Alexandra Palace in London will host the Masters this January with top players in the world all fighting for what will be the second Triple Crown event on the snooker calendar. The Masters differs from the other two Triple Crown events in the fact that it is not a ranking event. Despite this, it is still regarded as one of the most prestigious competitions in world snooker. Players in the 2016 competition will be playing for a share of the £600,000 prize fund, with the winner netting £200,000.
Defending champion Shaun Murphy will be the number 1 seed with World Champion Stuart Bingham seeded second. As ever though, much of the betting will surround Ronnie O'Sullivan who last lifted the trophy in 2014. Last year's runner-up Neil Robertson and Judd trump will also have their backers and there are some great odds to be had with leading sportsbooks.
Consecutive wins at the Masters are difficult to come by, so Murphy has a job on his hands if he wants to retain his title in this season. Mark Selby has proven to be the most successful Masters player in recent years, winning three titles in the last nine years. The late Paul Hunter was the last man to achieve consecutive victories, winning the 2001 and 2002 titles. ‘Snooker Spice’ then went on to win the Masters again in 2004 before tragically losing his battle with cancer in 2006.
What makes life harder again for any player is that the snooker circuit has proved to be one of the most tightly contested to date and there are around 10 or so that could realistically win the title.
Mark Selby Thrives On The Big Occasion
Mark Selby entered the 2014/15 season as world number one after he won the World Championship at the end of the previous season. We’ve already touched on his great Masters form recently, which goes to show how much he enjoys playing in this event. With Selby’s odds to win this years Masters quite high compared to the likes of O’Sullivan and Robertson, a bet on him may just prove a lucrative punt.
Stephen Hendry holds the record for the most Masters titles, having won the competition six times during his dominance over the game in the 1990’s. O’Sullivan is next with four titles, while Cliff Thorburn, Steve Davis, Paul Hunter and Mark Selby have all won three. Mark Williams, John Higgins and Alex Higgins have each won the title twice.
Most Successful Masters Players
- Stephen Hendry – 7 Titles
- Ronnie O’Sullivan – 5 Titles
- Steve Davis, Cliff Thorburn, Paul Hunter, Mark Selby – 3 Titles
- Mark Williams, John Higgins, Alex Higgins – 2 Titles
- Ding Junhui, Matthew Stevens, Alan McManus, Dennis Taylor, Jimmy White, Terry Griffiths, Perrie Mans, Doug Mountjoy, Ray Reardon, John Spencer – 1 Title
Only two maximum breaks (147’s) have been made in the history of the competition. Canada’s Kirk Stevens was the first to achieve it in 1984 and 23 years later Ding Junhui followed suit in the 2007 competition.