Few players in the first round of the Ladbrokes Mobile Masters played better than Mark King, who was superb in knocking out defending champion Mark Selby.

King was certainly more impressive than his quarter-final opponent, Jamie Cope, who won a poor encounter against a shockingly below par Shaun Murphy last night.

So King should start favourite against Cope on form and the Romford man knows this is one of the best chances he has ever had to win a major title.

But this has been a strange tournament, probably the strangest Masters there has ever been in terms of the form players going out.

Only Neil Robertson survives from the top eight seeds and there are no former winners left in.

Ding Junhui, though, is a twice UK champion and current world no.4 so has to now count as the favourite to come through the top half.

His opponent this afternoon, Graeme Dott, is releasing an autobiography in March detailing his battle with depression, the loss of his manager and, of course, his world title victory in 2006.

Can Dotty write another chapter at Wembley Arena? Well, he certainly played well in defeating John Higgins in the opening round, only his third ever match win in the Masters.

Dott has the game and the tenacity to send Ding packing if the Chinese fails to hit top form.

Finally a word on Stephen Hendry, who turns 42 today.

It is distinctly possible that he won’t be in the top 16 next year but, if he is still playing, I see no reason not to give him a wildcard.

Not only has he won the title more than anyone else but he is still a huge name whose presence in a tournament enhances it.

Jimmy White, who won the Masters once, got several Wembley wildcards so Hendry should be afforded the same respect in the twilight of his career.


Anonymous said...

im a hendry fan and i disagree about wild card for Stephen get in on merit or don't bother.

jamie brannon said...

I don't disagree with you Dave, but he said the event should be exclusively for the top sixteen and tend to agree with him.

However, due to his legendary record then he should be given a couple, although he doesn't enhance the event in quite the same way as Jimmy White who pulls in large crowds, which produce an electric atmosphere.

Anonymous said...

I thought they'd done away with the wildcards?

Anonymous said...

I heard the BBC deal is for less money Dave. Is this correct?

Ray said...

Watching the Murphy / Cope match last night I noticed that the thumb on Jamie's bridge hand is not tight against his forefinger. This must surely cause a loss of control of the cue. I've never seen a pro do this before - Dave, do you know if he has damaged his thumb because it is a big disadvantage to be cueing like this?

southerner said...

Stephen said himself that he doesn't think that there should be wildcards for The Masters. "It should be only the top sixteen."

So, presumably, if he was offered a wildcard, he wouldn't accept it.

He would look very hypocritical if he did!

Anonymous said...

Hendry would deserve a wildcard whenever he drops out of the top 16 - he is a true ambassador for the sport and has made his name on talent alone.

Anonymous said...

Tough one although have to say I prefer the idea of restricting entry to the top 16 especially given the increased fluidity of the rankings these days.

Dave - think this might have been asked before but is there any word on the Masters venue from next year? I believe the current deal with Wembley is up and BH has intimated that he's not entirely happy holding it there... what are the chances of it staying at Wembley or indeed in London?


Anonymous said...

jimmy adds nowt to an event this past 5 years.
you talk rubbish brannon

MaximumSnooker.com said...

If they were to have wildcards next year then maybe have a legends wildcard round? White v Hendry and Doherty v Davis with the winners to play the 15th and 16th ranked players? That would definately draw the crowds.

Betty Logan said...

With the utmost respect to Graeme Dott, who exactly is going to read his autobiography?? His "battle with depression" doesn't exactly make it sound like a page turner...

urindragon said...

hendry will remain in top 16, mark my words

Anonymous said...

I also trust Hendry to turn the ship around, thus staying in the top 16 a while longer.

But MaximumSnooker, I love your idea! Seriously, forward that thought to Barry Hearn. Now that I've heard it it's a no-brainer.

Janie Watkins said...

That's a nice idea Maximum - Legends wildcard round - probably pull in more spectators that the subsequent rounds!!

Anonymous said...

A legends wildcard round- now there's an idea!!


Anonymous said...

if wildcard rounds make the tournament longer that this one i doubt they will do it.

an extra day or 2 wont be cost efficient imho

Anonymous said...

I'm just home (I live in Golders Green) and I'd like to state forthwith that tonight's play was utter pish.

£15 to watch that crap. I took my 10 year old son and he was charged full price for entry.


Anonymous said...

The Masters wildcard round might well be a good idea but surely it should be restricted to previous winners.
This would exclude the likes of Ken Doherty but would add something quaint to the proceedings.
This is the case in Augusta where former golfing Masters either play in the event or tee off at the first in the case of elderly stars of the past.
If a non winner like crafty Ken are included it muddies the waters somewhat.
The idea would also allow Ronnie to play when he drops out of the 16 which will almost certainly happen within 2 years such is his appetite for destruction.

Betty Logan said...

To be honest, I think the decision to include a former world champion like Ken Doherty is perhaps more vindicated than including ex champs like Alan McManus and Matthew Stevens.

southerner said...

I will read Graeme's autobiography, Betty.

jamie brannon said...

Firstly, White draws the crowds, which is the primary function of a wildcard, in any sport.

People won't flock to Dott's autobiography, but doesn't mean that it won't be a fascinating read just because he is not of the sports most iconic names.

One of the best sports autobiographies I have read, was the one concerning the footballer Stan Collymore, which outlines in fascinating detail his battle with depression. Mental illnesses are very complex and thus provide a good depth of interest.

Anonymous said...

I just picked up on the earlier comment there, does Graeme Dott have a book out?

I was also wondering before about any other snooker stars who have autobiographies so to speak. I know Ronnie does and Jimmy has something out there, Willie Thorne, Alex Higgins but I've not seen much else other than that. Does Stephen Hendry or Steve Davis not have an autobiography does anyone know?

jamie brannon said...

Hendry had one out in 1991, or something. Also John Spencer had one.

Would like to see a few more, maybe John Virgo, who is the author of a new book about Alex Higgins.

Anonymous said...

id like to see one about you jamie.

the life and times of a wannabe journalist aged 16 1/4 (posting on a blog)


seriously, id like to read m. stevens story, or mjw