Preview: Hong Kong Masters

Snooker returns for the elite with the Hong Kong Masters this week at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium on Thursday.

Hong Kong Masters PosterThe top eight players in the world rankings have been invited to contest a lucrative invitational event in the autonomous region.

Only Ding Junhui declined to take part, reportedly because his astronomical Chinese appearance fee proved too high for the promoters to fork out for.

In Ding’s place will be Ronnie O’Sullivan, so the organisers’ disappointment in the former’s absence will certainly have softened somewhat with the presence of the “Rocket”.

O’Sullivan meets old rival John Higgins in the last eight, which will be played over the best of nine frames before the format increases to eleven frames for the semi-finals and final.

World champion Mark Selby is set to make his return after a short period on the sidelines injured, with the world number one in action against Neil Robertson.

English duo Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy lock horns while Marco Fu, who will undoubtedly be the crowd favourite in front of his home support, faces Barry Hawkins.

Not much is otherwise known about this tournament, other than it’s obviously lucrative for attracting so many of the game’s leading stars.

Live coverage will be limited with only local channels set to broadcast the four-day outing, but interest appears high in Hong Kong as tickets sold out on the first day of sale last month.

Hong Kong is no stranger to staging snooker events, having previously hosted another invitational – the General Cup – intermittently between 2004 and 2015, as well as the ranking event Hong Kong Open in 1989.

Fu was a popular last winner of the General Cup and fans will be hoping he can prevail again against what is a stellar field.

Women’s world champion Ng On Yee will also perform in front of her home fans, with high-profile exhibitions against Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White set to take place on Sunday along with the final.

Click here to view the draw.

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