World No 1 Mark Selby has vowed he will make no compromises to win the affections of snooker fans who find him boring.
After adding the Betway UK Championship title to his World Championship success, Selby has tightened his already firm grip on the top rung of the rankings ladder.
But being No 1 in the world comes with a price to pay, and Selby has found he has become a target for haters who consider his cautious style too plodding.
Fellow elite potter Neil Robertson defended Selby during Sunday’s UK final at the York Barbican, after several armchair fans took to Twitter to denigrate tactics on show early in what became a dazzling match-winning performance against Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Robertson reasoned it would be self-defeating for Selby to change the habits of a lifetime purely for the sake of placating his detractors. And Selby emphatically ruled out a change of approach, saying: “Winning is more important to me than being everyone’s favourite player.
“If I have to take stick on Twitter for winning then so be it. I’d rather that than lose and everyone like me.
“Ronnie and Stephen Hendry are two of the greatest players to ever play the game – but when Stephen was at his peak there were people who didn’t like him.
“That was mainly because he was winning all the while, and for Steve Davis it was the same. There are even people out there who don’t like Ronnie, despite his talent.
“There are people out there who enjoy watching me play and want me to do well, and people who don’t.
“Maybe it is inevitable if you are at the top of your sport and winning a lot.”
Selby has racked up 95 consecutive weeks at No 1 and looks sure to stay there at least until the World Championship in April.
This is looking like being defined as his era, just as the likes of Davis, Hendry and O’Sullivan had theirs.
Refreshingly ego-free, the 33-year-old Leicester man played down his preeminence after a 10-7 win over O’Sullivan.
“I am quite a laid-back person so I don’t really see this as my era of domination – even if it might look like that for someone else looking in,” he said.
“Because of where I have come from, with nothing, I still have to pinch myself if I hear comments like that.
“My father [who died when Selby was 16] had nothing and it has taken a lot to get to where I am, so I am just proud of myself for my achievements without saying things like that.”
O’Sullivan has been guilty in the past of criticising Selby’s style, labelling him the snooker tour’s “Torturer” in a 2013 memoir, but the pair are on friendly terms now after a recent spell touring in each other’s company on the exhibition circuit.
O’Sullivan, who turned 41 on Monday, said: “I like his mindset, I know he’s in the game for the right reasons, and he’s a good lad.
“He’s a fierce competitor on the table and I know that if he does sometimes get a bit slow and long, drawn-out frames, it’s not just because he’s playing me, that’s sometimes how it can go for him. I know it’s not intentional, it’s just he’s a tough match player.”