Snooker is entering the era of the big three with Judd Trump, Neil Robertson and Mark Selby set to dominate the sport in 2021, according to world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan.
Ahead of the 47th staging of the Masters involving the game's top 16 players in Milton Keynes between January 10-17 – the first triple crown event of the year – O'Sullivan feels the green baize triple g-force are well clear of the chasing pack and perfectly placed to continue their trophy-winning exploits.
While O’Sullivan lifted a sixth world title at the Crucible last August, the rest of the potting pie in 2020 was snaffled up by a triumvirate with a real appetite for silver service.
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Trump carried off a record six ranking events finishing his year with the World Grand Prix before Christmas, Robertson claimed three including a third UK Championship and Selby has started the 2020-21 season by picking up the European Masters and defending the Scottish Open.
Looking into the crystal snooker balls does not appear to bring a sense of overriding opportunity for the rest of the field.
"This is my prediction. I think the top three are playing to such a high standard, it will be one of those three that win the majority of the events," said O'Sullivan, who begins his quest for an eighth Masters title against Ding Junhui on Wednesday 16 January.

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"If there are 25 tournaments, I reckon 20 of them will go to them. Judd will win six, Neil will win five and Selby will win four. I just think it is that sort of level.
"Mark Allen might win one, Ding (Junhui) might win one, I might win one, someone will win the Shoot Out.
"I just think they are playing to such a high level and the players from 17 downwards in the rankings are all a bit hit and miss in comparison.”
Stuart Bingham was Masters champion last year, Stephen Maguire carried off the Tour Championship, Mark Allen won the Champion of Champions while Kyren Wilson, Luca Brecel and Scott Donaldson were Championship League winners in 2020, but O’Sullivan feels trophy-winning chances are becoming thinner on the ground than the thinnest of snicks on the table.

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The record 37-times ranking event winner edged Selby 17-16 in the World Championship semi-finals, but lost to his fierce rival 9-3 in the Scottish Open final.
He also suffered a 9-7 defeat to Trump in the Northern Ireland final before being flattened by the world number one 6-1 in the World Grand Prix last four last month.
Trump has remarkably lifted 20 ranking events in only nine years, leaving him only two behind Mark Williams in the all-time list with the Welshman’s 22 coming over a 24-year period.
Robertson and Selby are both on 19 titles with Robertson winning a trophy in the sport every year since 2006.

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“There’s a massive gap between those three and maybe the number 18 in the world,” explained the world number three.
“I’ve played those three now and you don’t get a lot off of them, but you seem to get away with quite a bit against the lower-ranked players.
There is a massive gap now between them and everybody else.
“Allen slipped in and won one, Kyren Wilson won one. There will always be that chance for a player to maybe catch one of them on their off day in a final or a semi-final, but it is difficult.”
Desmond Kane

Top 10 ranking event winners and period of titles

  • Ronnie O’Sullivan (Eng) 37 (1993-2020)
  • Stephen Hendry (Sco) 36 (1987-2005)
  • John Higgins (Sco) 30 (1994-2018)
  • Steve Davis (Eng) 28 (1981-1995)
  • Mark Williams (Wal) 22 (1994-2018)
  • Judd Trump (Eng) 20 (2011-2020)
  • Mark Selby (Eng) 19 (2008-2020)
  • Neil Robertson (Aus) 19 (2006-2020)
  • Ding Junhui (Chn) 14 (2005-2019)
  • Jimmy White (Eng) 10 (1986-2004)
Watch live coverage of the 47th Masters on Eurosport between 10-17 January 2021.

2021 Masters first round draw and schedule

  • Judd Trump v David Gilbert (1pm Sunday 10 January)
  • Kyren Wilson v Jack Lisowski (7pm Sunday 10 January)
  • Stuart Bingham v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh (1pm Monday 11 January)
  • Shaun Murphy v Mark Williams (7pm Monday 11 January)
  • Mark Selby v Stephen Maguire (7pm Tuesday 12 January)
  • Neil Robertson v Yan Bingtao (1pm Tuesday 12 January)
  • Judd Trump v David Gilbert (1pm Sunday 10 January)
  • Kyren Wilson v Jack Lisowski (7pm Sunday 10 January)
  • John Higgins v Mark Allen (7pm Wednesday January 13th)
  • Ronnie O’Sullivan v Ding Junhui (1pm Wednesday January 13th)
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