Ronnie O’Sullivan launches his quest for an eighth Masters crown against Luca Brecel at the Alexandra Palace on Monday.
The seven-time champion is the most successful player in the history of snooker’s most prestigious invitational event, while he also leads the way in final appearances (13), centuries (80) and matches played (77).
Also the winner of just under £2million at the Masters, the Rocket will certainly enjoy raucous support at the Ally Pally once again as he prepares for his 28th appearance – a tally only bettered by John Higgins (29).
Although, O’Sullivan has only advanced beyond the quarter-finals once in four attempts since landing his seventh crown in 2017, losing 10-4 to Judd Trump in the final two years later.
Nevertheless, he arrives seeking his third silverware of the season, with his other triumphs also coming at invitational events in the Hong Kong Masters and Champion of Champions.
The world number one has prevailed from 23 of his 26 previous last-16 encounters at the Masters, and his 27th promises to be an exciting one against fellow attacking player Brecel.
Another of this season’s tournament winners, the Belgian lifted the Championship League at the start of the campaign, while he was runner-up to Mark Selby at the English Open before Christmas.
Brecel has only won one of his three previous Masters contests, albeit he defeated reigning champion Mark Allen on the opening day of the 2019 event.
And though only a victor once in three meetings with O’Sullivan, his sole success – a narrow 5-4 win in the 2017 China Championship quarter-finals – came on the way to landing his maiden ranking title, and he will hope that serves as a good omen five-and-a-half years later.
The winner of this match will play either Mark Williams or David Gilbert in the Masters quarter-finals.
Play gets underway at 1pm GMT on Monday and will be contested over the best of 11 frames at the Alexandra Palace.
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