German Masters
Features, Main News, Ranking

Berlin’s Brief: Former German Masters Champions Advance

The second day of the German Masters is always the “long day” at the Tempodrom; three sessions, and again this year my very nice colleagues let me miss the early one, since I’m occupied with certain articles long after they’ve gone to sleep. Without fail, Thursday produces a tense battle late at night, and this year was no exception.

The main attraction of the morning session was Mark Selby, who took no prisoners at the TV table, allowing Barry Pinches a total of 54 points in their entire match, and thus less than what Selby scored in every single frame. The day started with a whitewash. Since there was another walkover, for Andrew Higginson who should have played Liang Wenbo, there were only two further encounters; a 5-2 for Fan Zhengyi over Liam Highfield, and Mark Allen’s 5-1 disposal of Lyu Haotian.

The mysterious water source right over the central table somehow had been sorted, and dryness now prevailed. The “light show” to entertain the audience before the actual session had more and more touches of discotheque, with rotating spotlights, a WST logo projected on the TV table, red and yellow lights galore, and music to suit the mood. Somehow this was a touch of Ally Pally and a darts competition in the Tempodrom. Clearly meant as an enhancement, it did not quite meet with unanimous approval.

The task of emceeing had to be reassigned this year, yet another consequence of COVID. The inimitable Rolf Kalb could not be present in Berlin. He comments from Gütersloh, mirroring the British Eurosport crew who are sadly absent as well and do their job remotely, from England. This limelight role fell to Guido Hermann, photographer and professional moderator, who had been a fixture at the German Masters for a long time, albeit in a less prominent function. He fills the task with ease, navigating between the many necessary “housekeeping reminders”, masks, phones, photography, movement, the drill, and amiable banter about the tournament. For the evening session he adds an interview. The first two days were devoted to women in snooker, and we stewards seem to be on his list, which so far results in varying degrees of panic among us.

The technology hiccups apparently could not all be taken care of, some of the scoreboards on the side tables did stall again, this time forcing one match to be in fact scored manually on a wooden board, unseeable both for the audience and the worldwide betting community. One rumour has it that the many bluetooth signals in the hall may be the problem. Referee Kevin Dabrowski, often assigned to the affected table two, merrily proclaimed that he didn’t mind having a marker all that much. His was that last ending session that took until after midnight, and this time he did have to score it all by himself.

But to the afternoon first. Shaun Murphy and Kurt Maflin treated us to the first decider of this year’s tournament, in a fight with several reversals of fortune. Maflin had the better start, then Murphy managed to equal it for a 2-2 scoreline at the mid-session interval. After the tea break it was the other way around, with Murphy pulling ahead and the Norwegian drawing even by winning frames seven and eight. A strong 67 break made all the difference in favour of the “Magician”, keeping one of the bigger names in play after the early departures of Neil Robertson and Mark Williams. Referee Malgorzata Kanieska officiated over the melee in very high heels.

David Gilbert looked outright upset at a snooker he couldn’t get out of serially, and the less than empathic audience reaction. Such emotions never bide well in this so very mental sport, and at the end the Angry Farmer had to congratulate his opponent Yan Bingtao on his 5-3 win. The Chinese looks like a force to be reckoned with for sure.

My best viewing opportunity in the afternoon was for the battle of young against, shall we say, experienced, in the match of Sam Craigie against Ireland’s very Ken Doherty. Both players had their ups and downs. For a long time the match looked winnable for either one, and it had its scrappy aspects as well with fouls and misses aplenty, including an unnecessary clothing foul that cost that Darling of Dublin six points. Craigie gained in assurance as the match drew on, and that made the difference in the 5-3 victory for him. Losing the penultimate frame by one point may have been what contributed to doing Doherty in.

Dinner was hasty, the long session leaving us little time. Judd Trump played in the mould of Mark Selby on the central table, leaving little for Zhou Yuelong in his first actual appearance this year, and with it the second whitewash of the day. Tom Ford looked like a different player compared with the day before in his clash with Zhao Xintong. Gone was the brazen all-out-attack mood, no sign of toying with a maximum tonight. Zhao was in command and surely has to be looked at when considering possible champions here this year. It was the quickest match of the evening with a 5-1 for Zhao.

Somewhat similar fortunes were in store for Luca Brecel at the neighbouring table, the Belgian Bullet encountering a Ricky Walden whom he couldn’t stop. The assured mood in which he packed his gear for Berlin served him more than well, his 5-2 disposal of Brecel earning him a slot in the quarter-final stage.

The aforementioned epic battle to the bitter end was between Kyren Wilson and Craig Steadman. The latter took the loss of his early lead by the interval with ease and fought for every ball, bringing the score to 4-3. But the one missing frame wouldn’t be his. He should have asked me for milk for his coffee again, perhaps…

The unforced errors of Wilson were markedly fewer at the end, and when the Warrior won the gritty fight for the third-to-last red he sailed home, taking the final frame with a 79-33 scoreline that looked a lot clearer than the battle leading to it. A German Masters quarter-final berth for the former Tempodrom champion as well!

And so we await the famous Friday, with the remaining round two matches and then on to the final eight. The evening audience was already encouraging, a promise of more to come has been made.

German Masters

Quarter-Finals

(All matches start at 7pm GMT on Friday)

Judd Trump vs Zhao Xintong
Kyren Wilson vs Ricky Walden

Higginson/Fan vs Allen/Murphy
Day/Craigie vs Yan/Selby

Last 16

(All matches start at 1pm GMT on Friday)

Andrew Higginson vs Fan Zhengyi
Mark Allen vs Shaun Murphy

Ryan Day vs Sam Craigie
Yan Bingtao vs Mark Selby

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

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