender took the game to Selby early on, and it would be no surprise to see the underdog come out all guns blazing here to try and put the stronger player on the back foot. Betway have Wilson at 7/5 to win the first frame, and it’s worth a punt – the odds are certainly more generous than the 8/15 you’ll find on Selby to take first blood. Even if you follow the received wisdom that the three-time champion will eventually overpower the younger man, it’s far from unimaginable that the underdog will win the sprint before losing the marathon.

Back Selby to win comfortably in the end

With O’Sullivan already out of the competition, and Trump having sailed very close to the wind in eventually defeating Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, the message must have been heard loud and clear that no-one is safe in this season’s World Championship. The highest-ranked players will need to be tuned in from the earliest stages, as one poor session could mean an end to their title hopes. As such, it would be naive to expect Selby to simply run away with this match – but equally, there is nothing in the head-to-head history between these players to suggest that Wilson will spring the latest surprise.

In five previous encounters between these players, Selby has won all five without ever looking especially troubled. While Judd Trump admitted that Un-Nooh’s aggressive playing style drew him out of his comfort zone, there’s nothing in Wilson’s game to get the same kind of reckless reaction from Selby, and it’s hard to see anything other than the continuation of the favourite’s winning streak. Odds of ⅙ and shorter at all major bookies make the East Midlander more or less unbackable in the overall market, but you can back him with Unibet at 6/5 to win with a 5.5 handicap. In other words, if it’s 13-7 or anything more emphatic than that, you’d be a winner at that price. If you’re feeling slightly less brave, a 4.5 handicap puts Selby at 17/20.

Bets of the Day

Selby (-5.5) to win (Unibet, 6/5); Wilson to take first frame (Betway, 7/5); Selby Highest Break (Betfred, 3/10)

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