Mark Selby admits he “can’t wait to get back” to playing in front a full-capacity crowd in what will be the 10th staging of the Masters at Alexandra Palace.
The Jester launches his quest for a fourth crown against Stephen Maguire on Tuesday, having lifted the trophy in 2008, 2010 and 2013.
And the reigning World champion is excited to be returning to N22 after last year’s tournament was staged behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the Wembley Conference Centre (1975 to 2006) and Wembley Arena (2007 to 2011), Alexandra Palace has been home to snooker’s most prestigious invitational event since 2012.
And it has quickly become one of the most popular venues on the calendar, with the one-table arena generating arguably the best atmosphere with 2,000 raucous spectators.
“Last year, we played in Milton Keynes behind closed doors, which was great because we could still play when a lot of sports weren’t being played,” Selby told livesnooker.com.
“But at the same time, playing there with no crowd at a tournament as big as that was difficult, so it’ll be good to go back to Ally Pally with a full crowd.
“With a tournament as big and prestigious as the Masters, it needs a home and I think it’s got that now with Ally Pally.”
Recent years have also seen the introduction of corporate seating and VIP areas; features that the world number one believes have helped further enhance the unique identity of the tournament.
“Having the corporate box and even the VIP seating makes the tournament a little bit extra special than some of the others and puts it on a different platform, which it should be because it’s one of the Triple Crown events,” he explained.
“Going there, you know that you’re in the pinnacle tournament of the tour. It’s a fantastic occasion and I can’t wait to get back there.
“It’s a one-table setup, so every match feels like a final, playing in front of nearly 2,000 fans. What better occasion to be a snooker player?”
A four-time World champion and two-time UK champion, Selby is targeting a 10th Triple Crown title this week.
Should he go all the way, the Jester would become only the fourth player to reach double figures after Ronnie O’Sullivan, Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis.
And the 38-year-old is hopeful to add more such events to his glittering CV in the near future.
“My goals for the next few seasons are to try and win a few more Triple Crown events if possible,” he added.
“All you can do is try because you’ve got no divine right to win any of them. They’re such tough tournaments to win.
“I didn’t think I’d win this many so now I have, I want to try to win them again.
“You know how they feel when you do win them; it’s a great feeling to win these big tournaments.”