The first ranking event silverware of 2021 will be handed out at the weekend.
Judd Trump and Ding Junhui are among those still in the draw as the German Masters resumes on Wednesday at the Marshall Arena.
The tremendous Tempodrom in Berlin usually hosts the venue stages of this competition, but like every other tournament so far this season the crown will be contested for in Milton Keynes.
That, of course, is as a result of the ongoing coronavirus crisis which has impacted heavily on international travel.
Two preliminary rounds have already taken place, meaning there are 32 players who remain in the hunt for glory in 2021.
Prize, History, and Format
The German Masters has been running in its current form for a decade, with Mark Williams emerging as the inaugural champion back in 2011.
The Welshman is the only player to have triumphed twice at the Tempodrom, but Williams suffered a somewhat controversial 5-4 defeat to Paul Davison in the qualifiers just before Christmas.
Indeed, there are only two former champions left in the German Masters draw – Trump, who triumphed twelve months ago, and 2014 winner Ding.
World champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, who etched his name onto the trophy nine years ago, decided not to enter, while fellow former winners Mark Selby and Kyren Wilson were among the others to fail in the qualifiers.
The German Masters has been widely recognised as one of the best tournaments on the calendar, but a lot of that is down to where the action formerly took place in Berlin.
When packed to its capacity with 2,500 fans, the Tempodrom stands deservedly as one of the sport’s greatest and most spine-tingling venues.
This year’s tournament will be markedly different then, and the unique atmosphere that separates it from other events on the schedule will be an enormous miss.
Still, there is a total prize fund of £400,000 on offer with a fifth of that sum going to the competitor who lands the title on Sunday.
The German Masters is also part of the BetVictor European Series – a sequence of events sponsored by the betting company in which the highest earner will receive a handsome £150,000 bonus.
The event is additionally important in terms of the Race to the Players Championship, an upcoming tournament in which only the top 16 on the one-year rankings list will qualify.
Matches are the best-of-nine frames until the semi-finals, which will take place over eleven frames ahead of the best-of-17 final showdown.
The trophy has been renamed the Brandon Parker Trophy in honour of the manager and promoter who died last year and who was instrumental in first bringing snooker back to Germany.
2021 German Masters Draw
Trump won the title for the first time in 2020 with a 9-6 victory over Neil Robertson in the final.
The Englishman comfortably qualified for the last 32 this year and will face Mark Davis on Wednesday evening in what will be his first outing of the year following his Masters withdrawal due to a positive COVID test.
As luck would have it, Ding is in the same quarter of the draw, and the pair could face off in the quarter-finals in what would be a repeat of the 2014 final.
Ding takes on Kacper Filipiak in his opening fixture, but Stephen Maguire and Joe Perry are other notable names in the same section.
Elsewhere in the top half, Shaun Murphy will attempt to kick start his campaign when he entertains Jamie O’Neill.
Potential challenges in that bracket could later arrive from 2018 finalist Graeme Dott, Barry Hawkins, or Liang Wenbo.
Meanwhile, the bottom half of the German Masters draw features Stuart Bingham and Jack Lisowski.
Bingham and Zhou Yuelong battle in one of the fixtures of the round in the bottom quarter, with Lisowski in action against Louis Heathcote and 2016 runner-up Luca Brecel vying for a place in this year’s last 16 with Noppon Saengkham.
The remaining quarter of the draw is wide open after a series of defeats for the higher-ranked players and the withdrawal of John Higgins on the eve of the event due to a COVID-19 positive test.
That grants Stuart Carrington with safe passage through to the second round, and the sole member from the top 32 in this section is Tom Ford.
Really excited for the German Masters. With many of the top seeds not entered/knocked out in qualifying it’s a very good chance for some lesser ranked players to break through. Or Judd Trump could just breeze it, of course
— Snooker Loopy (@SnookerLoopy_) January 21, 2021
Last 32 Draw
Judd Trump vs Mark Davis
Duane Jones vs Joe Perry
Kacper Filipiak vs Ding Junhui
Dominic Dale vs Stephen Maguire
Shaun Murphy vs Jamie O’Neill
Jordan Brown vs Graeme Dott
Barry Hawkins vs Ryan Day
Liang Wenbo vs Jak Jones
Fergal O’Brien vs Michael White (a)
Mark Joyce vs Joe O’Connor
Tom Ford vs Yuan Sijun
Stuart Carrington W/O
Pang Junxu vs Robbie Williams
Stuart Bingham vs Zhou Yuelong
Louis Heathcote vs Jack Lisowski
Luca Brecel vs Noppon Saengkham
Click here to view the full draw (Times in CET)
Where to Watch the German Masters
The German Masters will be available to watch in Ireland, the UK, and across Europe on Eurosport.
Other options for live coverage are available around the world, which you can view by clicking here.
For all other territories, the action can be followed on the Matchroom.Live streaming service via a subscription.
As has become the norm this season, the tournament in Milton Keynes will be staged behind closed doors.
Featured photo credit: WST