January can be a depressing time of year as some people are smashed after the festive season, but for those who follow professional snooker, this time of year can be one of the most exciting times of the year with the inaugural Masters tournament taking place.
The Masters is an elite tournament with only the best of the best snooker players battling it out on the baize for the coveted £200,000 first prize.
There’s been many winners of the Masters over the decades but if there’s one player that wants to prove a point this year, it’s defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan whose aiming for his seventh title.
The great thing about the Masters is that every match is a big match. There are no easy games here and that adds to the excitement surrounding the entire event.
Since winning the Masters and then the Welsh Open early last year, O’Sullivan has failed to lift a trophy since then despite entering most of the tournaments. For those who support O’Sullivan, these times have been worrying as the 41 year old has struggled to win matches.
O’Sullivan has been drawn against friend and practice partner, Liang Wenbo in the first round. Wenbo hasn’t had the most consistent season either, but the Chinese player has won the English Open earlier in the year so the ability to beat O’Sullivan is there.
The first round match will be a big test for O’Sullivan but if he wins, this could be a springboard for the genius to go far, if not all the way in this tournament.
Most of the attention has been on Ronnie O’Sullivan as usual, but what about the rest of the pack?
Mark Selby is coming to the Masters as No.1 snooker player in the world and having just won the second
biggest event of the year, the UK Championships. Surely this is the man to beat?
Mark Williams might have something to say about Selby’s challenge to the title, but there’s no question; Selby is the overwhelming favorite to win this match.
John Higgins comes to the Ally Pally as one of the player’s of the season. Having won the last two invitational events (China Championship and the Champion of Champions), Higgins will undoubtedly be in with a good shout this year.
Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen hasn’t had the best seaso
n so far but he has the pedigree within him to
beat anyone when he’s on it. Can he cause an early upset and knock out John Higgins?
Shaun Murphy recently said he is chasing the No.1 spot. The World No.5 is only shy of 500k behind Mark Selby so he needs some big wins to come even close to the current No.1. Murphy will be taking on last year’s finalist, Barry Hawkins in the first round.
Lets not forget Judd Trump, Ding Junhui and Neil Robertson.
The action starts on Sunday with the first match being Ronnie O’Sullivan v Liang Wenbo. Not a match to be missed.