The first dust has settled following Judd Trump’s terrific triumph at the 2024 German Masters in Berlin.
Here are some impressions looking back on the most recent edition of the tournament at the magnificent Tempodrom.
While naturally a lot of the focus is on the victorious player who seems to dominate much of the season with great panache, runner-up Si Jiahui made a great impression in Berlin as well.
Not only because of the quality of his snooker play, but also the 21 year-old’s remarkably mature and seemingly imperturbable personality.
Si’s start into the final on Sunday could not have been much more unlucky. He was plagued serially by near misses, losing position, pocketing the white, and more of the kind.
But he never seemed to lose his calm and focus, a feat more experienced players do not necessarily seem capable of at all times.
It was telling to observe him in his last-16 match on Thursday against fellow Chinese young gun Yuan Sijun, who is more than two years older than Si.
It was Si who looked the senior, and by far not only because of Yuan’s highly frequent toilet breaks. His appearance at the Crucible semi-final surely was no accident.
Perhaps it might just be him who can make the grand breakthrough to the very top that seems to escape Ding Junhui, who was absent in Berlin.
The odd imperfection
Yes, it was a very successful week again, and the tournament adopted the longer seven-day format well.
But that is not to say that there was never any glitch. The scoring system once again showed that it can be temperamental – luckily it only happened at one of the early rounds.
The table fitters had to do some minute adjustments to two of the side tables in front of the audience, complete with crawling under the table car-mechanic style.
A regrettably undisciplined member of the audience very likely cost Zhou Yuelong a maximum, when he moved at the worst moment causing Zhou to miss the very last red.
The always mild-mannered Chinese competitor supposedly was fuming afterwards.
Incidentally another run to a 147, by Sam Craigie, ended with two reds being pocketed at once, so the Berlin audience was not treated to this particular feat of snooker this year.
Name’s the same
A battle of two players by the same first name is not all that remarkable. We’ve seen, for instance, two Marks going at it several times in the past.
But the 2024 German Masters boasted more remarkable such match-ups, with Neil Robertson playing Jimmy Robertson on Tuesday morning, and the afternoon just barely missing a repeat performance, when Mark and Robbie Williams played at neighboring tables. Both of them lost…
Moments of fairness and gallant losing
The ideal of fairness and snooker being a gentleman’s sport lives on, and there were two fine examples at the Tempodrom.
Sam Craigie alerted the referee to a 7-point foul in his semi-final match that easily could have gone unnoticed.
As official Marcel Eckhart later explained to me, Craigie had hit the white twice before it started its trip to the black.
And Ali Carter, so often rumoured to be not the best loser, could not have been more magnanimous when his dream of a title defence was ended by Craigie in the quarter-finals.
He praised his opponent backstage and showed a smile. It is moments like these that reaffirm my love of the sport.
There was a very special guest in the audience for the final session on Sunday evening.
The gentleman in question, blind from birth, had been spotted by emcee Rolf Kalb when he attended Thursday’s evening session.
He asked none other than the snooker journalist whether this was the Tempodrom upon his arrival – at the stage entrance – coming alone and unaided to a neighbourhood of Berlin that he seemed not familiar with.
A snooker fan who cannot see the game, yet very much is in love with it.
He was given an earpiece so he could listen to the commentary for free, and Kalb asked him about his fandom afterwards, the conversation so impressing him that he spontaneously invited him to come a second time as his personal guest to the very final session.
He was briefly interviewed by Kalb during the pre-show emceeing routine and received the trademark Tempodrom thunderous applause.
A very special moment of the 2024 German Masters.
The Tempodrom does not tilt…
… but it could almost have seemed that way.
This, because the seven table setup was used less and less as the tournament progressed.
The look was particularly impressive with six tables surrounding the central TV table, forming what I always call the clockface of snooker tables under the tent-like circular structure.
But as of Thursday, there never were more than four matches played in one session, so one entire half of the “clock” was without use, the tables on the left half empty and unlit.
This became more radical on Friday, with only two quarter-finals per session played, thus only the TV table and the “two o’clock table” in use.
