Mark Selby, the defending champion, is a big favourite to beat Mark King in the first round of the Ladbrokes Mobile Masters today, just as he was in the opening round of the 2008 World Championship when King beat him 10-8.
King’s continued presence in the top 16 proves that snooker is not just about scoring. It is also about getting stuck in for a scrap, as Mark Williams demonstrated at the UK Championship last month.
Selby has made 35 centuries in all tournaments this season; King has contributed just three.
But where King does excel is in frames where balls are on cushions and colours off their spots.
He’s a street-fighting snooker player: determined, pugnacious and fiercely competitive.
Witness his defeat of Ricky Walden in the deciding frame of their match in the 2009 Grand Prix, in which he needed three snookers on the brown.
Selby, though, is – to understate things a tad – at home at Wembley Arena.
From three appearances he has won the title twice and been runner-up on the other occasion.
Certain players have tournaments they always seem to do well in and this is Selby’s. It would be a shock if he lost this afternoon.
Peter Ebdon has never beaten Ali Carter in a match of any significance and the 2002 world champion, now 40, struggles for consistency these days.
In 17 previous Wembley appearances Ebdon has only appeared in two Masters semi-finals, a surprisingly low return.
I guess certain players also have tournaments in which they don’t do so well, the Masters for Ebdon being a case in point.
Carter, having won two ranking titles, will be targeting the sport’s ‘majors’ and his past record over Ebdon will make him confident when they clash tonight.
It will probably come down to whether Ebdon can publish any mistakes and make those clearances you need to make in matches of this profile.
The Masters began in 1975 and has a rich history. More chapters will be written this week – let’s hope the tournament matches up to its status.