Masters (snooker)

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The Masters
2014 Masters (snooker) logo.jpg
Tournament information
Venue Alexandra Palace
Location London
Country England
Established 1975
Organisation(s) World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association
Format Non-ranking event
Total prize fund £600,000[1]
Current champion(s) England Ronnie O'Sullivan

The Masters is a professional snooker tournament. Held every year since 1975, it is the second longest running tournament behind the World Championship. It is one of the Triple Crown events,[2] and although not a ranking event, it is regarded as one of the most prestigious tournaments on the circuit.[3] The reigning champion is Ronnie O'Sullivan.

The Masters began as an invitational event for the top 10 players. The field was expanded to 12 competitors in 1981, and 16 in 1983. Since 1984, the standard invitees have been the top 16 players in the world rankings,[4] with the addition of two or three wild-card places in tournaments held between 1990 and 2010.

Stephen Hendry holds the record for the most Masters titles, having won the tournament six times. Ronnie O'Sullivan has won five titles. Cliff Thorburn, Steve Davis, Paul Hunter, and Mark Selby have each won the Masters three times. Alex Higgins, Mark Williams, and John Higgins have each won the title twice.

Two maximum breaks have been made in the history of the tournament, both by overseas players. Canada's Kirk Stevens made the first in 1984 and China's Ding Junhui made the second in 2007.

History[edit]

1975–1996[edit]

The tournament was held for the first time in 1975 at the West Centre Hotel in London, when the top ten players were invited. The event was sponsored by the cigarette company, Benson & Hedges. John Spencer won the inaugural tournament by defeating Ray Reardon 9–8 in the final. The following year the event moved to the New London Theatre and in 1979 to the Wembley Conference Centre.[3]

In 1981 the number of players invited to compete was increased to 12, and then increased again to 16 in 1983. From 1984 onwards the top 16 players in the world rankings were automatically invited to the tournament.[3] In 1984 Kirk Stevens became the first player to make a maximum break at the event against Jimmy White in the semi-final.[3][5] In 1988 Mike Hallett became the first and to date only player to be whitewashed in a Masters final, having lost 0–9 to Steve Davis.[3] Stephen Hendry maintained an unbeaten record in the event, a run which included five successive championship victories, from his first appearance in 1989 until his defeat by Alan McManus in a final-frame decider in the 1994 final.[3] Hallett reached his second final in four years in 1991, but lost 8–9 against Hendry, despite leading 7–0 and 8–2. This defeat effectively ended Hallett's days as a major force in the game.[3]

In 1990 the sponsors introduced two wild-cards,[3] granted by the game's governing body at their discretion, who would play wild-card matches against the players seeded 15th and 16th for a place in the first round of the tournament. For the 1991 tournament, the Benson & Hedges Championship was introduced: this granted the winner one of the two wild-card places.[3] The other continued to be granted by the governing body. From 1996 the final was changed from a best of 17 to a best of 19 frames match.[3]

1997–2006[edit]

The Masters trophy used since 2004

In the 1997 final, Steve Davis defeated Ronnie O'Sullivan in a match disrupted by a streaker.[6] Davis came back from 4–8 down to win the remaining six frames in a row, clinching the final at 10–8.[7] The 1998 final went down to a re-spotted black in the deciding frame; Mark Williams defeated Stephen Hendry 10–9 after having trailed 6–9.[8][9] In the 2000 final Ken Doherty missed the final black in a 147 attempt,[10] and eventually lost to Matthew Stevens.[11]

In 2003, Benson & Hedges had to end the sponsorship of the event due to UK restrictions on tobacco advertising, and the tournament was unsponsored in 2004. In 2005, Rileys Club became the sponsor of the event. There was also no qualifying competition, and both wild-card places were awarded by the governing body, but the competition returned the following season.[12] SAGA Insurance took over sponsorship of the tournament in 2006 and later the same year agreed to a deal to sponsor the event until 2009.[13] 2006 was also the last year the tournament was held at the Wembley Conference Centre, before it was demolished in the same summer to make place for redevelopment.[14] Following the death of Paul Hunter in October 2006,[15] Jimmy White led calls for the Masters trophy or tournament to be renamed in honour of Hunter, who had won the title three times in four years between 2001 and 2004.[16] Lindsey Hunter, widow of Paul Hunter, later expressed her wishes for the trophy to be renamed, claiming that "...everybody expected it. Every player I've spoken to, every fan, thought it would be a definite".[17] World Snooker, the sport's governing body, decided against renaming the trophy, stating "Our board unanimously agreed that the Paul Hunter Scholarship was the most fitting tribute. Just as Hunter himself rose swiftly through the amateur ranks, the scholarship will give a gifted young player the chance to fulfil his talent through elite training."[17]

2007–present[edit]

Arena in the Alexandra Palace during 2012

In a slight change for 2007, one extra discretionary wild-card place was awarded, bringing the total number of players up to 19.[18] The event was held at the Wembley Arena.[19] For 2008 the tournament reverted to having only two wild-card players.[20]

