The Masters of 2008 draws to a close today in Wembley Arena, in London. The Masters is unique in that only the top 16 are able to enter, along with the winner of a qualifying tournament, and a wildcard. Despite being a non-ranking event, it is the second richest purse in snooker, and probably third in terms of prestige.
The Provisional World Number 1 and Number 2, Ronnie O'Sullivan and Stephen Maguire met on the opening day. They had played in the 2007 UK Championship Final just four weeks beforehand, with O'Sullivan outclassing his opponent 10-2. This time though, Maguire had the last laugh. O'Sullivan missed an easy blue to seal the match in the final frame, and Maguire cleared up to win 6-5. Other impressive games saw Mark Selby, provisional World Number 5, beat Stephen Hendry, a 7-time World Champion in the 1990s, 6-5, after trailing 5-4. Graeme Dott, the 2006 World Champion, lost 6-5 to Stephen Lee, despite leading 5-2. The World Champion of 2007, John Higgins also lost, 6-4 to Ding Junhui. Marco Fu was the wilcards as the winner of the 2007 Grand Prix. Neil Robertson won two ranking events last season, and the two played another match that went to the final frame. It was Fu that progressed, 6-5.
The Quarter Finals saw Maguire up against Selby. Maguire stormed into a 5-3 lead, but once again Selby recovered, and won 6-5. Ken Doherty and Shaun Murphy played another wonderful match that evening. Murphy was on top completely, and led 4-1. He seemed to be coasting, but Doherty recovered. He soon took the lead at 5-4, before Murphy levelled at 5-5. Doherty made a century break in the final frame, in fact his third in four frames, and went through to the Semis with a 6-5 win. Peter Ebdon was not his usual self, and was blown away 6-1 by Stephen Lee. Fu beat his Chinese opponent Ding in the other quarter final, by 6 frames to 3.
The Semi Finals yesterday saw Mark Selby and Ken Doherty neck and neck all the way. The match reached 5-5. Doherty went for a tough plant, but missed, and let Selby in. He potted a long green from the bottom cushion that went on to win him the match, 6-5. Stephen Lee played another opponent who struggled, beating Fu 6-2.
Today, the Final takes place between Mark Selby and Stephen Lee.
Tale of the Tape
|Mark Selby||Stephen Lee|
|0||Ranking Event Victories||4|
|£377,425||Career Prize Money||£1,568,110|
On recent form, you'd have to think that Selby was the favourite today. He's been the better player this season, and in this event he has come through three 6-5 encounters already. That should favour him if it goes close. Selby however, has never won a ranking event. Although this is non-ranking, Lee will still be used to coming out on top in this sort of pressure environment. However, Selby has played in a finals before, he was runner-up to Higgins in the 2007 World Championship, but he has never won one. This may play on his mind as he gets near the winning post.
I think Selby will have the ability to take the match today. He is the better player, and deserves to win an event of this prestige.