Well.its been a while.but where better to kick-start this blog again than at the start of a new year and at the beginning of one of the best weeks on the snooker calendar.
As if to confirm just what a special tournament this is,the draw threw up a potential classic for the first match and for once we were not to be disappointed.
Mark Selby started this season as the world champion and with an unassailable lead at the top of the rankings,but the International Championship apart,things have not been going according to plan with a decision not play the Irish Open to concentrate on the UK backfiring when he exited early on to Donaldson.
Mark Williams on the other hand has been having his most consistent season in years and ended a seven year wait for another ranking title in that Irish Open.
Just what an afternoon we were in for was apparent straight from the off when Williams floated in a beautiful 135 to take the opener and followed it with a run of 89 to lead 2-0.
Selby had done nothing wrong so far though and when his chance came two 70 breaks in three frames either side of the interval saw him move 3-2 ahead,before Williams hit back with 81 to level things up again.
This was high class stuff from both,but it was Selby who seemed to have made the decisive move when he took the next two to move within one of the next round at 5-3.
That looked be all she wrote for Williams as Selby got in again in the next and seemed to be clearing for victory when a kick on a red put a stop to his gallop and Williams made the most of his reprieve to clear,before also taking the next to force the decider at 5-5.
When these two met at the Masters last year it was Selby who came out the right side of a decider and after Williams had failed to make the most of an early chance here,Selby seemed to have done all the hard work again,only to miss the last red along the top cushion and the Welshman cleared to record a 6-5 win.
He can now enjoy a few days back at home in Wales before returning on Friday to face the winner between Hawkins & Wilson.
The other match today brought together two of the games real fluent breakbuilders,as Mark Allen faced Luca Brecel in What was the Belgians Masters debut..
It was strange then that after some fine early play from both,leaving the scores tied at 3-3,it was a lengthy seventh frame that was to prove the pivotal one.Here both players missed several chances,before it was eventually decided when Brecel unluckily saw the white drop into the middle pocket after a superb pot on the brown.This left him needing snookers,but he never got the chance to play for them as Allen cleared to go 4-3.
That seemed to knock the fight out of the young man and Allen quickly made it 5-3 before a run of 120,his second century of the match,saw him over the line 6-3.
For a number of years I've felt that the Masters represented Allen best chance of a "Major" and I still think that though if it is to be this year he may well have to defeat the defending champion & player of the season so far,Ronnie O'Sullivan in the next round.That is providing of course that Ronnie gets the better of Marco Fu first
So we're off and running at the 2018 Masters and tomorrow we can look forward to seeing two of the games biggest names who may feel they have something to prove here this week,as first up Ding Junhui faces Ryan Day & in the evening Judd Trump takes on Liang Wenbo.