CHRIS Melling hopes to prove he is the people's champion when he battles alongside the world's best pool players this weekend.

The Keighley ace takes to the table in the preliminary round of the World Pool Masters in Gibraltar against New Zealand's Matt Edwards tomorrow night.

Melling won the fans' choice to line up at the World Masters after claiming 29.29 per cent of an online vote, beating second-placed Francisco Diaz Pizarro, who secured 28.24 per cent.

Melling, who is ranked number 10 in the world, was part of a five-player shortlist which was whittled down from an initial 20,000 players from across the globe.

The 40-year-old is part of a 24-strong field of the world’s best players battling it out for share of a $100,000 prize fund with the winner set to scoop $25,000.

Melling, who reached the last-16 of the Chinese World 8-Ball Championships last weekend, said he is confident of success at the world event and will have plenty of support in Gibraltar.

He said: "It will be tough, it features the best 24 players in the world, but I have a decent section of the draw.

"I have still got to play to the best of my ability. I am looking to win it. I have belief in myself.

"I have about 20 people coming to watch the Masters, there will be quite a few from Keighley and a lot from Gibraltar too. I will probably have the biggest crowd there.

"It will be shown on Sky Sports. I'm looking forward to it and can't wait to play.

"It was quite touching to win the people's vote. It was very special.

"The amount of people from Keighley and the surrounding areas who supported me was frightening. I put the voting details on my social media and everybody was sharing it.

"There is a lot of travelling involved in playing pool. I have been doing this since I was three years old. I did not have much of a childhood as I was practising all of the time. But I still have to put the hours in now.

"I have been to China about 40 times, been to America about 50 times and been to most countries in the world. I have been on television and I get asked for autographs, that's what it's all about.

"I want to put Keighley on the map."

The World Pool Masters line-up includes eight players who qualified for the event by winning major nine-ball tournaments and these eight players go straight into the last 16.

The remaining 16 invited players play in the preliminary round, with players joining the last 16 draw in order of their seeding. Players in the preliminary round were seeded by their current WPA World Ranking.

The World Pool Masters takes place at Victoria Stadium, Gibraltar, from tomorrow until Sunday.

The full line-up for the 2019 World Pool Masters is: Qualified players: Niels Feijen (Netherlands) – Defending champion; Alex Kazakis (Greece) – WPA World No.1 Male on Jan 1 2019; Joshua Filler (Germany)- WPA World 9-Ball Champion; Jayson Shaw (Scotland) – US Open 9-Ball Champion; Konrad Juszczyszyn (Poland) – European 9-Ball Champion; Skyler Woodward (USA) – Mosconi Cup MVP; Ko Pin-Yi (Chinese Taipei) – Asian Champion; Han you (China)WPA World No.1 Female (Han Yu (CHN).

Invited players: Eklenti Kaci (Albania), Shane van Boening (USA), David Alcaide (Spain), Francisco Sanchez Ruiz (Spain), Matt Edwards (New Zealand), Naoyuki Oi (Japan), Albin Ouschan (Austria), Fedor Gorst (Russia), Jeff De Luna (Philippines), Earl Strickland (USA), Kelly Fisher (England), Wu Jiaqing (China), Justin Sajich (Australia), Petri Makkonen (Finland), Alex Pagulayan (Canada).

Fans’ Choice: Chris Melling (England).