While I loved the extension of the tournament to a full week, resulting in a much better presence of the marquee names, and not least the opportunity for the lone German on the main tour, Lukas Kleckers, to play his held-over match against Judd Trump on the very TV table, I did miss the four quarter-finals being played on the Friday evening.
This always was a personal highlight, but one cannot have it all…
Looking back on a tremendous week of snooker in Berlin, it was once again an unmissable experience.
A short moment I particularly recall was Si Jiahui’s entrance for Saturday’s semi-final, his first solo walk on through the tumultuous crowd.
He gave a short but noticeable halt, standing for a gaze into the arena before he commenced his entrance.
The enthused 2,500-member audience is something even the Crucible cannot offer, and it didn’t fail to impress.
Watching Trump, a deserved champion at the 2024 German Masters, play often was a marvel.
He continues to be at a remarkably consistent peak, and his dominance was of a kind one does not experience so often.
He now is the only player with three German Masters titles to his record, Mark Williams and Ali Carter being the players who have won it twice.
But we couldn’t help quipping that the “German” title Trump won when every tournament was played in Milton Keynes during the pandemic somehow cannot fully count.
I likely will forever associate Elton John’s “Cold, Cold Heart” with this year’s tournament, the title being played before every single session.
Apparently someone at World Snooker Tour really likes it. Or just possibly nobody thought of bringing something else in the way of music to Berlin.
There’s a guest book in the Players Lounge, the cueists invited to immortalise their visit to the Tempodrom.
This is what former world champion Ken Doherty, who only got to play a single match here, wrote into it: “Thank you for all your hospitality.”
“This is one of the best arenas on the snooker tour and the atmosphere is always amazing.”
On this note, for the 2024 German Masters, from Berlin, it’s Auf Wiedersehen.
2024 German Masters draw
Round of 128 (bo9)
Ali Carter 5-4 Michael White
Peng Yisong 5-4 Alfie Burden
Pang Junxu 5-2 Jimmy White
Haydon Pinhey 5-3 Rod Lawler
Zak Surety 5-3 Jack Lisowski
Alexander Ursenbacher 5-0 Ma Hailong
Hossein Vafaei 5-0 Mink Nutcharut
Elliot Slessor 5-2 Iulian Boiko
Sam Craigie 5-2 Sean O’Sullivan
Liam Pullen 5-1 Stuart Bingham
He Guoqiang 5-4 John Astley
Mark Williams 5-3 David Grace
Graeme Dott 5-3 Victor Sarkis
Ashley Carty 5-2 Noppon Saengkham
Andrew Higginson 5-4 Jiang Jun
Shaun Murphy 3-5 Xu Si
Mark Allen 5-4 Manasawin Phetmalaikul
Louis Heathcote 5-1 Andy Lee
Stephen Maguire 5-1 Rebecca Kenna
Joe O’Connor 5-2 Andy Hicks
John Higgins 5-3 Daniel Wells
Martin Gould 5-4 James Cahill
Zhou Yuelong 5-4 Jak Jones
Tian Pengfei 5-4 Reanne Evans
Jamie Clarke 5-3 Hammad Miah
Scott Donaldson 5-4 Gary Wilson
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 5-1 Jamie Jones
Zhang Anda 5-3 Mostafa Dorgham
Martin O’Donnell 5-2 Himanshu Dain
