Selby emerges after marathon
Brecel remains in stunning form
Close Selby win is likeliest result
No matter how many years and renewals go by, it never ceases to amaze me just how brilliant, and unique, this tournament is. Yesterday's semi-finals produced memories and an experience for the ages. Yet in reality, we are quite used to late night marathons and incredible comebacks at the Crucible. They just never seem imminent until they are, in these three/four session matches.
So anyway, we emerge bleary-eyed after a 1am finish and have another four-session marathon to consider. Mark Selby bids for his fifth Crucible title against Luca Brecel, who had never won a match here until this year. On that basis, a no-brainer, but plenty of precedent has been defied this year. Despite being on Selby from the start, I am not taking anything for granted.
Was top half of the draw superior?
Looking back at the last 15 days, one might argue that the better snooker was played in the top half of the draw. Brecel came through a very high-class affair against Mark Williams, then launched an historic comeback against Ronnie O'Sullivan. Form doesn't read much better, and then he came from nine frames down against Si Jiahui.
But then perhaps that argument is a matter of styles. The top half produced blistering, quick, attacking snooker. Whereas Selby dominated the bottom half by doing what he does best. Unrivalled tactical play, stamina, simply grinding down even the most experienced and resilient opponents. He had John Higgins in pieces.
Ask me a week ago who wins this match and I would say Selby locks out Brecel and exposes his vastly inferior tactical game. Now I'm not sure. The Belgian seems nerveless and capable of blowing anyone away. I do not see this as a one-sided affair, by any stretch.
Fresher man can start well
With most humans, playing a final in the afternoon following finishing a gruelling semi at 1am would be a significant handicap. However Selby won his last four world titles following a gruelling semi. He can handle it. Nevertheless, taking odds of 1.48 at this moment does not feel like a sensible bet.
Selby has been gambled down to those odds overnight and I think that makes Brecel the value trade at 3.05. Mark is famous for getting far behind in matches so if he does, and could very well do so again.
For the start, try a back to lay. Take 3.05 and place a lay order at 1.5. The odds of this trade equate to very slightly above even money. However also get the likeliest outcome - a narrow Selby victory - onside, with a correct score combo on 18-17, 18-16 and 18-15. This, after all, is what the Jester does. Enjoy!
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