Sun 13:30 : Mark Selby v Mark King
First up to bat is defending champion Mark Selby. His first round opponent is the ever present and stalwart Mark King from London. Selby having won this event on two previous occasions should feel at home at the Wembley Arena by now and always puts up a good show. King on the other hand even though he is a local lad he doesn't seem to make much progress here and is barely hanging on in the top 16, so I expect the Jester from Leicester Mark Selby to dispatch Kingy with ease (6-2).
Wed 19:00 : Shaun Murphy v Jamie Cope
A slightly more difficult match to call as both players have have a good season so far. Shaun has won a EPTC event and topped the order of merit whilst Jamie Cope reached the semi finals of the Shanghai Masters in China. But Shaun has played here a few more times than Jamie who makes his debut at Wembley next week. The atmosphere at the venue is unlike any other in the world and it might take Jamie a few frames to settle in and judging on his poor performance in this week's Championship League I would have to favour the Smurf Shaun Murphy to win (6-4).
Mon 13:30 : Mark Williams v Ding Junhui
One of the more exciting first round matches pits the top players from Wales and China; Mark Williams and Ding Junhui. Mark could not of realistically wished for a better year than 2010, after a poor 2009 he came back and won the China Open, reached the semi's of the World Open and narrowly lost to John Higgins in the match of the year at the UK championship finals. He will be brimming with confidence unlike Ding who since winning the PTC event in October hasn't had much to show for since. But I am sure that Ding would have been practicing hard for this event, but I still slightly favour Mark Williams to win based on recent form (6-4).
Mon 19:00 : John Higgins v Graeme Dott
No one would of expected John Higgins to recover so quickly after his well publicised six month ban from the game, but he shot straight back, winning EPTC5, reaching the final of EPTC6 and most importantly, taking the UK Championship title in what was easily the match of the year. John has admitted though that he finds the atmosphere at Wembley daunting and has only won the event twice and has had 4 first round exits in the last decade. Graeme Dott will be looking to capitalize for those reasons in this all Scottish clash. Since reaching the World Championship finals again last season, Dott hasn't won that many matches so he will be putting up a strong front. Even though I can't see John Higgins loosing this match, but stranger things have happened (6-3).
Sun 19:00: Ali Carter v Peter Ebdon
These two friends met at the same stages of this event two years ago when the captain Ali Carter soared to a 6-0 defeat over Peter Ebdon. 2010 was another strong year for Ali when he reached another semi final at the Crucible and even with tough playing conditions he captured the Shanghai Masters. Peter was out of the top 16 for the first time in years at the end of last season after loosing to Graeme Dott in the first round of the World Championsip. Thankfully for him though he put in a strong showing at the World Open reaching the semi final and narrowly lost to Ronnie O'Sullivan which meant he was back in the top 16. Ebdon is riding the crest of a wave at the moment but the captain Ali Carter will be looking to repeat his crushing defeat of Peter two years ago (6-4).
Tue 19:00 : Stephen Maguire v Marco Fu
Probably the most difficult match to call of the first round ties. Stephen Maguire isn't having the best of season's by his standards, only reaching two quarter finals and not much to show in the PTC events either. Marco Fu didn't even reach a final of any of the PTC events but he reached a couple semi's and quarters which meant he finished 15th in the order of merit and qualifies for the televised finals. Unfortunately for Marco though he didn't perform very well in the major ranking events and finds himself down to 25th in the rankings and has to qualify for the Welsh Open and most likely for the China Open and the World's. Like with Ebdon and Williams I believe that this will spur on Marco Fu to perform much stronger than he has done recently and he could cause an upset to the higher ranked Maguire (6-5).
Tue 13:30 : Ronnie O'Sullivan v Mark Allen
Mark Allen has had some terrific battles with Ronnie O'Sullivan in the past, the most prolific being his 13-11 win over the Rocket in the 2009 World Championship second round when Ronnie was the defending champion. Allen made a slow start to the season in the PTC events and the major rankers but bounced back at the UK Championship, reaching the semi finals before loosing to eventual champ John Higgins. O'Sullivan also has had an up and down season, reaching the World Open final, winning the premier league but loosing in the first round of the UK to Stuart Bingham means he is down to 8th in the latest rankings. But the Masters is not a ranking event and Ronnie O'Sullivan always seems to thrive here so I can't him loosing, but if anyone can upset him in the first round it could be Allen. (6-4)
Wed 13:30 : Neil Robertson v Stephen Hendry
Last but not least it's the defending World Champion Neil Robertson, versus the seven times World Champion Stephen Hendry. 2010 was easily Neil's best season, winning the World Championship and capturing the inaugural World Open event. But loosing in the quarter finals of the UK championship and failing to get into the top 24 on the PTC order of merit have meant that Neil has dropped back down to no.2 in the ranking's after only being no.1 for four or so months. In comparison you could argue that 2010 was one of the worst in Hendry's career, loosing in the first round of the Shanghai Masters to Martin Gould and only reaching the second round of the UK Championships. On the cusp of falling out of the top 16 and needing to qualify for the crucible in March, Hendry will be looking to step up a gear a show us what he has left in the run up to the German Masters and the Welsh Open next month. After his disappointment in the UK Neil Robertson will be looking to claim his first Masters title and may be to strong for Stephen (6-3).
The MaximumSnooker.com top four predicted players to win the Ladbrokes Mobile Masters are:
- John Higgins
- Ronnie O'Sullivan
- Mark Williams
- Neil Robertson