The 2015 Dafabet Masters

15:10:00 Ramona Dragomir 0 Comments

We are officially a few hours away from the most prestigious invitational event of the snooker season - the Masters. The draw was established some time ago (in December to be more precise), the tickets have been sold (actually some extra tickets were added to the delight of hungry fans), the TV schedule is set, so we are ready to kick off this Sunday.

I won't be doing any predictions as who's going to win or anything like that, mainly because my fellow bloggers have covered this subject beautifully and to be quite honest, I don't like predictions.

However, I will say this: of course everyone is seeing Ronnie O'Sullivan with a great chance to defend his title. I mean, the man won a thrilling UK Championship final against Judd Trump a month ago, for crying out loud!

The reigning champion
To all that, we can add the fact that he's shared his intention of overshadowing Stephen Hendry's record of 775 century breaks and set a new one at 1.000, his improved and much-stable state of mind (bless you Dr Steve Peters!) and of course the fact that he's enjoining snooker and plays it like no other.

Still, let's not forget the moment of "lost in space" from the aforementioned UK Championship final, when Ronnie was about to win the match, but instead let Judd make that incredible comeback. After the final, the champion himself admitted that his mind was "gone".

Those sorts of moments are the ones to be feared by the Rocket, as well as those of twisting his ankle or other vital parts of his body that help him play snooker, just before the tournament starts.

His first opponent is Ricky Walden, the man who got whitewashed last year by an excruciating 6-0 scoreline and received a total of 556 unanswered points from the Rocket. 

Can Selby regain his form?
The Englishman has recovered from a shoulder injury suffered during the UK Championship, but he's confident he'll be playing some good snooker against the reigning champion.

Another "golden boy" of the Masters tournament is without any doubt Mark Selby who has failed to find some form lately, but who will definitely try to make his way back into the favourite-to-win-this-tournament group.

That being said, his draw this year is Shaun Murphy, a close friend of Selby so the first match won't be an easy one, by far. 

“I could not really have been given a harder first round,” he said. “He is one of the form players. We are really good friends, although that will go out the window for the game. I would rather have played someone else in the first round. I really wanted him to do well. "

Robbo has a tough opening match ahead of him
However, we all know that no matter what special bond ties these two great players, it's going to be forgotten when they enter the arena. Should be a good match, this one.

Neil Robertson will meet Robert Milkins in a match that will surely catch your eye, both of them having something at stake: on one side, Robbo would be delighted to add a more Masters to his collection (he won it back in 2012), and on the other side, Milking "has nothing to lose" (as Neil himself says) and will be giving his best. 

Joe Perry seems to be back from the woods (he prepared for this tournament by practicing with Selby and Maguire) and he's confident about the new year and the coming tournament.

The glassy trophy
"I am not sure what has changed, but I'm playing a lot better and I'm feeling more confident."

However, his first opponent is Ding Junhui, so "The Gentleman" of snooker has to put in quite the fight to overcome him.

But let's cut to the chase and roll on the Masters, shall we? The cue-crossing will start this Sunday from 1pm (UK time) with the likes of Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy taking the stage, followed by Stuart Bingham and Marco Fu from 7pm.

Below you can check the schedule for the first stage of the tournament:

Sunday (11.01)

Mark Selby v. Shaun Murphy
Stuart Bingham v. Marco Fu


Judd Trump v. Stephen Maguire
Neil Robertson v. Robert Milkins

Tuesday (13.01)

Ronnie O'Sullivan v. Ricky Walden
Barry Hawkins v. Ali Carter

Wednesday (14.01)

Mark Allen v. John Higgins
Ding Junhui v. Joe Perry

If you'll be watching The Masters on the telly, here's an useful link with the schedule.