The Shanghai Masters is back on Monday after a four-year absence with Ronnie O’Sullivan among the stars in the draw.
Once a permanent fixture of the annual calendar, the tournament hasn’t been staged since 2019 because of the pandemic.
But with China opening itself up again to international visitors, the popular non-ranking event has been welcomed back to the schedule.
Prize, history, and format
The Shanghai Masters was launched in 2007, and for the first decade it boasted ranking event status.
Dominic Dale was a surprise inaugural champion, but the roll of honour thereafter included some of the biggest names in the sport.
The likes of Mark Selby, John Higgins, Ding Junhui, Stuart Bingham, and Kyren Wilson each got their hands on the trophy between 2011 and 2016.
Sandwiching those triumphs were successes in 2009 and 2017 for Ronnie O’Sullivan.
When the Shanghai Masters transitioned to a prestigious invitational tournament in 2018, the Rocket added another brace of titles.
Shanghai Masters Roll of Honour
2007: Dominic Dale
2008: Ricky Walden
2009: Ronnie O’Sullivan
2010: Ali Carter
2011: Mark Selby
2012 John Higgins
2013: Ding Junhui
2014: Stuart Bingham
2015: Kyren Wilson
2016: Ding Junhui
2017: Ronnie O’Sullivan
2018: Ronnie O’Sullivan
2019: Ronnie O’Sullivan
O’Sullivan will finally then get an opportunity to defend the crown he last won in 2019.
The world number one is the bookies favourite at 4/1 to triumph again in China, with these live betting sites offering deposit bonuses and free bets.
Judd Trump, who lost deciding-frame finals in 2012 and 2015, has odds of 6/1 with world champion Luca Brecel on 12/1.
With a total prize pot worth £825,000 and a whopping £210,000 being awarded to the champion, it’s unlikely that O’Sullivan will withdraw from this event like he has done the opening two of the 2023/24 campaign.
There are 24 players in total in the 2023 Shanghai Masters draw, with matches in the first three rounds lasting 11 frames.
Multi-session encounters will subsequently be required in the semi-finals (bo19) and the final (bo21).
2023 Shanghai Masters draw
Ronnie O’Sullivan is one of eight seeds who will receive byes through to the last 16 of the competition.
The others are world champion Luca Brecel, former winners Mark Selby and Kyren Wilson, and fellow top-eight ranked competitors Mark Allen, Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, and Shaun Murphy.
The other eight members from the top 16 in the world rankings (backdated) have been drawn to face four top-ranked Chinese cueists and four wildcards in the round of 24.
The wildcards are Deng Haohui, Dong Zihao, Gong Chenzhi, and emerging women’s star Bai Yulu.
The tournament runs from September 11th to September 17th at the Shanghai Grand Stage.
Schedule (times in BST)
Last 24 (bo11)
Ali Carter (11) 6-2 Dong Zihao
John Higgins (10) 6-0 Deng Haohui
Hossein Vafaei (16) 6-1 Gong Chenzhi
Jack Lisowski (13) 6-5 Zhou Yuelong
Gary Wilson (14) 2-6 Fan Zhengyi
Ding Junhui (15) 6-2 Si Jiahui
Robert Milkins (12) 6-1 Bai Yulu
Mark Williams (9) 6-1 Pang Junxu
Last 16 (bo11)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) 6-3 Ali Carter (11)
Kyren Wilson (8) 3-6 John Higgins (10)
Mark Selby (5) 6-5 Hossein Vafaei (16)
Judd Trump (4) 6-5 Jack Lisowski (13)
Mark Allen (3) 3-6 Fan Zhengyi
Neil Robertson (6) 6-5 Ding Junhui (15)
Shaun Murphy (7) 5-6 Robert Milkins (12)
Luca Brecel (2) 6-4 Mark Williams (9)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) 6-5 John Higgins (10)
Mark Selby (5) 6-1 Judd Trump (4)
Fan Zhengyi 1-6 Neil Robertson (6)
Robert Milkins (12) 3-6 Luca Brecel (2)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) 10-7 Mark Selby (5)
Neil Robertson (6) 7-10 Luca Brecel (2)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) 11-9 Luca Brecel (2)
How to watch the 2023 Shanghai Masters
Live coverage will be available across Europe on discovery+ and Eurosport.
Viewers in most other territories can watch the action via a subscription on Matchroom.Live.
However, there is more information available at the World Snooker Tour website on how to watch the Shanghai Masters this week from around the world.
Featured photo credit: WST