Masters Snooker 2018
The Masters, sponsored by Dafabet, starts on January 14th and concludes the following Sunday evening. The top 16 players in the world will be competing for the £200,000 first prize and more importantly, the prestige of winning one of snooker's most coveted tournaments. Along with the World Championship and the UK Championship, the Masters is one of the legendary Triple Crown events in snooker that every player wishes to win. The Masters is not for ranking points, it is an invitational tournament open to only the elite players who make up snooker's top 16.
Held in London since 1975 and currently played at Alexandra Palace, the Masters has long been one of the highlights of the snooker calendar. The player who has enjoyed the most success in this tournament is Ronnie O'Sullivan, the 7 Masters titles he has claimed share the space in his trophy cabinet with the 5 World Championship and 6 UK Championship trophies he has won during career. 23 years after his first Masters title and having won for the last 2 years, O'Sullivan remains the number 1 seed for the event. After his victory in the UK Championship in December, he looks on course to claim yet another of the Triple Crown events.
Just behind O'Sullivan, on 6 Masters titles, is Stephen Hendry. A 7 time champion of the world and widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, the now-retired Hendry claimed the title here 5 times in a row in the late 80's and early 90's.
Another player who enjoyed great Masters success is the legend, Steve Davis. The dominant force in snooker throughout the 1980's, Davis played his part in a clash of the generations during the final of the 1997 Masters. Here he came up against a young Ronnie O'Sullivan, the young pretender who had exploded onto the snooker scene in 1992 at only 16 years old. O'Sullivan started strongly, quickly racing to an 8-4 lead and Davis looked done for, was this to be the end of him as a tournament winner? Steve had to pull something out to win, fortunately, a member of the crowd did. A streaker early in the match may have just unsettled O'Sullivan and with Ronnie starting to falter it became vintage Davis. Six frames in a row saw Davis claim the title 10-8, proving the old warrior could still compete with the best of the new generation.
The Dafabet Masters 2018
In 2016 the Masters trophy was renamed the Paul Hunter Trophy in honour of the popular 3-time winner who tragically died in 2006 at the age of 27. Hoping to take the trophy for the third time in a row will be Ronnie O'Sullivan, although his first round opponent, Marco Fu, will be wanting to go one better than his semi-final appearance last year. Elsewhere in the draw, the all Scottish clash between John Higgins and Anthony McGill looks a tough one to call, as does the all English affair between Shaun Murphy and Ali Carter. With only the top players invited, the Masters is always a tournament of high standards and this year looks certain to carry on that tradition of quality.
The last sixteen kicks off as follows:
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