Defending champion Martin Gould is into the quarter-finals of the German Masters after a 5-3 victory over Ricky Walden on Thursday in Berlin.
The Englishman easily won his opening fixture against Jamie Jones 5-0 and it looked like he was headed for a similar outcome when he took all four frames against Walden before the mid-session interval.
A late rally from Walden, however, brought the 34 year-old to within one frame of forcing a decider, only for Gould to quash any such ideas with a run of 64 sealing his last eight berth.
Since his maiden ranking event triumph at the Tempodrom twelve months ago, Gould has mostly struggled to replicate that kind of form and has since dropped outside the top 16 in the world rankings.
It looked as though the 35 year-old would struggle to make the top 32 line-up in next week’s World Grand Prix, where qualification is based on money earned this season, but a run to the semi-finals would give him a chance of reaching the Guild Hall in Preston – although, depending on other results, he might need to go even further.
Aside from that, Gould obviously fancies a crack at becoming the first person to defend the German Masters crown this weekend, and he would in fact be the first player to win the title twice since its return to the calendar as a ranking event in 2011.
Gould will face Ryan Day for a place in those semi-finals after the Welshman fought back from 3-0 and 4-3 down to deny Robin Hull in a final frame shoot-out.
Day lost three close frames but salvaged the first mini-session with a superb 132 before levelling the contest upon the restart.
A 53 break from Hull sent him to the brink of what would have been only a fourth ranking quarter-final appearance of his long career, but the Finn couldn’t capitalise on the opportunity with runs of 58 and a cool 104 in the decider sending Day through.
Day, three times a ranking event runner-up, lost an epic semi-final in this tournament three years ago to Ding Junhui and will be looking for another chance to reach a final and potentially grab that elusive piece of silverware that is lacking from his CV.
Meanwhile, 2013 champion Ali Carter emerged from an entertaining battle with Chinese teenager Zhao Xintong, having also been taken the distance.
The pair traded big breaks throughout an open affair and, with runs of 90 and 69, it looked like a shock might be on the cards as Zhao moved 4-3 in front.
Yet, experience told in the end with a more composed Carter securing his passage at the expense of a young player who will surely, sooner rather than later, move into the higher echelons of the sport.
Carter’s next opponent will be maximum man Tom Ford, who took full advantage of Ronnie O’Sullivan’s demise by ousting Mark King 5-2.
Elsewhere on a busy day of action, the first round was completed with the likes of Mark Selby, Stuart Bingham, and Barry Hawkins moving into the last 16.
There were a few upsets of note, though, as Neil Robertson, Marco Fu, and Mark Williams were defeated by Ben Woollaston, David Gilbert, and Anthony Hamilton respectively.
16 year-old Yan Bingtao beat Dominic Dale 5-2 to set up a clash with Michael Holt, the runner-up from the Riga Masters at the outset of the campaign.
Friday represents a particularly hectic day for the competitors in the bottom half of the draw.
The second round is played out to a conclusion in the afternoon before it’s straight back on the tables for the quarter-finals that evening.
Quarter-final night at the Tempodrom is regarded as one of the very best sessions of snooker all season with a quartet of important encounters simultaneously ongoing in front of what is usually a packed auditorium.
The electric atmosphere inside the cauldron arena seems to bring out the best in the players as, in the last two editions of the German Masters, seven out of the eight quarter-final ties have ended in deciders.
Let’s hope a similar level of drama can be produced again this year.