Ronnie O'Sullivan appeared in four successive finals from 2004 to 2007, winning in 2005 and 2007. Paul Hunter won the first of these, recovering from 2–7 down to win 10–9 against Ronnie, making five century breaks along the way.[21] This was Hunter's third Masters win in four years.[3] O'Sullivan put on a great display to defeat John Higgins in the 2005 final, 10–3.[22] The next year, they met once again in the final, which saw a very high standard of play throughout the match, including back-to-back total clearances of 138 and 139 for O'Sullivan to win frames 2 and 3, before losing the next five frames in a row. In the deciding frame, O'Sullivan made a break of 60, before letting Higgins back in the frame. Higgins made a clearance of 64 to win the title on the black.[23][24] However, O'Sullivan redeemed himself the in 2007 by dominating Ding Junhui, winning 10–3 and then comforting the clearly upset youngster afterwards.[25][26] In the same year Ding Junhui became the second player to compile a maximum break at the event, a feat he achieved against Anthony Hamilton in the wild-card round.[3][5][20][27]

In the summer of 2008 SAGA Insurance pulled out of the sponsorship of the event,[28] and the event was unsponsored in 2009.[3] The event was sponsored by PokerStars.com in 2010.[29] The qualifying competition was removed again for the 2011 Masters, no wild-card places were given,[30] and the event was sponsored by Ladbrokes Mobile.[3][31] The final of the event made history, as it was the first to feature two Asian players in the final.[32] In 2012 the event was moved to the Alexandra Palace in London,[33] and was sponsored by BGC Partners.[34] The tournament is set to stay at 'Ally Pally' until 2015.[35] The event was sponsored by Betfair in 2013.[36] Since 2014 until at least 2017 the tournament is sponsored by Dafabet.[37]

Winners[edit]

[3][38][39][40]

Year Winner Runner-up Final score Season
1975 England John Spencer Wales Ray Reardon 9–8 1974/75
1976 Wales Ray Reardon England Graham Miles 7–3 1975/76
1977 Wales Doug Mountjoy Wales Ray Reardon 7–6 1976/77
1978 Northern Ireland Alex Higgins Canada Cliff Thorburn 7–5 1977/78
1979 South Africa Perrie Mans Northern Ireland Alex Higgins 8–4 1978/79
1980 Wales Terry Griffiths Northern Ireland Alex Higgins 9–5 1979/80
1981 Northern Ireland Alex Higgins Wales Terry Griffiths 9–6 1980/81
1982 England Steve Davis Wales Terry Griffiths 9–5 1981/82
1983 Canada Cliff Thorburn Wales Ray Reardon 9–7 1982/83
1984 England Jimmy White Wales Terry Griffiths 9–5 1983/84
1985 Canada Cliff Thorburn Wales Doug Mountjoy 9–6 1984/85
1986 Canada Cliff Thorburn England Jimmy White 9–5 1985/86
1987 Northern Ireland Dennis Taylor Northern Ireland Alex Higgins 9–8 1986/87
1988 England Steve Davis England Mike Hallett 9–0 1987/88
1989 Scotland Stephen Hendry England John Parrott 9–6 1988/89
1990 Scotland Stephen Hendry England John Parrott 9–4 1989/90
1991 Scotland Stephen Hendry England Mike Hallett 9–8 1990/91
1992 Scotland Stephen Hendry England John Parrott 9–4 1991/92
1993 Scotland Stephen Hendry Thailand James Wattana 9–5 1992/93
1994 Scotland Alan McManus Scotland Stephen Hendry 9–8 1993/94
1995 England Ronnie O'Sullivan Scotland John Higgins 9–3 1994/95
1996 Scotland Stephen Hendry England Ronnie O'Sullivan 10–5 1995/96
1997 England Steve Davis England Ronnie O'Sullivan 10–8 1996/97
1998 Wales Mark Williams Scotland Stephen Hendry 10–9 1997/98
1999 Scotland John Higgins Republic of Ireland Ken Doherty 10–8 1998/99
2000 Wales Matthew Stevens Republic of Ireland Ken Doherty 10–8 1999/00
2001 England Paul Hunter Republic of Ireland Fergal O'Brien 10–9 2000/01
2002 England Paul Hunter Wales Mark Williams 10–9 2001/02
2003 Wales Mark Williams Scotland Stephen Hendry 10–4 2002/03
2004 England Paul Hunter England Ronnie O'Sullivan 10–9 2003/04
2005 England Ronnie O'Sullivan Scotland John Higgins 10–3 2004/05
2006 Scotland John Higgins England Ronnie O'Sullivan 10–9 2005/06
2007 England Ronnie O'Sullivan China Ding Junhui 10–3 2006/07
2008 England Mark Selby England Stephen Lee 10–3 2007/08
2009 England Ronnie O'Sullivan England Mark Selby 10–8 2008/09
2010 England Mark Selby England Ronnie O'Sullivan 10–9 2009/10
2011 China Ding Junhui Hong Kong Marco Fu 10–4 2010/11
2012[41] Australia Neil Robertson England Shaun Murphy 10–6 2011/12
2013[42] England Mark Selby Australia Neil Robertson 10–6 2012/13
2014[43] England Ronnie O'Sullivan England Mark Selby 10–4 2013/14
2015[44] 2014/15

