Luca Brecel's Best Long Pots | 2023 Cazoo World Championship

Free-Rolling Selt Grabs Chance

Matthew SeltMatthew Selt, who was only handed a place in the Ladbrokes Players Championship late last week after Mark Selby’s withdrawal, took advantage with a 4-1 win over Andrew Higginson.

Selt initially thought he had missed out on the world ranking event in Manchester by one place, with only the best 32 players from the European and Asian Tour Order of Merits qualifying. But when Selby pulled out, Selt got a call to say he had replaced the world number one in the draw.

Selt is now up to 22nd in the projected rankings and could catch 16th-placed Liang Wenbo with a run to the final this week.

“I feel very lucky and it’s a massive opportunity,” said Romford’s Selt, whose top break today was 50. “A week ago I wasn’t in the tournament and now I’m in the last 16 so I’m just free-rolling. This is one of the biggest tournaments of the season so to be in it is a real bonus.

“I was practising with Shaun Murphy on Friday when I found out. After the Gdynia Open I was devastated to finish 33rd on the list because Martin Gould got to the final of the last event. It was my own fault because I didn’t win enough matches. So I was delighted to be given a place in the draw. We play so many tournaments now that there was no problem in terms of preparation, I was ready.

“I’m in there fighting for a top 16 place and now I’ve got two chances rather than one to make up ground. There’s no O’Sullivan, Robertson or Selby this week so it’s a chance for everyone.”

World number nine Mark Allen came through a tough test against Mark Davis, winning 4-3. Allen started with a break of 123 before Davis hit back to lead 2-1 and 3-2. Allen took a scrappy sixth frame then won the decider with runs of 32 and 50.

“I’m really struggling with my cue, I’m not trusting any shot with side or power or from distance,” said Northern Ireland’s Allen. “It feels as if the ferrule is going to break. The tip is smaller than I’ve ever had and when I play with side it’s throwing the ball off. After this week I’ll be sending it to John Parris to fix ahead of the World Championship.

“I haven’t played well this season but I’m still number nine in the world. My confidence has been low apart from a few spells. I have done ok but it’s not where I want to be, which is winning tournaments. My safety was horrendous in the early part of the match today and I’ll need to play better tomorrow.”

Allen now meets Mark King, who saw off Sam Baird 4-2 with a top break of 56. World number eight Barry Hawkins scored a 4-2 win over Michael Holt with top breaks of 75 and 73.