January 28, 2013

German Masters Preview – Can The Captain Upset the Odds?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:17 pm
We're Berlin Bound

We’re Berlin Bound

Wednesday sees the start of one of the best tournaments of the season as the German Masters gets underway from the Tempodrom in Berlin. It’s covered extensively on Eurosport and is a real gem in the calendar which usually produces excellent snooker in front of sell-out crowds.

It was won last season by a certain Ronald Antonio O’Sullivan and marked the return to the main ranking event winners enclosure for the man who would just a matter of weeks later also coast to victory at the Crucible. He beat Stephen Maguire in the final in what for many was the match of the season last year.

Although Ronnie isn’t back to defend his title there is still plenty to savour as we return to the normal, more comfortable way of things following the loud and raucous hullabaloo of the Shootout, whose champion Martin Gould is also absent having failed to qualify from the flatter structure set-up of this event. Gould was beaten comfortably by amateur player Fraser Patrick who marches on to face Ali Carter here at the venue.

A huge highlight for me is in the very first session on Wednesday as Martin O’Donnell, the current Snookerbacker Classic Champion makes his debut at a full-ranking event venue where he takes on Mark Williams. MJW has been a little out of sorts, at least under normal rules lately so a shock win for our man The MO’D is not completely out of the question against the two times World Champion who won this event two seasons ago.

On a personal level I’m really looking forward to it as myself and Mrs SB are travelling over to Berlin to watch some of it, combining this with a (can I be so arrogant as to say well-earned?) winter break, some Dornfelder grape and some sausages, before we get back on the road for the last two episodes of this season’s Snookerbacker Classic when Martin’s successor is crowned in Leeds on February 22nd, so it’s a busy but enjoyable month for us.

We are also staying in a hotel in Berlin that David Bowie once stayed in apparently, hopefully not when he was on the dogends of his arse and smashed off his face on cocaine in his ‘Low’ period, but it looks nice on the pictures anyway and the reviews seem pretty good from loving couples like what us two are.

Internet connections/Mrs SB’s carefully planned itinerary for us/Hotel house rules and curfews for crackheads permitting, I’ll be posting as many updates as I can from Germany and I look forward to a great if very cold few days there. I’m also looking forward to presenting the tournament chiefs with a long overdue Willie that I awarded them in 2011 for Best New Event and I’m sure they will love their erection, after all they are only human.

The total prize money for this isn’t on a par with some of the more cash-rich betting-sponsored tournaments of late but it still isn’t to be sniffed at for a few days work:

Winner: 60,000 Euros
Runner-up: 32,000 Euros
Semi-finals: 16,000 Euros
Quarter-finals: 9,000 Euros
Last 16: 4,500 Euros
Last 32: 2,750 Euros
Last 64: 1,500 Euros
High TV break: 2,000 Euros
Total: 300,000 Euros

I hope that either this and/or the Paul Hunter Classic PTC can be upgraded to business class in the near future as this is a country that deserves a great deal of credit for the way it stages events and looks after both the players and its public. The crowds are usually fantastic in numbers and enthusiastic in appreciation and I know from the figures in the background of this blog as well as my own personal contacts that snooker is and remains hugely popular in Germany in all regions. Surely the least we can afford them is a week long ranker with more prize money (and longer matches) so come on Bazza, what are you waiting for? The sponsorship and commercial opportunities are there and still largely untapped, it’s not all about the first year’s profits. Maybe they’re just too savvy for good old Baz and the Shootout is the way to go. Hashtag #no

The draw and format of the German Masters can be viewed here.

Now for my outright preview, we’ll do what we always do and take it quarter by quarter, it worked a treat at the Masters and we cleaned up, let’s see how it goes when we revert back to the trickier bigger field.

The Captain: Ready to Fly?

The Captain: Ready to Fly?

Quarter One:

Much has been made of the demise of Judd Trump, but I would say that talk of this is very premature indeed. That said, he has looked far from his best in two of his favourite tournaments; the UK and the Masters after playing so well earlier in the season in China. Some said he looked unprepared, others that the pressure of expectation was getting to him, but he’ll be disappointed with those showings and will want to come here and win to silence the critics. Personally I think it’s a big ask for him and there are players coming into this in much better form than Judd is. He should win his qualifier against James Wattana but then could face Ali Carter, who wanted to play him in York but was denied the chance by Mark Joyce. I like the look of the Captain’s chances in this and news from Team Carter is positive. Further down Xiao Guodong and Kurt Maflin form an unlikely Round 3 tie, those who follow snooker regularly will know that when these two lock horns they generally produce superb stuff. Amazingly, they have played each other 7 times and of those (including the last 4, the other one was 5-3) it has taken a decider to separate them 6 times. Kurt won’t thank me for reminding  him that he has lost the last four deciders and he will want to make amends at a venue, but either way you can’t realistically see either of them winning the quarter. At the bottom of Quarter One is the MO’D’s match with MJW with the winner to play Michael Holt. I’ll of course be cheering on Martin to get the better of his more illustrious and let’s just say ‘close’ opponents and I hope he does. But in terms of a player to win the quarter and kick on, I’m going to stick with Ali.

