2014 Dafabet Masters Final!


(Photo by Monique Limbos.)

This time last week the first round began and today we looked forward to the final a best of 19 two session affair between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Selby. There’s been mutterings for a few days about these two as a dream end to this year’s Masters and it has come to pass. This is Mark and Ronnie’s 3rd Final in this event and one of many memorable encounters between the pair. Whilst most rivalries are strictly on the baize only, this one does seem to seep off it too, maybe not so much on Mark’s side but certainly from Ronnie who last night called him a ‘torturer but that’s a compliment!’ Apparently this is from his new book ‘Running’, to me it seems Ronnie is running into some rocky ground, as that little gem, certainly seems like a thinly veiled insult. It is also his entry for this tournament’s Fyeahsnooker’s feature of ‘How can Ronnie cause a stir (without being here) admittedly it’s lost it’s shine with the fact he’s actually playing in some events at the moment.

What I do know is, this’ll be a cracking match either way so make sure you’re in front of your tellies at 1.30pm british time to watch the action unfold. 

I’m going to leave the speculation about the chances of these two players there, for many reasons not least so I can do a little acrostic review of this year’s Masters.

Miraculous comebacks: Certainly a theme of the start of the week, and maybe I’m pushing it with miraculous but I’ll claim artistic license. I don’t know what players were doing in the MSI but after it the one ahead seemed to stumble. Mark Davis came back to 5-5 from 4-0, Joe Perry went 5-1 down and managed to reduce his deficits to 6-4. Ricky Walden 5-2 down against Barry Hawkins. Selby going 3-1 up to 5-3 behind against John Higgins, just to name some!

A power cut: Yes, yes, okay, that was shocking, but so was the lack of light at Ally Pally on Tuesday afternoon when Shaun Murphy played Ding Junhui: video here.

Shot of the tournament: 


Mark Selby. John Higgins. Final frame decider. Fiendish snooker. Enough said.

Temperature: Some like it hot, some like it cold. Yes I am talking about the temperature affecting the way the table played. On Wednesday Neil Robertson commented how hot it was in the arena and balls were rolling left to right. He and Mark Allen even went as far as to have the cue ball changed, because they thought it was too light, unfortunately they still missed shots after that. The very next day Shaun mentioned how cold the arena was and that it was giving him some trouble at the table. Can anyone agree? As @TheGreenBaize remarked on twitter ‘it’s the goldilocks effect.’ Quite. 

Earpieces: ‘Ear, ‘ear. Well not for all of the audience on the first day which had more first day problems and carelessness than is probably polite. Yes this is for the great upheaval in which all the black sponsor earpieces had to be replaced with world snooker red ones due to technical difficulties. And I thought everyone would be happy they wouldn’t have to listen to Den.

Rob Walker. He’s not done anything particularly special, but I’d just like to mention him for being a good MC. I was unsure about him in past years, but he really does have a good sense of humour and fun and is great at working the crowd. As you would expect. So yes, this one’s for you Rob. And may you continue to ‘get the boys on the baize’ for many tournaments to come.

Superman Shaun Murphy. Yes the Magician has transformed his look complete with a change in walk-on music to the famous ‘man of steel’ theme tune. Though he progressed to the Semi Finals, Mark Selby proved to be his kryptonite. Steve Davis even tried to get the crowd to assume the flying pose as the players walked in. Someone commented ‘only if you do Steve’ to which he replied ‘I have to remain unbaised.’ Fair enough Steve. On another note, Shaun seemed really disheartened in his post match interview yesterday and hinted that he might be finished in snooker. I’d just like to repeat my tweet that: this is sad news, and in fact I think Shaun has lots more to give and hopefully things will seem much better today. 

So there you have it folks. This year’s Masters almost sewn up. All that remains now is to crown the champion. Best of luck to both Mark and Ronnie.

Happy snookering!