Matthew Selt 5-4 Dylan Emery
Matthew Stevens 5-3 Anton Kazakov
Judd Trump 5-0 Lukas Kleckers
Barry Pinches 2-5 Julien Leclercq
Ken Doherty 5-0 Jenson Kendrick
David Gilbert 5-0 Dean Young
Jordan Brown 5-4 Long Zehuang
Robert Milkins 5-4 Allan Taylor
Robbie Williams 5-3 Jackson Page
Ryan Day 5-3 Stan Moody
Oliver Brown 5-0 Andres Petrov
Andrew Pagett 5-3 Ahmed Aly Elsayed
Chris Wakelin 5-3 Mohamed Ibrahim
Aaron Hill 5-3 Muhammad Asif
Yuan Sijun 5-2 Ding Junhui
Mark Joyce 5-1 Wu Yize
Si Jiahui 5-4 Lyu Haotian
Alfie Davies 5-4 Sydney Wilson
Mark Selby 1-5 Marco Fu
Neil Robertson 5-1 Sanderson Lam
Jimmy Robertson 5-3 Liam Highfield
Joe Perry 5-0 Ryan Thomerson
Xing Zihao 5-1 Ross Muir
Kyren Wilson 5-3 Oliver Lines
Ben Woollaston 5-1 Anthony Hamilton
Ricky Walden 5-1 Adam Duffy
David Lilley 5-2 Liam Graham
Xiao Guodong 5-1 Ian Burns
Tom Ford 5-0 Baipat Siripaporn
Mark Davis 5-2 Ashley Hugill
Barry Hawkins 5-2 Stuart Carrington
Ben Mertens 5-3 Rory Thor
Fan Zhengyi 5-1 Cao Yupeng
Liu Hongyu 5-0 Dominic Dale
Luca Brecel 2-5 Ishpreet Singh Chadha
Round of 64 (bo9)
Ali Carter 5-1 Peng Yisong
Pang Junxu 5-1 Haydon Pinhey
Zak Surety 5-2 Alexander Ursenbacher
Elliot Slessor w/o Hossein Vafaei
Sam Craigie 5-2 Liam Pullen
He Guoqiang 5-1 Mark Williams
Graeme Dott 5-2 Ashley Carty
Andrew Higginson 2-5 Xu Si
Mark Allen 5-2 Louis Heathcote
Stephen Maguire 3-5 Joe O’Connor
John Higgins w/o Martin Gould
Zhou Yuelong 5-0 Tian Pengfei
Jamie Clarke 5-2 Scott Donaldson
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 5-4 Zhang Anda
Martin O’Donnell 0-5 Matthew Selt
Matthew Stevens 3-5 Judd Trump
Julien Leclercq 5-3 Ken Doherty
David Gilbert 2-5 Jordan Brown
Robert Milkins 5-2 Robbie Williams
Ryan Day 5-3 Oliver Brown
Andrew Pagett 5-3 Chris Wakelin
Aaron Hill 1-5 Yuan Sijun
Mark Joyce 1-5 Si Jiahui
Alfie Davies 5-1 Marco Fu
Neil Robertson 5-0 Jimmy Robertson
Joe Perry 5-1 Xing Zihao
Kyren Wilson 5-1 Ben Woollaston
Ricky Walden 4-5 David Lilley
Xiao Guodong 1-5 Tom Ford
Mark Davis 5-1 Barry Hawkins
Ben Mertens 3-5 Fan Zhengyi
Liu Hongyu 3-5 Ishpreet Singh Chadha
Round of 32 (bo9)
Ali Carter 5-2 Pang Junxu
Zak Surety 5-2 Elliot Slessor
Sam Craigie 5-1 He Guoqiang
Graeme Dott 4-5 Xu Si
Mark Allen 5-2 Joe O’Connor
John Higgins 5-3 Zhou Yuelong
Jamie Clarke 1-5 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Matthew Selt 2-5 Judd Trump
Julien Leclercq 5-1 Jordan Brown
Robert Milkins 1-5 Ryan Day
Andrew Pagett 1-5 Yuan Sijun
Si Jiahui 5-1 Alfie Davies
Neil Robertson 5-1 Joe Perry
Kyren Wilson 5-1 David Lilley
Tom Ford 5-2 Mark Davis
Fan Zhengyi 5-2 Ishpreet Singh Chadha
Round of 16 (bo9)
Ali Carter 5-0 Zak Surety
Sam Craigie 5-4 Xu Si
Mark Allen 2-5 John Higgins
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 2-5 Judd Trump
Julien Leclercq 2-5 Ryan Day
Yuan Sijun 3-5 Si Jiahui
Neil Robertson 3-5 Kyren Wilson
Tom Ford 3-5 Fan Zhengyi
Ali Carter 1-5 Sam Craigie
John Higgins 2-5 Judd Trump
Ryan Day 1-5 Si Jiahui
Kyren Wilson 5-0 Fan Zhengyi
Sam Craigie 2-6 Judd Trump
Si Jiahui 6-3 Kyren Wilson
Judd Trump 10-5 Si Jiahui
Featured photo credit: WST