A high-quality field will assemble in the German Masters this week as one of the most well-liked events on the calendar returns to Berlin on Wednesday.
The tremendous Tempodrom has staged the German Masters every year since 2011 and right from the very beginning it was heralded as a major success.
Boasting a capacity crowd of 2,500 people in a unique circus-style arena, with arguably the sport’s most appreciative and enthusiastic supporters in the world, the German Masters is a festival of snooker that’s never to be missed.
Two qualifying rounds of the German Masters are always played out in December, which can often result in a significant number of the top players failing to reach the venue stages.
However, this edition will include an elite line-up that should provide the tournament with plenty of drama and excitement.
The notable absentee is Ronnie O’Sullivan, who along with Mark Allen didn’t enter this season, but every other member of the top 16 will be in action aside from former runner-up Luca Brecel – who lost in the preliminaries.
Mark Williams is the defending champion after his convincing 9-1 defeat of Graeme Dott in last year’s final – a success that meant he became the first two-time winner of the German Masters.
The Welshman meets talented young Chinese competitor Zhou Yuelong, who last week turned 21.
World number one Mark Selby has fond memories of the Tempodrom, with the 35 year-old standing atop the rankings list ever since his 9-7 victory over Shaun Murphy in the 2015 final.
Selby, who faced Williams in the inaugural final eight years ago, is in the opposite side of the draw to the world champion and will entertain three-time ranking event winner Ricky Walden in the last 32.
The only other former champion in the 2019 German Masters is Ding Junhui, who lifted the trophy in 2014 during a record-equalling campaign in which he bagged five ranking titles.
Determined Irishman Fergal O’Brien represents Ding’s initial obstacle as he bids to build on the improvement in form that he demonstrated in the recent Masters.
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One of the favourites will undoubtedly be Judd Trump, who must be riding a renewed wave of confidence since capturing a second career Triple Crown title at the Ally Pally.
Trump, who memorably compiled the first 147 break at the Tempodrom in 2015 a year after missing out in the title decider to Ding, meets China’s Li Hang.
Right throughout the draw there are intriguing ties to look forward to and, if the majority of the seeds can progress from their opening contests, there will surely be a thrilling conclusion in store.
Shaun Murphy and Peter Ebdon clash in a battle of former world champions while struggling Scot John Higgins faces an up-and-coming star in teenager Yuan Sijun.
English Open champion Stuart Bingham and Jimmy Robertson, the surprise winner of the European Masters this term, go head to head while Yan Bingtao takes on former UK champion Matthew Stevens.
With the likes of Neil Robertson, Barry Hawkins, Kyren Wilson, Jack Lisowski, Ryan Day, and Stephen Maguire also in the mix, it promises to be an entertaining scramble to claim the £80,000 champion’s cheque on Sunday.