Recommended Bet: 2 points on Ali Carter to win the German Masters at 25/1 with Apollobet  

Shaun: Loves Vases.

Shaun: Loves Vases.

Quarter Two:

It’s a sign of how hard snooker is to call these days that there are four players vying for favouritism in this event, one of them of course being Neil Robertson, who is many people’s idea of the next multiple world champion the sport will boast. Robbo has a qualifier to play that’s been carried over in the shape of Daniel Wells and then he’ll meet the improving Michael Wasley, but it would be a shock not to see him after the first couple of rounds are finished. If Neil emerges unscathed he will then meet either Andrew Higginson or Stuart Bingham, it’s just a feeling but I think the winner of this match may give Robbo a bit of a shock, either way something is telling me not to back the Aussie in this. It’s the bottom section of the draw that I am going to concentrate on for a bet and this for me is the type of event suited to Shaun Murphy, it’s not too long and there is always something going on. He looks ready to win, he has done now for a couple of months and this might be the place he does it, he made the semi-finals here last year so likes the venue and I can’t believe he will go the season without winning a ranking event, he’s playing too well for that to happen. This is his chance and although Ali has stolen the headline, if they meet in the semi-finals I’d probably plump for Shaun to win.

Recommended Bet: 2 points on Shaun Murphy to win the German Masters at 16/1 with Apollobet

Burnett: Huge Price.

Burnett: Huge Price.

Quarter Three:

This isn’t the quarter that I think we’ll see the winner emerge from, I have slight doubts about John Higgins at the moment and I can’t put my finger on why that is. He looks as determined as ever but in both the UK and the Masters he’s not really delivered when pushed, which is very unlike him. I remember when Stephen Hendry started to lose his killer edge it was around the same time that he started practicing on his own at home rather than ‘going to work’ at a club. John has recently done the same thing and as their careers have always been about winning you wonder if the same might be beginning to happen to him. Ricky Walden, Ken Doherty and Marco Fu are there to try and stop John in the top section and though he may coast through, I’d say Fu on current form is his main danger. Stephen Maguire is also in this quarter but I am sensing a mid-season lull descending over him and whilst there is also the likes of Mark King and Matthew Stevens sitting in there I reckon a better proposition in the each way market at a huge price is Jamie Burnett. He’s more than capable of holding his own in this company particularly as he’ll probably be playing on outside tables which have more of a qualifiers feel to them until, depending on who gets through the match he’ll have to win his quarter. The price alone raises an eyebrow on a player that has made a PTC final this season and has done well in main ranking events on several occasions.

Recommended Bets: 1 point on Marco Fu to win the Quarter at 8/1 with Apollobet and 1 point on Jamie Burnett to win the Quarter at 12/1 with Apollobet. 0.5 point each way on Burnett to win the German Masters at 125/1 at Skybet.

Ding: A nod's as good as a wink.

Ding: A nod’s as good as a wink.

Quarter Four:

Many will see this as a great chance for Mark Allen to lift a ranking event trophy this season and you have to say that the draw has been kind to him up to the quarter finals. He is best priced 14/1 at Apollobet and I wouldn’t put anyone off that if they fancy a punt on the Pistol as I’d be very surprised if he didn’t make the quarter final stages of this. But then comes the tricky bit, as in the bottom section of quarter four lurks the tournament favourite and world number one Mark Selby, who is looking to continue his spell of dominance having captured both the UK and the Masters along with the heart of his bank manager. There is no doubting that Selby is now the man to beat in snooker, he has his critics but he gets the job done and is a winner. In the UK winners aren’t always that popular so he’s probably picked the wrong place to be born (which is also responsible for his slightly inaccurate nickname) he’d have been better off being German. But the player I like in this section is also a winner, who was within an inch of having a great run in the Masters and that’s Ding Junhui, he’s another like Murphy that is playing himself into form after a shaky start to the season. I think it’s him who will put an end to Selby’s run and then go on and take the quarter, his price remains very attractive given the form he’s in and the reason I’d stake more on him is that once he gets on a roll to a final he is very hard to stop and difficult to oppose.

Recommended Bet: 3 points on Ding Junhui to win the German Masters at 14/1 with Apollobet.       

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