- Ronnie O’Sullivan is a six-time former Masters champion and has also been runner-up five times, but his form this season has been up and down. There have been flashes of brilliance but he has not won a title since last year’s Masters event.
- World No.1 Mark Selby beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-7 in a scintillating UK Championship final in December, having also demolished Ding Junhui 10-1 to win the International Championship. The ‘Jester from Leicester’ has also won three Masters titles, although he has not triumphed since 2013.
- Two-time Masters winner John Higgins has rolled back the years this season to win a couple of prestigious events, while the rest of the tournaments have been shared around. Ding Junhui, Liang Wenbo, Judd Trump and Marco Fu all have titles under their belt heading to Alexandra Palace.
The set-up of The Masters, featuring the world’s top 16, ensures there are no easy games, but there is usually one half of the draw that looks tougher than the other. This year the top half looks particularly tricky, with reigning champion Ronnie O’Sullivan set to start his campaign against the up-and-coming Liang Wenbo of China. Judd Trump also faces Marco Fu in perhaps the tie of the first round, while the in-form John Higgins is in the same segment.
There is a lot of quality in the bottom half, too, but it may be slightly easier to navigate a course to the final from here. Ding Junhui, a winner back in 2011, meets debutant and 16th seed Kyren Wilson in the first round and could be one to watch. He has the break-building prowess to overpower any opponent, especially in the longer-format matches of The Masters, and looks better value than anyone else in the bottom half at 10/1 with Sky Bet. An Each Way bet on Ding may be the best way to go, in case he runs up against an O’Sullivan or Trump at the top of their game in the final.
- Sports.net’s tip: Each Way on Ding Junhui to win The Masters - 10/1
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.