Chris Dobey arrives at the Masters this week as defending champion and keen to put a painful experience at the World Championship behind him.
Hollywood had a great season last time round, which began with lifting the Masters trophy, then saw him take on his first Premier League campaign, before reaching a string of big quarter-finals.
He reached the last eight again at Alexandra Palace and was on the verge of the semis as he opened up a 4-0 lead on Rob Cross, only to see Voltage storm back and beat him 5-4 in a remarkable turnaround.
Dobey came so close to his first World Championship semi-final and is not denying that it was a stinging loss from a dominant position.
‘It was a hard one to take from the Worlds, I should never have lost from that position,’ Dobey told Metro.co.uk. ‘I didn’t feel like I dropped my performance, Rob just gradually got better and thought he had nothing to lose at 4-0 down. He played fantastic.
‘It was a hard one to take but I feel as though I didn’t do a lot wrong, I played well. There’s stuff to improve on but I’m not going to let it get me down.’
Dobey, like all players, has suffered stinging losses over his career but he admits the defeat to Cross was the only one that left him close to tears.
‘I had 10-15 minutes to myself, obviously I was gutted,’ he said. ‘It’s probably the only game where I felt like I wanted to cry.
‘I’ve never felt like that before, but the biggest competition in the World, crucial moment, to reach the semis, it was massive. That was the closest I’ve come to crying, I was absolutely devastated, but I had my 10-15 minutes to myself and you put it behind you.
‘I’d have been a lot worse if I had crumbled. But I averaged 100 for the majority of the game, you’ve just got to say well done to Rob on the day, he came back, played well and got the job done.’
While the loss to Cross is what will stick in the memory from Dobey’s latest World Championship campaign, his run to the quarters was absolutely superb, turning in brilliant performances to beat Willie O’Connor, Ross Smith and Michael Smith.
‘To beat the reigning world champion and world number one at the time 4-0 was a massive win,’ he said of beating Michael Smith. ‘Tough start with Willie, then Ross and Michael, to come through it the way I did, I’m proud of myself. I shouldn’t have lost to Rob but you have to bounce back, it’s just a little set-back.’
Unfortunately for Dobey he felt that the defeat to Cross not only cost him a World Championship semi-final but also a place in the Premier League this year.
The 33-year-old believes he would have made the eight-man field if he had closed out the win, but he is taking inspiration from Luke Humphries who missed out last year and is now sitting pretty as world champion and world number one.
‘You never expect to be in, but I felt I had a good chance,’ he said of the Premier League. ‘I was pretty consistent.
‘If I’d won that game against Rob I probably would have been in. I still think I’d done enough but they have to choose. You have to put Luke Littler in, he got everyone watching and he’s done fantastic.
‘After the news I just looked at what they did last year with Luke Humphries, they said he wasn’t ready and look what he’s done this year. Hopefully that will get me back up for it and show everyone what I can do.
‘He’s the best player in the world at the minute, world number one, world champion, won the last four major events, so he’s done something right from getting that knock back of not getting in the Premier League. He’s answered every question going.’
The Masters was the first major title of Dobey’s career and he is relishing being introduced as defending champion in Milton Keynes on Friday night when he takes on Andrew Gilding in the opening round.
‘It’s going to be good to hear that,’ he said. ‘I’ve just got to stay focussed for that first game, don’t look ahead or think differently to what I normally do.
‘I’ve been playing well, practicing well, so hopefully I can go there and retain the title.’
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