Snooker’s most prestigious invitation tournament takes place in January as the creme of the sport gather at the iconic Alexandra Palace for the 2015 Dafabet Masters, live on BBC Sport and British Eurosport.
Running from January 11-18, the 41st edition of the tournament for the world’s elite top 16 players has a history dating back to 1975 and a top prize of £200,000.
Last year’s event saw an incredible display from home-town favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan as he stormed to the title for a fifth time.
‘The Rocket’ blasted through to the final 12 months ago where he went on to beat Mark Selby 10-4 in the final, though the ‘Jester from Leicester’ got his revenge in a pulsating World Championship final at the Crucible a few months later.
This year’s Masters draw has produced some intriguing first-round match-ups, with the most notable of them seeing current world champion Mark Selby take on Shaun Murphy, a world champion himself back in 2005.
Newly-crowned UK Championship winner Ronnie O’Sullivan will take on Ricky Walden in his first round match on the third day of this year’s tournament.
They met in the quarter-final of last year’s edition where O’Sullivan produced one of snooker’s finest performances, winning 6-0 and scoring a record 556 unanswered points, with Walden scoring only 39 points himself throughout the entire match.
Walden, however, has enjoyed recent tournament success after claiming the International Championship with a 10-7 win over Mark Allen, and will be hoping to push O’Sullivan this time around.
But after his incredible victory in the recent UK Championship final, O’Sullivan is now focussed and primed to defend his Masters title at the famous Ally Pally, a venue which played host to the PDC World Darts Championship over Christmas and New Year.
The five-time world champion beat Judd Trump 10-9 in one of snooker’s all-time classic matches to win his fifth UK title and 15th Triple Crown event in all, having also made a stunning 147 maximum break during the tournament in York.
O’Sullivan revealed that the challenge of snooker’s next generation of players has forced him to adapt, but with the elite top 16 players only invited to the Masters, he will know the challenge to his crown will be hotly contested between the usual suspects, such as Selby, Trump, Neil Robertson and Ding Junhui.
Commenting on this year’s tournament, World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn said: “The Masters is one of sport’s truly magical events as it bring together the cream of snooker’s talent to compete for a coveted title.
“We have staged the tournament at Alexandra Palace since 2012 and it has proved an ideal location which is very popular for fans and players.
“Anyone planning to be there live must get their tickets booked now to make sure of their seats.”
Snooker fans are all set for eight days of glorious action at Alexandra Palace with BBC Sport and British Eurosport screening every shot and pot live from north London.
BBC Sport will televise all eight days of action from the 2015 Dafabet Masters from Alexandra Palace across BBC Two, BBC Red Button and Online.
Hazel Irvine and Jason Mohammad present the BBC’s coverage throughout tournament, including live afternoon and evening programming, nightly highlights and the late-night Snooker Extra shows.
BBC Red Button will screen live action of each evening session from Sunday to Wednesday starting at 7.00pm, plus continued coverage of two quarter-final matches on Thursday and Friday nights from 7.55pm.
Commentators and guests throughout the week include Steve Davis, Ken Doherty, Dennis Taylor, Stephen Hendry, John Parrott and John Virgo.
Online viewers can watch full live coverage from Alexandra Palace and BBC network TV’s output on PCs, laptops, mobiles and tablet devices via the BBC Sport website and app.
The BBC will continue to be the home of all three World Snooker ‘Crown Jewel events’ in the UK until at least 2017 following a deal signed in January 2013.
The corporation will continue to cover the World Championship, UK Championship and the Masters until at least the end of the 2016/17 season, and there is also the option to continue with one further event after 2014, ensuring the sport’s biggest events will remain on terrestrial television.
British Eurosport will also have live coverage from north London, including high-definition coverage of every session.
Eurosport’s commentary team includes Dave Hendon, Mike Hallett, Philip Studd and former world champion Joe Johnson, who commented: “Alexandra Palace is a great venue, it actually holds more people than the Crucible for the World Championships which gives it a fantastic atmosphere”
Fellow commentator Dave Hendon added: “Ronnie O’Sullivan, five times the winner, revels in this sort of environment and will be the man to beat again.
“Last year he set a new world record of 556 points without reply in his quarter-final against Ricky Walden and that’s the sort of form which makes him unbeatable.”
Live online streaming of British Eurosport’s coverage can be accessed via Eurosport Player (subscription required), plus there will also be additional reports and features via the British Eurosport website.
CLICK HERE for full details of British Eurosport’s TV schedule.
Sunday 11th January
DAY 1: First Round (Best of 11 frames) Mark Selby 5-6 Shaun Murphy LIVE: 12.50pm-5.00pm BBC Two / 5.00pm-6.00pm BBC Red Button
Stuart Bingham 3-6 Marco Fu LIVE: 7.00pm-11.00pm BBC Red Button Highlights: 11.45pm-12.35am BBC Two Snooker Extra: 12.435am-2.35am BBC Two
Monday 12th January DAY 2: First Round (Best of 11 frames) Judd Trump 4-6 Stephen Maguire
LIVE: 1.00pm-6.00pm BBC Two Neil Robertson 6-4 Robert Milkins LIVE: 7.00pm-11.00pm BBC Red Button Highlights: 11.20pm-12.10am BBC Two Snooker Extra: 12.10am-2.10am BBC Two
Tuesday 13th January DAY 3: First Round (Best of 11 frames) Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-4 Ricky Walden
LIVE: 1.00pm-6.00pm BBC Two Barry Hawkins 1-6 Ali Carter LIVE: 7.00pm-11.00pm BBC Red Button Highlights: 11.20pm-12.10am BBC Two Snooker Extra: 12.10am-2.10am BBC Two
Wednesday 14th January DAY 4: First Round (Best of 11 frames) Mark Allen 6-4 John Higgins LIVE: 1.00pm-5.55pm BBC Two Ding Junhui 3-6 Joe Perry LIVE: 7.00pm-11.00pm BBC Red Button Highlights: 11.20pm-12.10am BBC Two Snooker Extra: 12.10am-2.10am BBC Two
Thursday 15th January DAY 5: Quarter Finals (Best of 11 frames) Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-1 Marco Fu LIVE: 1.00pm-6.00pm BBC Two Ali Carter 1-6 Neil Robertson LIVE: 7.00pm-8.00pm BBC Two / 7.55pm-11.00pm BBC Red Button Highlights: 11.20pm-12.10am BBC Two Snooker Extra: 12.10am-2.10am BBC Two
Friday 16th January DAY 6: Quarter Finals (Best of 11 frames) Joe Perry 4-6 Mark Allen LIVE: 1.00pm-6.00pm BBC Two Stephen Maguire 4-6 Shaun Murphy LIVE: 7.00pm-8.00pm BBC Two / 7.55pm-11.00pm BBC Red Button Highlights: 11.35pm-12.25am BBC Two Snooker Extra: 12.25am-2.25am BBC Two
Saturday 17th January DAY 7: Semi Finals (Best of 11 frames) Ronnie O’Sullivan 1-6 Neil Robertson LIVE: 1.00pm-4.30pm BBC One / 4.30pm-5.30pm BBC Two Mark Allen 2-6 Shaun Murphy LIVE: 7.00pm-10.30pm BBC Two Snooker Extra: 12.05am-2.05am BBC Two
Sunday 18th January Dafabet Masters Final 2015 (Best of 19 frames) Neil Robertson v Shaun Murphy LIVE: 12.50pm-5.15pm & 7.00pm-11.00pm BBC Two