KEIGHLEY pool maestro Chris Melling is a busy man, and his adoring fans from around the world have ensured he has another international tournament to fit into his packed schedule.

He won the public vote to take the 24th and final place at the World Pool Masters in Gibraltar at the end of next month, adding to upcoming tournaments in Romania and the USA.

He said: “I've already been on 16 flights this year and coming up, I’ve got a World 10-ball tournament in Las Vegas, Gibraltar after that, the Bucharest Open at the start of April, then straight back to America for the US Open.

“I’m supposed to be playing in China too, but there’s a bit of uncertainty with the coronavirus. I’m contracted to play six times a year in the league out there as well, so hopefully we can still get those dates in.”

The World Pool Masters tournament in Gibraltar is arguably Melling’s biggest in the next couple of months, and he was grateful to win the public vote.

Thanking his fanbase, he said: “I’ve got around 20,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter and there’s a videoed clearance of mine that has about 77m views on social media and YouTube.

“I’ve got a big following in Keighley but I was also getting votes and support from China and Gibraltar.

“It’s a massive tournament and it has the best 24 players in the world, so each game is about as tough as you can get.

“Most tournaments you get one or two easy rounds but here, you might only get one chance. To win this, it doesn’t get much bigger.”

He could go up against regular roommate Jayson Shaw in Gibraltar, who beat him 9-7 in an epic semi-final clash at the GB9 Midlands Classic a fortnight ago.

Discussing Shaw, Melling said: “I relish playing Jason because in my opinion, he’s the best player in the world.

“He’s won three of his last four tournaments and was in the final of the other. He’s been consistent and when you’re doing well, you tend to get the run of the ball.

“It’s swings and roundabouts, because I had a spell of 12-18 months like that where everything went my way, whereas right now, I’m doing well but I’m not getting the wins, losing 9-8, 4-3 or 7-6.”

He got a few in that last big tournament though, saying: “(At the Midlands Classic), my section was unbelievable, so it was great to get through to the semi-final.

“I played Imran Majid (and won 9-7) in the second game, who's one of the best players in the UK.

“He would have been fuming because he was highly-ranked, which normally gets you a better draw but Jayson and I are not affiliated with the GB 9-ball tour, so we came in lower-ranked.”

Melling is looking towards another tournament in the near future, but this one is strictly personal, not professional.

He explained: “I want to run a big charity event for Mark Price (see article below). He’s a good friend of mine from Keighley that passed away at the weekend.

“I only spoke to him a few days ago because he was asking about getting tickets to see me in Gibraltar, as he was living near there.

“His family are trying to raise money to bring him back to the UK, and this charity tournament is definitely something I want to do to help out.”