The “Jester” is through to the last four of the event for the first time since 2013
Mark Selby relied on all of his battling qualities to come through two tough tests and reach the Champion of Champions semi-finals on Wednesday in Milton Keynes.
The Englishman didn’t score heavily throughout the third day of action at the Marshall Arena, but he survived in trademark brinkmanship fashion.
After overcoming Luca Brecel in the first round with a high break of just 53, Selby faced countryman Kyren Wilson who had easily beaten Stephen Maguire with the aid of a 130 century break.
Wilson began the contest the stronger and established a 4-0 advantage, seemingly putting the recent Championship League winner on the cusp of a place among the final four.
Yet, Selby has built a reputation of being one of the greatest match players in history and again that came to fruition as he slowly reeled his opponent in.
The snooker wasn’t always pretty and both competitors averaged more than 25 seconds per shot – arguably the kind of situation that the Leicester man revels in the most.
After winning three frames on the bounce to get back into the affair, Wilson steadied the ship by pinching a tight eighth frame that edged him closer to the winning line at 5-3.
However, an undeterred Selby fought back once more and two frames later the pair required a decider to settle matters.
Wilson didn’t receive an opportunity to get points on the board, with Selby duly booking his semi-finals spot with a run of 74.
This season’s European Masters winner joins reigning champion Neil Robertson and last year’s runner-up Judd Trump in the penultimate round.
Should Ronnie O’Sullivan join that trio on Thursday, it would mean that the top four players in the world rankings would compete at the semi-final stage in what would set up a grandstand finale.
O’Sullivan, three times a Champion of Champions winner and five times a finalist overall since the tournament’s inaugural edition, faces Michael Holt in the last 16 before a potential clash against either Mark Allen or Scott Donaldson.