Three former Masters winners and a former runner-up comprise a mouth-watering line-up at The 2020 Masters at Alexandra Palace on Tuesday.
The first Triple Crown event of the new decade has produced four upsets in as many matches so far, with all four favourites bowing out at the first hurdle across the opening two days of action.
A quartet of decorated stars kick off their campaigns at Ally Pally on Tuesday, including Judd Trump – who is bidding to become only the fifth player in the 45-year history of the tournament to successfully defend the title.
Trump claimed a dream triumph 12 months ago with victory over rival Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final before going on to win the World Championship a matter of months later to complete an illustrious career Triple Crown.
The world number one has enjoyed a sensational year of success and will look to underline his position as tournament favourite with a commanding win over 2015 champion Shaun Murphy.
Trump has made at least the Semi-Final stage of The Masters in three of his last four appearances and is yet to suffer defeat in the First Round of a televised tournament so far this season.
Murphy, meanwhile, completed his career Triple Crown here five years ago having fallen short in the 2012 final but has managed just one win in his four visits to Ally Pally since.
The number nine seed ended a two-year wait for a ranking title at the China Championship earlier this season but suffered a shock First Round exit at the hands of Eden Sharav in the UK Championship last month.
This will be the 18th competitive meeting between Trump and Murphy, with the reigning World Champion claiming ten victories to seven, including a 10-3 rout in the final of this season’s International Championship in China.
The evening’s encounter sees two-time Masters Champion John Higgins take on 2016 runner-up Barry Hawkins.
Higgins is looking to claim this prestigious title in a third different decade, having triumphed in 1999 and 2006, while also finishing runner-up in 1995 and 2005.
The number four seed, who has lost in the last three consecutive World Championship finals, has two ranking Semi-Finals to his name this season as well as a runner-up spot at the Six Reds Championship in Thailand.
Higgins’ incredible longevity is underlined by the fact he is making his 26th consecutive appearance in this elite competition and he will be determined to mount a title charge in the absence of a clutch of his key rivals.
Hawkins, meanwhile, is making his tenth appearance at The Masters since 2007, and is looking to regain his top form after a below-par season by his standards to date.
Hawkins has reached just one ranking Quarter-Final in seven attempts, though he did win the Paul Hunter Classic at the beginning of the season.
The Kent left-hander has lost seven of his ten previous clashes with Higgins, including the 2018 Welsh Open final, but did win their most recent encounter 6-5 in September’s Shanghai Masters.
The action gets underway from 1pm GMT, with First Round matches to be contested over the best of 11 frames.
Dafabet Masters 2020 Match Schedule
Tuesday January 14
Judd Trump v Shaun Murphy
John Higgins v Barry Hawkins