2014 Dafabet Semi Final 1 - Mark Selby V Shaun Murphy. (Photos by Monique Limbos.)

2014 Dafabet Masters Semi Finals!

Let me hear a cheer - It’s Semi Finals day! Where’s Rob Walker and the Ally Pally crowd, when you need them, eh? I say this after watching the start of last night’s coverage, talk about putting a camera in front of crowd! But in fairness, if you’ve going to have your 10 seconds of fame you may as well make the most of it!

(Photo by Monique Limbos.)

Without further ado, let’s look ahead to today’s action:

Mark Selby V Shaun Murphy.
It could be said both these players are lucky to be here, as they both overcame deficits to win their Quarter Final matches. Shaun went 4-1 down to Marco Fu, and Mark let a 3-1 lead slip to 3-5 behind, in what turned out (as predicted) to be a late night thriller on Thursday against John Higgins. 
It has been a bit of a theme this week: players establishing a lead but not being able to close out the match resulting in several comebacks. Or as said on twitter there has been ‘a severe lack of conkers.’ 
Not many things are certain, but if recent trends are to be believed surely this match will have a Selby comeback. He’s commented himself that it is when he is down and out that he gets confidence, which has led some to wonder if he deserves the title of ‘the worst front runner in snooker, ever.’ 
This is Shaun’s 3rd consecutive semi final, and he hasn’t beaten Selby in a major event since the 2012 Quarter Final in this event. But that means nothing. Well sort of. All I’ve got running through my mind is ‘Selby comeback’ which is grossly unfair to Shaun. He seemed in great spirits in his BBC interview after his match with Marco, and is viewing all these matches now as a bonus as he believed he shouldn’t have won against Ding in the first round. Will this belief take the pressure off and allow him to produce some good snooker and take the match.
Who will win?
As a Selbs fan, I don’t want to put the prediction curse of death on him, so I’m going to say 6-5  (because both his matches so far this week had that scoreline) to Shaun.

Ronnie O’Sullivan V Stephen Maguire
One exception to the ‘chuck away a lead’ trend was our dear old Ron. His performance against Ricky Walden yesterday had everyone all het up. And why not? I might not be a die hard fan (comes with the Selbs fan territory I suppose) but he truly is one of the greats, a genius that produces epic snooker. Just to coin a few of the honours bestowed up him. His disposal of Ricky was brutal: a 6-0 whitewash in 58 minutes, and he set a new record of most points without a reply : 556. Poor old Ricky had a 39 in the first frame and didn’t have a sniff of a pot after. He’d break off and then Ron would whack a long pot in and the frame was virtually over. On this form, he looks dangerous and on going on the standard of last night’s battle between Neil Robertson and Stephen Maguire (whose first frame was only 10 minutes short of Ron and Rick’s whole match) he might not have too much resistance getting into the Final. 
That said, Mags showed great form in his first round match, and came through scorelinewise comfortably against an underpar Neil Robertson - 6-2. Can he get himself suitably riled up against the rocket? Admittedly he’s only beaten Ronnie 4 times in 18 meetings, but the fact he’s beaten him at all stands him good stead. 
Who will win?
I know today is another day, but I can’t not say Ronnie, scoreline: 6-3.

Day 6 2014 Dafabet Masters - Neil Robertson V Stephen Maguire. (Photos by Monique Limbos.)

Day 6 2014 Dafabet Masters - Ronnie O’Sullivan V Ricky Walden. (Photos by Monique Limbos.)

Day 5 2014 Dafabet Masters - Mark Selby V John Higgins. (Photo by Monique Limbos.)


Rough & finish of Shaun Murphy, snooker pro for Sports Wk magazine 16/01/14

Day 5 2014 Dafabet Masters - Shaun Murphy V Marco Fu. (Photos by Monique Limbos.)

Day 4 2014 Dafabet Masters - Barry Hawkins V Ricky Walden. (Photos by Monique Limbos.)

Day 4 2014 Dafabet Masters - Neil Robertson V Mark Allen. (Photos by Monique Limbos.)