World number 32 Gary Wilson secured the biggest win of his career, defeating three-time Crucible king Mark Selby 13-10 to reach the last eight of the Betfred World Championship.
Wilson will now turn his attentions to a first ever Crucible quarter-final. The former taxi driver from Wallsend faces either Ali Carter or Zhou Yuelong for the right to compete in the one-table setup. That means a qualifier is guaranteed to make the semi-finals.
33-year-old Wilson has now secured the biggest payday of his career, with £50,000 assured for reaching the quarter-finals. That supersedes his previous best, which came for reaching the final of the 2015 China Open where he picked up £35,000. On that occasion he faced Selby and succumbed to a 10-2 defeat.
Defeat will be a big blow for Selby. The 15-time ranking event winner lost his world number one spot to Ronnie O’Sullivan last month, having held the position since February 2015. He has now failed to win an event in the UK for two years, dating back to his victory at the 2017 World Championship.
Wilson claimed the final three frames of yesterday’s second session to emerge with a 9-7 advantage. However, Selby turned up the heat when play got underway today. A break of 81 saw him take the opener, before claiming the 18th frame to level at 9-9.
Despite Selby’s strong start, Wilson refused to buckle in the Crucible cauldron. He traded frames with his illustrious opponent to reach 10-10. As they entered the business end of the encounter, it was Wilson who looked the most comfortable.
A break of 86 saw Wilson move 11-10 up. The following frame was a fragmented and tactical affair. Wilson gained the upper hand and won a 49-minute frame to edge one from victory at 12-10. He crossed the line in style with a fine break of 92.
Wilson said: “It wasn’t so much the best performance of my career, but it’s the best result of my career so far. I’m absolutely over the moon to have won that game. Mark missed a few, I missed a few and it got a little bit scrappy at times. But, I held my nerve quite well and that basically got me over the line.
“There are other players on the tour that you look at and think, there’s no reason I can’t do as well as that. It’s just about doing as best I can. This is the biggest stage we play on, and I want to play my best snooker.
“I don’t mind who I face next, it’s just about playing the opponent and hopefully I’ll get the result and go through. I don’t feel like I’m playing well enough yet to do well in the tournament. I’ve got through a couple of great games and I’m really proud of myself, but I know I’m going to have to play better.”
Selby said: “It was a strange match all the way through. I was in and out of focus. In the last few years, when it has come to the crunch, I’ve fancied the job. I felt a little bit edgy out there and I think that is probably because of the season I’ve had. I probably lacked a little bit of confidence. Gary played well and he deserved to win.
“I won’t go back to the practice table too soon that’s for sure. I’ll have a good month off, go on holiday and then come back to practice only a week or two before the season starts again. It’s such a long season. You need to try and forget everything and just go again next season.”