2005 Masters (snooker)
The 2005 Masters (called the 2005 Rileys Club Masters for sponsorship purposes) was the 2005 edition of the non-ranking Masters professional snooker tournament and it was held from 13 to 20 February 2005 at the Wembley Conference Centre in the British capital of London. It was the 31st staging of the tournament and the eighteen-player competition was the sixth of nine World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) main tour events in the 2004/2005 season. The tournament was broadcast in the United Kingdom on the BBC and by Eurosport in Europe.
|Dates||13–20 February 2005|
|Venue||Wembley Conference Centre|
|Organisation(s)||World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association|
|Total prize fund||£277,500|
|Highest break||141 Ding Junhui|
World Champion Ronnie O'Sullivan won the tournament, defeating 1999 winner John Higgins ten frames to three (10–3) in the final to claim his first tournament victory since 1995, and his second Masters title in his third appearance in the final. He became the sixth player in Masters history to win the tournament more than once. In the semi-finals Higgins beat Peter Ebdon 6–3 and O'Sullivan defeated Jimmy White 6–1. Ding Junhui made the tournament's highest break of 141 in his first round match against Ken Doherty. The Masters preceded the Irish Masters and followed the Malta Cup.
The Masters was first held in 1975 at the West Centre Hotel with the sport's top ten ranking players invited to participate. It moved to the New London Theatre the following year, before it resided at the Wembley Conference Centre in 1979 where all editions of the tournament had been held up to the 2005 tournament. It is part of snooker's Triple Crown events alongside the World Snooker Championship and the UK Championship, but it does not have official ranking status. The tournament was sponsored by Benson & Hedges until 2003 when the brand was required to end its association with the Masters due to restrictions on tobacco advertising in the United Kingdom.
The 2005 tournament, held between 13 to 20 February at the Wembley Conference Centre in London, was the sixth of nine World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) main tour events of the 2004/2005 season, following the Malta Cup and preceding the Irish Masters. Held in January, the Malta Cup was won by Stephen Hendry, who beat Graeme Dott nine frames to seven (9–7) in the final. The defending Masters champion was Paul Hunter, who overcame Ronnie O'Sullivan 10–9 in last year's final. Sponsored by the national sports member company Rileys Club for the first time, it had a total prize fund of £277,500, and the host broadcasters were the BBC and Eurosport. Hunter had a poor form since making the semi-finals of the Grand Prix tournament but said he was unworried, "I have been preparing for events in the same way and I'm not going to change my game. It's just one of those things at the moment and once I get a run of wins under my belt I'll be fine."
Format and wild-card roundEdit
Defending champion Hunter was the number 1 seed with World Champion O'Sullivan seeded 2. Places were allocated to the top 16 players in the world rankings. Players seeded 15 and 16 played in the wild-card round against the two wild-card selections, Stephen Maguire (ranked 24) and Ding Junhui (ranked 76). Maguire had won the UK Championship the previous November and was making his Masters debut. All matches were the best-of-11 frames until the final. Ding played seed 16 Marco Fu and won 6–4. Trailing 4–2 after Fu took the opening four frames with breaks of 100 and 57, Ding responded to win the next four frames with breaks of 50 and 77 in the seventh and eighth frames for the victory. Graeme Dott was 2–1 behind his fellow Scot Maguire when he clinched five of the next seven frames in which he made breaks of 98, 92, 83, 62 and 54 to win 6–4. It was Dott's first victory at the Wembley Conference Centre in his fourth Masters appearance.
In his first round match world number 13 and three-time Masters champion Steve Davis overhauled Hunter 6–5. Breaks of 70 and 82 put Davis into a 2–0 lead. The match went to a final frame decider that Davis led with a score of 58–0. He missed a routine red ball shot, and Hunter countered with a 46 break, only for him to miss a shot. A brief safety shot exchange ensued before Davis undercut the final red ball 12 ft (140 in) down the side cushion and into the top right-hand corner pocket. Davis then potted the coloured balls for the victory. Peter Ebdon took 1 hour and 45 minutes to whitewash David Gray 6–0 with breaks of 106, 96, 110, 69 and 96 as Gray failed to pot a single ball in the last three frames. After the match, Ebdon attributed the result to losing weight through physical activity. 2004 Players' Championship winner Jimmy White beat Matthew Stevens 6–5. Trailing 5–3 White needed two snookers and a clearance to get back into contention and he achieved this when Stevens narrowly missed a long-range red ball shot. White then compiled a break of 115 to force a final frame decider in which he outscored Stevens 88–0 to progress into the quarter-finals.
