The Masters is the quintessential non-ranking professional snooker tournament (and one of the most prestigious in the entire professional circuit) that has been held annually since 1975, making it the second oldest tournament after the World Championship and together with it and the UK Championship they make up the famous Triple Crown.
The tournament started as an invitational event for the first 10 ranking players, expanding to 12 in 1981 already 16 competitors in 1983; since 1984 the players invited to play it are the 16 best players in the world ranking.
Throughout the history of the tournament 24 players have managed to lift the trophy, as you can see below:
Ronnie O'Sullivan first title in 1995 and last in 2017
In 1995 The Rocket began its journey in the Masters, at the Wembley Conference Center in London, playing against his compatriot John Parrot, the one who beat the decider by 5-4; in the quarterfinals he met another veteran player, Welsh Terry Griffiths, who won by a comfortable 5-2; in his semifinal he faced Peter Ebdon, in a match in which he had to fight hard and ended up winning by 6-4; in the Final he played against the Scotsman John Higgins, who came from winning in a resounding way to the White Whirlwind in the semifinals (6-1), so everything indicated that there would be a final more than exciting. But nevertheless, to everyone's surprise, O'Sullivan placed a blunt 9 a 3 to lift his first Masters title and take the 120.000 pounds of award.
Ten years later, Ronnie O'Sullivan returned to London's Wembley Conference Center as a favorite after being world champion the previous season. In his first game he got rid of Scotsman Graeme Dott by a score of 6-3; in the next round he comfortably beat a very young Ding Junhui by 6-2; the semi-final was an English derby between El Rohete and Jimmy “Whirlwind” White, which he won by a strong score of 6-1.
Once again O'Sullivan reached a Masters final with Scotsman John Higgins; a Higgins who had a path to the final more than brilliant. In the round of 16 he beat his compatriot Chris Small by a forceful 6-1; in the quarterfinals he again faced another compatriot, the great Stephen Hendry, which he got rid of for a comfortable 6-2. Higgins was launched towards the final. In the semifinals he defeated Peter Ebdon by 6-3.
The Rocket and Higgins reached the final in optimal form for both. In the first session Ronnie left with a slight advantage on the scoreboard (5-3) and everything indicated that there would be a very exciting second and final session. But O'Sullivan came out determined not to give Higgins any options and consecutively won the five frames he needed to lift his second title and take the 125.000 pounds.
In 2007, at Wembley Arena in London, Ronnie O'Sullivan was starting his way to what would be his third Masters title. In the round of 16 he got rid of English Ali Carter for a comfortable 6-1; In the quarterfinals we experienced a tough battle with Irishman Ken Doherty in a match that was more than exciting and, of course, it was decided in the decider.
Ronnie O’Sullivan, after the tough quarterfinal battle, he saw the faces with the Scotsman Stephen Maguire in the semifinals, in a game that was expected to be difficult for El Rohete, given the good moment of form of his rival. O'Sullivan managed to get into the final, after beating Maguire by a tight score of 6-4.
His rival in the final was the fashionable Asian player, Chinese Ding Junhui, who sneaked into the final defeating the English Peter Ebdon (in eighth) and Stephen Lee (quartered) and Scottish Stephen Hendry (in the semifinals). The three games he won in a more than comfortable way, fact that predicted a very tough final for El Rohete, because of the path that both players took to the final.
In the final both players started with great respect towards their respective rival. The first session ended with a favorable score for O'Sullivan of 5-3. In the second session El Rohete came out ready to get his third Masters on the fast track, just as he had done with John Higgins in 2.005, taking the first five frames of the session. In this way Ronnie O’Sullivan achieved his third title in the tournament and 130.000 pounds.
Two years later Ronnie returned to Wembley Arena in London. In the second round he suffered, and a lot, with his compatriot Joe “The Gentleman” Perry, who finally beat the decider by 6-5; O'Sullivan didn't want any surprises because of his first-round hardship and got rid of Ali Carter and Stephen Maguire with great ease., accessing the final with the Englishman Mark Selby.
In the end sparks flew, with Rocket comeback included, since Selby came to enjoy a 7-5 in favor to end with a 10-8 in favor of O'Sullivan, doing well with the 150.000 prize pounds and his fourth Masters title.
Five years had to pass until we saw Ronnie lift the trophy again, this time at Alexandra Palace in London. In the edition of 2014 was the top favorite, since he had just won two World Champion titles in a row, and this was demonstrated throughout the tournament. In the round of 16 he got rid of his compatriot Robert Milkins for a comfortable 6-1; in the quarterfinals O'Sullivan achieved a professional match record: I note 556 consecutive points in his game against Ricky Walden, to place a blunt 6-0 on the scoreboard.
In the semifinals he beat the Scotsman Stephen Maguire by a comfortable score of 6-2. Ronnie was on his way to his fifth Masters, something that could only prevent him, English Mark Selby.
Ronnie marked distances from the start, managing to end the first session with a categorical 7-1. In the second session El Rohete came out very concentrated, aware of the high level of play of his rival, who could not do anything against a Ronnie who made history again by winning the final by 10-4. In this way he raised his fifth Masters title nineteen years after achieving the first and took the 200.000 pounds of award.
We arrived to 2016, on the same stage, Alexandra Palace, London, with a first game of the Rocket that was expected to be more than complicated against the Welshman Mark J. Williams. The party did not disappoint, reaching the decider who played very seriously O'Sullivan, achieving victory and qualification for the quarterfinals; in rooms the number one in the world was waiting for him, Leicester English, Mark Selby. Selby tried, but The Rocket was launched to equal Stephen Hendry's record with six Masters titles and beat Selby by a comfortable 6-3. Ronnie was not enough to get rid of the number one in the world that also made it of number two, and current world champion, Stuart Bingham for the same score (6-3).
O'Sullivan reached the final with the surprising Barry Hawkins, that in six participations in the tournament he had never passed the first round. The final started with the uncertainty of whether Hawkins would hold the pressure against the Rocket. The first frame fell on the left-handed player's side, which did not impress Ronnie O'Sullivan, Well he did a new feat when he managed to win 10 frames consecutively to make more history, if it fits, and match Hendry with six Masters titles and win the 200.000 pounds.
Final Masters 2017
Seventh title for Ronnie O'Sullivan.