The Masters Snooker

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  • Format
  • Prize Money
  • Venue
  • Records
  • Masters of the Masters
  • Further Reading

The Masters is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world of snooker and it’s produced some outstanding moments down the years. Beloved of anyone who follows the sport, this is one that anybody who’s ever stepped up to the baize wants to win. In this guide we’ll give you the lowdown on all you need to know about this great event.


The contest is held annually in London. It’s an invitational event with a limited number of participants. At its inception the tournament was fought out between just ten players, but in its current format 16 players take part. The players are invited according to their place in the world rankings, with the top 16 making the cut. From 1990-2010 wild card entries were also included, but this is no longer the case.

The tournament is a straightforward knockout affair. Players are drawn against each other, with the winners progressing into the next round until the last two are pitted against each other in the final. The decider is a best of 19 frames match, whilst every over match is the best of 11 frames.

The tournament was held in at the Wembley Conference Centre from 1979 up until 2012 when it moved to Alexandra Palace, following the demolition of the former venue.

Along with the UK Championship and the World Championship, The Masters forms one third of the Triple Crown. To date only two players have ever actually managed to win the Triple Crown. Steve Davis managed it in 1988 and Stephen Hendry did it in 1996.

Prize Money

Currently prize money is awarded based on performance, like so:

  • Winner: £200,000
  • Runner Up: £90,000
  • Semi-Finals: £50,000
  • Quarter-Finals: 25,000
  • Last Sixteen: 12,500

There is also an additional £10,000 prize on offer for the player who scores the highest break of the tournament.


The tournament is held at Alexandra Palace, a grand old building dating back to 1873 when it was built as the North London equivalent to the Crystal Palace in the south. It’s located near Wood Green and Muswell Hill and plays host to a number of different events of various natures throughout the year. It’s well worth a visit in its own right as one of the most attractive buildings in the capital.

You can reach Alexandra Palace by heading the Wood Green on the Piccadilly Line of the London Underground. From there it’s a short walk.


  • In the 2014 tournament Ronnie O’Sullivan scored 556 points without reply in his quarter final match against Ricky Walden. This spell of the match (which he won 6-0) was the most one sided in the history of the tournament. Some think it may well have been one of the best performances of all time, not just in snooker, but by any sportsman.
  • Stephen Hendry has won the tournament more times than anyone else. He’s picked up six titles, five of which were obtained consecutively from 1989-94.
  • Ronny O’Sullivan, the current champion, is second with five titles and could surpass Hendry’s record is he carries on his current form.
  • Ronny was also the youngest player to ever win a Masters when he bagged his first in 1995 aged 19.
  • Ronny O’Sullivan is also the record holder for final appearances having also been the runner up five times.
  • There have been two perfect breaks in the history of the competition, one by Kirk Stevens in 1984 and one by Ding Junhui in 2007.
  • Paul Hunter won the trophy three times between 2001-2004. The Paul Hunter Scholarship was set up in his memory after his death.
  • John Parrot has an the worst record of any finalist having been a runner up three times, but never managing a win.


Masters of the Masters

Stephen Hendry

The famous Scot dominated the sport from the late eighties all through the nineties and was still going strong well into the next decade. He’s won more ranking tournaments than any other snooker player (the Masters is not a ranking tournament). On top of this he’s made more century breaks than anyone else with 775. He’s the joint record holder for maximum breaks. He and Ronny O’Sullivan both have 11. He’s been awarded an MBE and was the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1997.

He’s renowned for having a very aggressive playing style and attempting to break open the reds early, making chances for a big break rather than playing it safe and waiting for things to open up. He also invented the tactic of potting the blue with a lot of bottom spin to bring the white back into the reds and break them up. Today this ploy is used by pretty much all players.

Ronny O’Sullivan

Ronnie is revered for the speed with which he can demolish a frame and is known as ‘The Rocket’. His career got off to a flying start and he won the UK championship when he was just 17. His speed at the table has seen him put away the fastest maximum ever scored in competitive snooker and he is the second highest earning player of all time. He’s a temperamental character, but is massively popular and has helped raise the profile of the sport with his showmanship.

Steve Davis

Steve Davis OBE is one of three players with three Masters titles to their name. He dominated snooker throughout the 80’s and became the first person to successfully complete the triple crown in 1988. With UK Championships, he is the most successful player in the tournament, and though the Masters was never quite so kind to him, it was the last major title he won, claiming it in 1997 at the age of 39.

Further Reading


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