O'Sullivan began his match against Dott with a break of 64 and then made his 21st century break of the 2004/2005 season with a 130 in the second. Dott tied the match at 3–3 with a 41 clearance but this did not deter O'Sullivan who clinched the next three frames with breaks of 72 and 85 with a 51 clearance to win 6–3. 1999 Masters champion John Higgins faced fellow Scot Chris Small. Higgins won the opening four frames with 106, 60, 47 and 48 runs but Small prevented a whitewash by winning frame five. Higgins lost the chance of a maximum break in frame six when he missed the sixth black ball shot while on 65 points. Nevertheless, he won a disjointed frame seven and the game 6–1. At age 17 Ding safely became the youngest quarter-finals player in Masters history when he defeated 1997 world champion Ken Doherty (playing with an ear infection he contracted three days earlier) 6–1. Doherty won frame two as Ding took the first, third and fourth frames with the tournament's highest break (a 141 clearance) and further runs of 81 and 52. Doherty lost frame five after missing a black ball shot and a pink in the sixth. He did force a re-spotted black ball finish in frame seven that Ding won.
Two time Masters and world champion Mark Williams played 1994 tournament winner and world number 10 Alan McManus. The match began with McManus 2–1 ahead with breaks of 63 and 54. Williams achieved breaks of 67, 54, 116 and later compiled a 66 clearance from being 65 points behind McManus to win 6–3 after the latter missed a straightforward red ball shot during the eighth frame. In the last first round game Hendry was drawn to play world number 12 Stephen Lee. Hendry commanded the match from the beginning with breaks of 61, 78, 110 and 82 as he amassed an unchallenged 325 points en route to a 6–1 win and his 40th overall at the Masters. Hendry missed the chance of achieve the seventh maximum break of his career when attempting for his 13th black ball shot in frame five, he was out of position from a four-cushion positional shot and had no other option than to pot the blue ball. Lee stated afterwards that he was considering ending his snooker career if he could not improve his confidence and his playing ability.
In the opening quarter-final match, Ebdon defeated Davis 6–1. Despite some advanced tactical play on the table Ebdon opened out an early lead of 3–0 by producing breaks of 60, 62 and 78. Although Davis took a solitary frame, Ebdon continued to break-build with runs of 88, 68 and 66 to win the match. The victory enabled Ebdon to reach the semi-finals of the Masters for the first time in his career since the 1995 tournament. The second quarter-final match had Higgins play fellow Scot Hendry. Higgins built a 5–1 lead from breaks of 101, 62 and 59 as Hendry played poorly due to a lack of composure during this period. Hendry did compile a 108 century break in frame seven but Higgins won frame eight and the match 6–2. Hendry bemoaned his loss of form, "I don't know where that came from. You are going to have days when you don't play well. You would be a robot if you didn't but my head wasn't right and I played dreadfully." Higgins shared his opponent's view but accepted the match's outcome, "I'm just happy in my own mind to be playing better because if you are not happy within yourself you won't win, no matter who you are playing."
White overcame Williams to win 6–5. White had an 3–0 advantage, producing a break of 73, a 51 clearance and a 30 break in a disjointed third frame. Williams spoke to referee Paul Collier to suggest that the table's top cushion had too much bounce and White concurred. Both players agreed to have an early mid-session interval while table fitters took 25 minutes to correct the table's mechanics. Williams clinched the next three times with a trio of half-centuries to tie the match at 3–3. White and Williams shared the following four frames to force a final frame decider that White won. The WPBSA issued a statement that examination of the table confirmed that there was no change in playing conditions and stated it would investigate whether static in the arena affected it. O'Sullivan took 104 minutes to defeat Ding 6–2 and outscored him 444–43 in the final five frames. Trailing 2–1 O'Sullivan clinched the following five frames by compiling breaks of 77, 92, 123 and 67, saying afterwards, "With two players capable of scoring heavily there is always a danger of one of them running away with the game."
The semi-finals were held on 19 February. The first semi-final was between Ebdon and Higgins. The match began with Higgins starting strongly with breaks of 67 and 69 to lead 2–0. It appeared he would increase his lead by one frame in the third frame, but he missed a black ball and Ebdon produced a clearance to win the frame. Higgins took frame four and Ebdon achieved a 96 break to capture the fifth. Ebdon lost the disjointed 40 minute sixth frame to Higgins, who then secured frame seven after fluking a red ball midway through. A run of 79 from Ebdon put pressure on Higgins, but the latter clinched frame nine to win the match 6–3. After the game Higgins admitted he thought of his 6–5 loss to Dott in the semi-finals of the Malta Cup in January because he missed some important shots that provided Ebdon with opportunities, "What happened in Malta came back into my mind and put me under pressure. You rarely see great semi-finals because there's so much riding on the match. I needed a few chances but I'm delighted to get through to the final and pleased to be back playing to a decent standard."
