Mark Selby’s retirement threat shows confidence is fickle even for the greats

Mark Selby was extremely downbeat after defeat to Gary Wilson in Manchester (Picture: Getty Images)

Mark Selby shocked snooker fans on Tuesday by saying he could give up the game after the upcoming World Championship if he plays like he did in defeat to Gary Wilson at the Tour Championship this week.

The four-time world champion was a long way from his best at he was beaten 10-8 by the Tyneside Terror in Manchester and now has to lick his wounds before heading to The Crucible later this month.

He certainly didn’t play well, but it was surprising to hear Selby talk the way he did after defeat, saying that he could hang up the cue in a matter of weeks unless his performance improves.

‘I was pathetic from start to finish,’ he said on ITV. ‘Probably one of the worst games I’ve played as a professional. If I carry on playing like that I won’t be enjoying it and choosing a different career, for sure.’

‘I’ll give the World Championships a go but if I carry on like that I won’t carry on. 100 per cent. I’ve always said, when it gets to the point I’m not enjoying it, it doesn’t matter where I am in the rankings, I’ll be hanging my cue up. I can’t enjoy performances like that.’

He added: ‘I battled but it was terrible. If I carry on playing like that, that will be it for me for sure.

‘I am putting the work in, but then if you are putting it in for performances like that it seems pointless really.

2024 Johnstone's Paint Tour Championship - Day 1

Gary Wilson booked a quarter-final against Zhang Anda by beating Selby (Picture: Getty Images)

‘My performances this year have been like night and day. There has been no consistency. I started the season off OK and then was pathetic midway through. You think you’ve found something and the next game you are back to where you were.

‘If I put in the same performance in Sheffield that will be me done.’

The 40-year-old has not had his best season, but it has hardly been a disaster, illustrated by the fact he is playing at the Tour Championship which is only for the top 12 on the one-year ranking list.

In February he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-0 at the Players Championship in an immense display, then he won the Invitational Championship League last month.

It was only last weekend, on his way to reaching the final of the World Mixed Doubles that Selby said he felt he was playing well and feeling confident.

‘I feel like the last few comps I’ve been playing a bit better,’ he told Metro last weekend. ‘Played well against Ronnie, any win against Ronnie is good but it wasn’t like I fell over the line, I played really good.

‘In the league I played good, won that. Out in China [World Open] I played good, Jackson [Page] just played unbelievable against me, I can’t remember him missing a pot, I think I only missed two balls in the whole match. If anyone plays like that against you, you can accept losing, you just have to hold your hands up.

‘I’m feeling a lot better in my game, a lot more confident, so hopefully I’m peaking at the right time.’

Clearly the inconsistency is what is bothering Selby as he felt the underperformance against Wilson bucked an encouraging trend.

Regardless of that one match he will still head to the World Championship as one of the favourites to lift the trophy, having done so four times in the past and only narrowly missed out in the final last year to Luca Brecel.

A difficult time off the table, with his wife Vikki suffering serious illness and the death of a close family friend has made consistency of performance ever more difficult, but clearly Selby still has an enormous amount to offer on the table.

The retirement talk may have started, but the Jester hanging up his cue could still be a long, long way off.


MORE : Mark Selby gives his take on the ‘ITV curse’ as he bids to end it at Tour Championship


MORE : John Higgins drops retirement hint after Tour Championship exit

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