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Snooker: Hong Kong Masters preview

Six of snooker's top stars are joined by two local heroes for the Hong Kong Masters, as the event is staged for the first time since 2017.

Ronnie O'Sullivan, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, Judd Trump, Zhao Xintong and John Higgins head a field that is competed by Marco Fu and Ng On-yee.

The quarter finals will be played over the best-of-nine-frames, with the semi-finals and final a race to six at the Hong Kong Coliseum.

It's a fixed draw and the opening round of matches have already been pulled out of the hat and we take a look at how things shape up in Hong Kong.

What

Hong Kong Masters

Where

Hong Kong Coliseum

When

Thursday 6th October - Sunday 9th October 2022

How to watch

Eurosport, discovery+

Odds

Ronnie O'Sullivan 2/1, Neil Robertson 4/1, Judd Trump 9/2, Mark Selby 9/2, John Higgins 9/1 

Drawing conclusions

O'Sullivan gets his bid under way against home hero and three-time world women's snooker champion On-yee.

The 31-year-old was recently seen partnering Trump in the World Mixed Doubles event and that should prove useful experience for the former women’s number one ranked player.

Robertson and Zhao do battle in the other quarter-final in the top half of the draw and that is likely to be a high-class affair.

In the bottom half Trump and Higgins get it on in a repeat of the 2019 World Championship final. The Ace ran out an 18-9 winner in one of the greatest days of his career and the Bristol cueman will be hoping to repeat the trick here.

Four-time world champion Selby, who has been mixing it on the pool table in recent months, faces another home hero in Fu in round one.

British Open clues

The British Open got the new snooker season start and it was the first real chance to see what sort of form snooker's top potters were in.

O'Sullivan was beaten by Alexander Ursenbacher in their held-over British Open qualifier and that doesn't inspire confidence going into this event.

Of course, the Rocket is capable of blowing anyone away on his day, but it would have been preferable to have seen some form in Leicester.

Higgins was another player to suffer an early exit in the season curtain-raiser, as the Scot was sent packing by Yuan Sijun in the first round proper.

Trump fared a little better, only going down in a decider to eventual finalist Mark Allen, at the last-16 stage.

Selby made a 147-maximum break during his run to the quarter-finals in Leicester and Zhao made a cluster of big breaks in his victory over former world champion Stuart Bingham.

Robertson declined to enter the event and it's therefore tricky to know how the Aussie is cueing, but the Thunder from Down Under was part of the victorious World Mixed Doubles team.

Fu has been plagued by eye-sight issues in recent years and the Hong Kong hero failed to qualify for the British Open.

The 44-year-old is a former World Championship runner-up and a three-time ranking event winner and it would be nice to see Fu return to something like his best on home soil.

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What can we expect from the home challenge?

It's difficult to expect too much from Fu at this stage of his career. The 44-year-old has only just returned to competing on the main tour and it’s going to take time for the Hong Kong hero to find his form.

Fu did manage an excellent 5-1 win over David Gilbert in their recent European Masters qualifier and there was enough in his performances in the Championship League to suggest that he could cause Selby problems.

On-yee has won just one of the seven ranking event matches she has contested this term - that was a 4-3 victory over Ken Doherty in their British Open qualifier.

On the evidence of the Hong Kong potter's efforts in the Championship League and European Masters she is going to need to show massive improved form to trouble O'Sullivan.

Form in the book

There have only been nine previous stagings of this invitational event and only one of those has taken place since 1991.

That was a 2017 showdown where O'Sullivan, Fu, Robertson, Trump and Higgins were all in the line-up.

The Rocket got the better of both Higgins and Trump, while Robertson progressed past Selby and Fu in the opposite half of the draw.

The Aussie then beat O'Sullivan 6-3 in the final to lift the trophy and that pair are drawn to meet in the semi-final this time around, meaning we are certain to see at least one new finalist in this year's event.

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