In the other semi-final, O'Sullivan beat White (competing in a record-breaking 11th Masters semi-final) 6–1. O'Sullivan produced two consecutive breaks of 76 and 97 in the first three frames to hold a 3–0 advantage as White did not strike a single ball for 35 minutes. In frame four, White prevented O'Sullivan from whitewashing him with a run of 75. It was White's only response of the match as further breaks of 49, 36, 106, 41 and 36 in the next three frames meant O'Sullivan eliminated White from the tournament in 97 minutes. O'Sullivan said after the match that a free-flowing game was to be expected when playing White, "It was a bit like a derby match in football where there was one player doing well coming into the match and one not doing so well but where anything could happen amongst the excitement with all the adrenaline flowing." White admitted that he had been unable to challenge his opponent, "I had a couple of chances and didn't do anything with them. You can't do that against Ronnie. But it's been a great week and I've really enjoyed myself."
The match was both O'Sullivan's and Higgins' third appearance in a final at the Masters. In the best-of-19 frame final, held in front of 2,500 people, O'Sullivan defeated Higgins 10–3 for his second Masters title and his first since the 1995 tournament. He joined Cliff Thorburn, Alex Higgins, Hendry, Davis and Hunter as the sixth player to win the Masters more than once. It was his third title of the 2004/2005 season after winning Grand Prix in October and the Welsh Open in January. The victory earned O'Sullivan £125,000 and brought his season's cumulative total to £240,750. The media stated the match was the most dominant performance in a Masters final since the 1988 tournament match in which Davis whitewashed Mike Hallett 9–0. John Dee of The Daily Telegraph wrote of the match, "Never before has snooker reached the high standard which O'Sullivan displayed on the Wembley stage", and the reporter for the Irish Examiner called O'Sullivan's win "breathtaking".
In the afternoon session, O'Sullivan took the first frame with a break of 95, after jousting with Higgins in a safety shot battle for a quarter of an hour. Higgins followed with breaks of 54 and 76 in the second and third frames to go 2–1 ahead. Entering the mid-session interval, O'Sullivan equalled the score at 2–2 with a 107 break and he took the lead with a half-century run in the fifth frame. Higgins potted two balls as O'Sullivan produced runs of 58 and 97 in frames six and seven. Trailing 32–0 in the eighth frame, O'Sullivan missed a pink ball shot to the centre pocket, allowing Higgins to produce a 53 run, and leave O'Sullivan requiring two snookers after a four-point foul. Although O'Sullivan obtained the necessary points, Higgins won the frame on the blue ball to leave it 5–3 at the conclusion of the first session. In the evening session, O'Sullivan took 62 minutes to achieve three breaks of 79, one of 75 and a fifth of 134 to win the match and the tournament. O'Sullivan had a 97% of potting rate success to Higgins' 89% at the end of the final and he brought his total season century breaks to 25. This led 1991 world champion and BBC analyst John Parrott to liken the statistic to O'Sullivan's 17–4 victory over Hendry in the semi-finals of the 2004 World Snooker Championship, "It is a pleasure to watch. He played every shot in the book and each time the cue ball landed on a sixpence."
After his victory O'Sullivan said he was playing better than before, "I played good frames from start to finish. And to do it against a player of John's calibre makes it more satisfying. There's no better place than Wembley or Sheffield to produce your best and so this win is very satisfying." Higgins labelled O'Sullivan "a total genius" due to his high level of playing standard, "Somehow the rest of us have got to try and catch up. It was great to watch even though I was on the receiving end. I know some other top players can produce stuff like that but Ronnie was inch perfect every time."
|WC1||Marco Fu (15)||4–6||Ding Junhui|
|WC2||Graeme Dott (16)||6–4||Stephen Maguire|
Best of 11 frames
Best of 11 frames
Best of 11 frames
Best of 19 frames
|Final: Best of 19 frames. Referee: Paul Collier.|
Wembley Conference Centre, London, England, 20 February 2005.
|3–10||Ronnie O'Sullivan |
|Afternoon: 9–97 (95), 130–0 (54, 76), 61–7, 0–107 (107), 24–89 (58), 1–102 (97), 0–135 (102), 73–45 (53)|
Evening: 0–79 (79), 56–75 (56, 75), 0–79 (79), 1–88 (79), 0–134 (134)
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