Features

Berlin’s Brief: Mark Williams Owns the Tempodrom Again

By Frank B. Halfar
In Berlin

The final of this year’s German Masters unexpectedly turned out to be an even more one-sided affair than the semi-final, where already Mark Williams had been the winner while conceding but one frame to his opponent. That he would sail to the championship with the same kind of dominance, taking it 9-1 with an evening session that lasted hardly more than half an hour, was likely a surprise to even his most ardent fans. The Pocket Dynamo had eventually run out of energy, as Graeme Dott not for a moment looked as if he could turn things around.

German Masters Mark Williams

Williams has now won two ranking title this season. Photo credit: World Snooker

Williams played with the same cool, easy-looking concentration that we saw every time he took to the table at the Tempodrom. While not everything Williams was doing at the table worked, just as much as what Dott attempted didn’t all go haywire, the dominance of the Welsh Potting Machine was towering. He produced several breathtaking long pots, his safety play was strong, and, as if he needed it, luck was on his side as well – every single time.

When a ball shot by Williams rattled in the pocket, it would fall but had the shot come from Dott it was sure to remain on the table. When Williams misfired, there would be very little on for Dott, yet when it was the other way around all too often an easy pot presented itself for Williams. And several times when Dott seemed to hit the ball very well, solve a difficult situation, or achieve a long pot of his own, there somehow would be a twist, with the white misdirected by some unwanted extra contact, or a red appearing to form an obstacle for the next shot, or a colour disappearing to create a foul out of a shot for which the applause had already begun. The snooker gods had made up their minds very, very clearly this evening.

The Tempodrom wasn’t filled to the last seat as it had been the day before, but the 2,000 plus strong audience still created the atmosphere that the arena is famous for. Ronnie O’Sullivan had joined pundits Jimmy White and Neal Foulds for the pre-match chat and was the centre of attention as always, even when he solely concentrated on his phone while all eyes were on him. Some hopes were whispered that he might do an exhibition to console the audience for the scant snooker the evening offered, but this never came to pass.

In the brief evening session, they willed Dott to work up some resistance and frenetically applauded every single point he managed, but to no avail. From very early on, his body language did not look like that of a winner, like the comeback kid he had been several times in the past few days. Referee Maike Kesseler, officiating in her second German Masters final in a row, had not only a quick but a rather easy job of it. No controversial situations for her today. Originally, Scottish referee Leo Scullion was scheduled to referee at this year’s Tempodrom final, but since he had to cancel it went to Maike, thus meaning that all games in the single table setup were overseen by German officials. Jan Verhaas, under whose watch all refereeing was done, abstained from officiating at matches himself.

But as easy as Dott made it for Williams, the high quality snooker the latter played in every single one of his matches make him a more than worthy winner. So the “Curse of the Tempodrom” is cracked, Mark J. Williams has won it at the Tempodrom for the second time, fittingly the first ever winner now also is the first to achieve this feat.

His acceptance of the Waterford Crystal trophy was as relaxed as his playing style, all smiles to be sure, but none at all of the emotion we saw here the year before. The trophy was presented by Thomas Cesal, CEO of the organizing firm Dragonstars, since the representatives of the head sponsor, Philippine-based gambling platform D88.com, were unwilling to step into the limelight. It was all just a bit too laid back for any exuberance, a touch anticlimactic an end perhaps to a tournament that had contained so many suspense-filled moments in the days before.

Backstage, Williams pondered how to transport his crystalware back home to Wales, and in characteristic manner asked the tournament office to have it shipped to him. He even had been in the mood to shoot several more balls at the one remaining training table with his sparring partner Lee Walker, minutes after having walked out of the arena.

So the memories I take home after five days at what, once more, so many people described as one of the most exciting competitions on the main tour are fond as ever, but the final Sunday somehow failed to be the highlight. As much as Graeme Dott must be deeply disappointed tonight, his winning games, his astonishing comebacks here, are among the most memorable moments for me, alongside the much matured Xiao Guodong, the entertainer in Ryan Day, and the reminder several times of how demanding refereeing really is, what mental prowess is demanded from the third person at the table.

My thanks to all readers here at SnookerHQ, and as always to David Caulfield for having me. For 2018 from Berlin and the Tempodrom, it’s Auf Wiedersehen.



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