The 2018 Dafabet Masters will run from January 14 to 21 at London’s famous Alexandra Palace. The box office opened and certain sessions are already close to selling out at the 2,000 seater arena.
It is the second longest-running snooker tournament outside of the World Championship. The Masters and the World Championship alongside the UK Championship make up what is known as the Triple Crown events, the three most prestigious tournaments in the snooker circuit.
The first Masters tournament was held in 1975 and only 10 players were invited to compete, a number that increased to 16 from 1984 onwards. Since 1990 several wild-card players have been introduced, although in some years they have been removed from the games.
Although the Masters is not a ranking event, it is regarded as one of the most notable competitions.
The 2017 edition of the tournament at Alexandra Palace drew an elite field of the world’s top 16 players, and has produced some sensational snooker from the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, Marco Fu and Ding Junhui. Ronnie O’Sullivan took the title for a record seventh time by beating Joe Perry 10-7 in the final. Records for ticket sales were smashed as fans witnessed one of the sport’s Triple Crown events unfold.
Ronnie joins another crystal triangle to the titles of the 1995, 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2014 events. And it guarantees presence in the 2018 Masters: the proof is reserved for the top 15 ranking (for which no score), plus the champion of the previous edition. The 2017 Masters gave 600,000 pounds (693,417 euros) in prizes: champion Ronnie O'Sullivan added 200,000 pounds (231,139 euros) to the bank account, while Joe Perry, the runner-up finisher, pocketed 90,000 pounds (104,013 euros).
The tickets are available since early January 2017. A spokesman for World Snooker said: “This time we decided to get tickets on sale as early as possible and we have been overwhelmed by the response from fans over the past few days. The Dafabet Masters is a hugely prestigious tournament and since it moved to Alexandra Palace in 2012 it has grown year on year. This year the standard was higher than ever and there were so many dramatic matches. It is such a unique thrill to watch top level snooker live and fans who manage to secure tickets have a wonderful event to look forward to.”
“The Dafabet Masters is one of our Triple Crown events and it is growing year after year. Over the past two years we have increased the capacity of the arena to 2,000 and many sessions are selling out well in advance of the tournament. This year we set new records for ticket sales which proves that the appetite of fans to see snooker live is building each year.
“That’s why we decided to get tickets for the 2018 tournament on sale as soon as possible. The 2018 Masters might seems a long way off but seats will sell rapidly so supports must book now and then look forward to enjoying the thrill of live snooker.”
The UK viewers will still enjoy the best quality of snooker as the World Championship, UK Championship and Masters will remain on terrestrial television for the next three seasons, after snooker's BBC deal was extended. Barry Hearn said: "We're now guaranteed on air until 2019 and I fancy quite a few more years after that."