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Hossein Vafaei
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Greatest upsets at the Masters

The Masters is a long-established landmark in its new-year slot on the snooker calendar and the 2024 edition in January should be a cracker.

Upsets are less likely in this tournament than at the World Championship, for example, as it features a select field of 16 of the best players in the world.

Unexpected results can, and do, still happen though, with the most recent editions of the tournament being littered with shock results. 

Here are five of the biggest upsets seen at the Masters snooker:

Debutant Vafaei has his day in the sun

We don't have to go back far to find an eyebrow-raising result as there was a major one just last year at Alexandra Palace.

Debutant Hossein Vafaei had only got into the 2023 tournament as a late replacement for the suspended Zhou Xintong, and he was the only player in the field making his first tournament appearance. The Iranian was also the first player from his nation to take part in the Masters.

He made the most of his big opportunity, though, with a brilliant performance to upset Mark Selby 6-2 in the first round. 

Selby had won the tournament three times and was the third seed, and there was little indication of an upset in the offing when the interval came with the score tied at 2-2. 

The Prince of Persia rattled off four consecutive frames to eliminate Selby in an impressive debut.

50/1 Yan was the man in 2021

In 2021, the upset at the Masters was engraved on the trophy as 50/1 long shot Yan Bingtao won the event.

The Chinese cueman was the 12th seed for the event, which was played in Milton Keynes that year, but he knocked out higher-ranked players in every round on his way to his first victory in a major tournament.

At the age of just 20, Yan was making his first appearance in the Masters and was nine years younger than any other player in the field. 

He opened up with a 6-5 win over fourth seed Neil Robertson, and again won a deciding frame to beat ninth seed Stephen Maguire in the quarter-finals. 

The big upsets came as he took down top seed Stuart Bingham, again with a 6-5 scoreline, in his semi-final before thrilling those who backed him at 50/1 before the event by landing the title with a 10-8 victory over John Higgins in the final.

Underdogs had their day in 2020

You can take your pick for what the greatest upset was the 2020 Masters as a host of favourites flopped in the first round. Six of the opening eight contests were won by the lower seed.

Topping the list was ninth seed Shaun Murphy beating number one seed and defending champion Judd Trump in the first round. 

Trump made three century breaks in the first five frames to lead 3-2, but never won a frame in which he didn't score a ton and went out 6-3.

The second and third seeds also lost as Mark Williams was beaten 6-2 by Stuart Bingham and Neil Robertson was taken out by 14th seed Stephen Maguire in an 11-frame match. 

The first-round carnage left ninth-seed Murphy as the highest-ranked player standing by the semi-finals, but his defeat at that stage left 16th seed Ali Carter to play 12th seed Bingham in the final, with Ball Run coming out on top to win a wild tournament.

Maguire ends Rocket's rampant run

Skipping back a decade, the 2008 Masters had produced a big surprise as Ronnie O'Sullivan failed to make the final for the first time in five years.

In fact, he didn't even reach the quarter-finals as a final-frame error saw the Rocket crash out against Stephen Maguire. 

Maguire was the 10th seed, but can't have gone into the contest with high hopes after losing 10-2 to O'Sullivan in the UK Championship final the previous month.

O'Sullivan, the defending champion, fell 4-1 behind early on but fought back to level the match at 5-5 and was looking good in the decider until missing the blue to allow Maguire to nip in and clinch a famous victory.

Veteran Davis wins interesting clash

Ronnie O'Sullivan was also on the wrong end of a shock result in the 1997 Masters, when veteran Steve Davis rolled back the years to beat the young gunslinger in a classic meeting of generations.

The 21-year-old O'Sullivan was playing in his third consecutive final against the 39-year-old Nugget, whose previous Masters success had come nine years earlier in 1988.

Everything seemed to be going to plan for the Rocket as he led 8-4 in what was then a best-of-19 final, but Davis racked up six straight frames to secure what was to be the last big success of his illustrious career.

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