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Prize Money Breakdowns 2013/14". worldsnooker.com. World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. 1 May 2013. Archived from the original on 12 October 2013. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  2. ^ "Mark Selby eyes snooker's Triple Crown after Masters win". BBC Sport. 21 January 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Turner, Chris. "The Masters". cajt.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk. Chris Turner's Snooker Archive. Archived from the original on 7 January 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2011. 
  4. ^ "Masters Snooker 2014: Ding Junhui to face Shaun Murphy". BBC Sport. 8 December 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Turner, Chris. "Maximum Breaks". cajt.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk. Chris Turner's Snooker Archive. Archived from the original on 10 February 2013. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "The Masters – A Potted History". Global Snooker. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  7. ^ "Benson & Hedges Masters 1996". Snooker.org. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  8. ^ "Williams is the Master". Liverpool Daily Post (archived on TheFreeDictionary.com. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  9. ^ "Benson & Hedges Masters 1998". Snooker.org. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  10. ^ Dee, John (30 March 2005). "Doherty misses out on his maximum". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  11. ^ "Benson & Hedges Masters 2000". Snooker.org. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  12. ^ Turner, Chris. "Benson & Hedges Championship, Masters Qualifying Tournament". cajt.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk. Chris Turner's Snooker Archive. Archived from the original on 16 February 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2011. 
  13. ^ "SAGA Insurance sign until 2009". SportBusiness International Online. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  14. ^ "Search on for new Masters venue". BBC Sport. 18 January 2006. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  15. ^ "Hunter loses battle with cancer". BBC Sport. 9 October 2006. Retrieved 14 January 2007. 
  16. ^ Harlow, Phil (5 January 2007). "Hunter Masters tribute ruled out". BBC Sport. Retrieved 14 January 2007. 
  17. ^ a b "Hunter's widow in Masters appeal". BBC Sport. 12 January 2007. Retrieved 14 January 2007. 
  18. ^ "SAGA Insurance Masters 2007". Snooker.org. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  19. ^ "New Wembley home for the Masters". BBC Sport. 12 October 2006. Retrieved 14 January 2007. 
  20. ^ a b "SAGA Insurance Masters 2008". Snooker.org. Retrieved 1 March 2011. 
  21. ^ "Masters 2004". Snooker.org. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  22. ^ "Rileys Club Masters 2005". Snooker.org. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  23. ^ "SAGA Insurance Masters 2006". Snooker.org. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  24. ^ "Higgins claims Masters thriller". BBC Sport. 23 January 2006. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  25. ^ "SAGA Insurance Masters 2007". Snooker.org. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  26. ^ "Superb Rocket beats Ding in final". BBC Sport. 21 January 2007. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  27. ^ "Ding compiles maximum at Masters". BBC Sport. 14 January 2007. Retrieved 14 January 2007. 
  28. ^ "Snooker suffers blow as sponsors pull out". Marketing Week. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  29. ^ Garbett, Paul (6 January 2010). "Masters snooker seals sponsorship deal". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 January 2010. 
  30. ^ "The Masters 2011". Global Snooker. Retrieved 17 December 2010. 
  31. ^ "Ladbrokes Mobile to sponsor Masters". World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. 27 December 2010. Retrieved 27 December 2010. 
  32. ^ "Ding Sets Up Historic Final". World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. 14 January 2011. Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  33. ^ "Masters Snooker Goes To Alexandra Palace". worldsnooker.com. World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  34. ^ "BGC Partners Sponsor The Masters". worldsnooker.com. World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. Retrieved 14 January 2012. 
  35. ^ "Masters Snooker Returns To Alexandra Palace". worldsnooker.com. World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  36. ^ "Betfair Sponsor The Masters". worldsnooker.com. World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. 8 November 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  37. ^ "Dafabet Sponsor The Masters Until 2017". worldsnooker.com. World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. 11 November 2014. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  38. ^ "The Masters – History". worldsnooker.com. World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  39. ^ "The Masters". Snooker Scene. Archived from the original on 24 January 2013. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  40. ^ "Hall of Fame". Snooker.org. Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  41. ^ "BGC Masters (2012)". Snooker.org. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  42. ^ "Betfair Masters (2013)". Snooker.org. Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  43. ^ "Dafabet Masters (2014)". Snooker.org. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  44. ^ "Dafabet Masters (2015)". Snooker.org. Retrieved 16 May 2014.