Hello and Guten Tag from Berlin! It feels like a very long time since we were able to say this, after the relocation of the German Masters to Milton Keynes last year.
So this year they are back where they belong, in the spectacular Tempodrom, after the World Snooker Tour, the local organiser, and at last the Berlin state government gave the green light. Or rather the red one could assume, since the lighting in the hall has received a major revamp, with enough crimson to make the audience believe they are in a red light district. The number of tables has been decreased to four, and with that their position in the hall has shifted, which makes them look a little strange, the “clockface” seemingly having lost a bit of its dial.
The hygiene concept is rather stricter than what recently could be seen in the UK: visitors are required to prove they are cured or vaccinated, plus they need a same-day negative COVID test result. Those who make it through the ghastly November-like weather are greeted with a bus in front of the venue, which may look gritty from the outside, graffiti all over the place, but inside it’s a full laboratory for those who didn’t manage to get their test before arrival.
But to the snooker! The first day gave us the fall of two great names, each session ousting one. Mark Williams lost to Zhao Xintong, 3-5, and in the evening, at the same central table, Neil Robertson found his conqueror in a very confident Ricky Walden. The recent Masters champion pointed out to referee Maike Kesseler that some water was dripping right onto the table, likely condensation from the impressive new lighting. A whole bunch of concerned looking people looked at the situation, so we may find out tomorrow whether the Tempodrom may require a little plumbing…
The afternoon session was largely free of sensations apart from Mark Williams’ departure. Kyren Wilson didn’t leave much for Jimmy Robertson, winning 5-1. Luca Brecel, who may have big plans for Berlin this year, looked assured in his 5-3 defeat of Zhang Anda, and Anthony McGill may have been a little indisposed, losing 2-5 to Zhou Yuelong.
The evening session was not overly long either, but richer in centuries, and also in audience. The arena is not very filled, at least on the first day, and the number of no-shows is high. It was heard that more than 50% of ticket holders didn’t show up. For the weekend there is talk of 2,000 visitors, which should give the Tempodrom its famed atmosphere… if the 2,000 people really do come. We shall see.
For Craig Steadman’s 5-2 evening victory over Michael Georgiou I claim a minor credit. Yes, really. It was no other than me who got Craig the milk for his pre-match coffee. Had he to drink it without… we will never know how his play would have turned out.
A slight drama occurred on table two, where Tom Ford and Stephen Maguire had to wait patiently while play on the two other tables long had commenced. The scoreboard wouldn’t work. Likely an issue of the remote control, which is called “zapper” in this business. Highest authorities were summoned, Jan Verhaas, as head referee normally working behind the scenes, put in an appearance, and just when it became likely the wooden old-fashioned scoreboard might have to be used (there is one at each table, just in case), a solution was found. An extra referee had to come, position himself on the most hideous plastic chair that could be found in the hurry, and act as marker, scoring the match manually from a laptop. A little luxury for referee Kevin Dabrowski, after all a marker is normally the domaine réservé of the central TV table.
Maguire and Ford were totally unperturbed. They seem to have a good rapport, chatting amiably with each other, and then watching the main attraction of the Robertson-Walden match until the issue was sorted. Maguire started with a strong 135 clearance, playing with utmost efficiency, most balls just lightly potted with a soft stroke over a short distance.
But the fire was short lived, and it was Tom Ford’s match. Overcoming an early slight shakiness, and with a frequent shaking of his head, he won four frames on the trot, even en route to a maximum which ended at 81, alas. He had graced the Tempodrom with a maximum already in the past. Maguire tried his best to fight back, but another 104 by Tom Ford in the seventh frame ended their encounter – 5-2 for Ford.
And thus we await day two, hopefully with the technology working in full, the tables dry, the red lights possibly adjusted a little, since they seem to blind some audience members. The Tempodrom, the German Masters, they are alive! And what may have been lacking in sheer numbers, was rather well compensated for with the renowned enthusiasm of the audience in Berlin.
Judd Trump w/o Gao Yang
Anthony McGill 2-5 Zhou Yuelong
Tom Ford 5-2 Stephen Maguire
Zhao Xintong 5-3 Mark Williams
Kyren Wilson 5-1 Jimmy Robertson
Michael Georgiou 2-5 Craig Steadman
Zhang Anda 3-5 Luca Brecel
Ricky Walden 5-3 Neil Robertson
Andrew Higginson w/o Liang Wenbo
Liam Highfield vs Fan Zhengyi (Thursday, 9am)
Lyu Haotian vs Mark Allen (Thursday, 9am)
Kurt Maflin vs Shaun Murphy (Thursday, 2pm)
Noppon Saengkham vs Ryan Day (Thursday, 2pm)
Sam Craigie vs Ken Doherty (Thursday, 2pm)
David Gilbert vs Yan Bingtao (Thursday, 2pm)
Barry Pinches vs Mark Selby (Thursday, 9am)
Live coverage of the 2022 German Masters will be available in Ireland, Britain, and across Europe via Eurosport. Other options are available by clicking here.
Featured photo credit: WST
Actually, those that are triple-vaccinated (like me) don’t need any tests at all, so I didn’t need to visit the ‘test bus’. All I required was vaccine certificate, passport and ticket. There is a ‘Luca App’ – Germany’s ‘Test-and-Trace’, but it’s not a requirement, an address form is sufficient. Similarly, entering Germany was simple. I only required a same-day test for the BA flight.
The atmosphere inside is similar to my previous visits. I tend to go to multi-table events, and the tempodrom has never been full during the weekdays. It usually fills up considerably on Friday night. But even the Masters in Alexandra Palace wasn’t full when I went there (on a Monday). Apart from lack of WiFi, the facilities are a little better here than in most events in England, but they still play pop music and shine coloured lights in our eyes before the matches – snooker’s feeble attempt at ‘modernisation’.
I’ve often found that some players seem inspired at the Tempodrom, whilst others don’t settle. Yesterday Ricky Walden, Craig Steadman and Tom Ford seemed very comfortable. I still expect one of the remaining top players: Selby, Trump, Wilson, Allen, possibly Murphy, to be the contenders to win it, but others might have a deep run.