The Masters returns for its 47th edition and the best are set to go head-to-head at Alexandra Palace. This year’s winner will take home a juicy £250,000, with Judd Trump looking to defend his title, while the absence of seven-time winner Ronnie O’Sullivan makes for a very interesting-looking event. Here is our preview of the elite 16-player event.

Judd can Trump his rivals again

It comes as no surprise that Judd Trump is the favourite to retain his title at 9/4. The world number one will face Shaun Murphy in his first round match, who himself endured a torrid year, stating that it was the worst run of his professional career. He’ll be looking to cause an early upset which would shake things up. Trump comes into the tournament off the back of a successful 2019 which saw him win five times. The 30-year-old looks the most solid contender and if continuing his 2019 form, he’ll take all the beating. He is just 8/11 to win his quarter, while he’s 11/8 to reach the final for a second consecutive year.

Former champion Robertson hoping for a revival

Neil Robertson, the number three seed, comes in as the 4/1 second favourite. He didn’t enjoy a stellar 2019 campaign, though his performance in the Champion of Champions was much more like the Robertson we have come to expect. Beating O’Sullivan 6-5 in the semi-finals and then outlasting Trump 10-9 in a spectacular game showed just how good the Australian can be. If he carries that form into this competition he should be there or thereabouts. He has form in the tournament too, having won it in 2012 and being a beaten finalist in both 2013 and 2015. He faces Stephen Maguire in the first round.

Selby looks best of the rest

Three-time world champion Mark Selby is another who has the game to contend here. The 36-year-old is known for his relentless safety play to the extent O’Sullivan once dubbed him ‘the torturer’!  He hasn’t been at his best in recent times, though he did still manage to win twice in 2019 at both the English Open and Scottish Open. He blows very hot and cold and his results back that up with a number of early exits mixed in with plenty of appearances in the latter stages of tournaments. At the top of his game, Selby is one of the best in the sport and could be a bit of a sneaker pick at 13/2 if he can recapture his old form.

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