January 30, 2018

Berlin Bound – The German Masters

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 4:30 pm

There is no let up in the busy snooker calendar as Barnsley becomes Berlin for the rest of the week and 32 qualifiers head to the Tempodrom (or Templedrum if you are Phillip Studd) for the final stages of The German Masters, a nice tight 32 player event largely over the best of nine frames and covered live on Eurosport from one of snooker’s top venues.

Regulars will know that I’m a big supporter of this event, primarily because it’s held in a city and country that is fanatical about snooker. Germany hasn’t yet produced anyone that is really capable of mounting a real push to the top of the sport and to be truthful, when I went to this the audience was a rather older one than we are used to seeing perhaps at UK venues, but their enthusiasm is second to none and they deserve a big event.

It’s not quite expanded the way I thought it should this tournament. They play routinely to packed houses in a huge arena, but we’re still confined to a multi-table set-up with less than a week to complete it. It would be nice if, in the future, some thought is given to the format and perhaps it be given a little more prestige in terms of prize money. I fail to believe that there isn’t a sponsor somewhere out there that can see the potential of being linked with this event on a long-term basis, but there lies the problem we have in snooker outside China, it’s bookies or bust as things stand.

Anyway, the qualifiers for this were played just before the Christmas break and has produced a real mix of top 16 ranked players and those lower down the list looking to make a name for themselves this week. A strong Chinese contingent is also noticeable in the last 32.

Quarter 1

Three real form horses in this section in Masters Champion Mark Allen, the most recent addition to snooker’s 147 club and 2016 champion here Martin Gould and the veteran Mark Williams. At first glance you’d be plonking one of that threesome in the semi-finals. Up at the top of course is the holder, Anthony Hamilton, who gets the chance to defend his title in the arena in which he memorably broke his career winning duck last year. He’ll need to draw on all his previous here for inspiration in a section which few would expect him to emerge from. Whilst any of this eight could conceivably win this quarter, many will fancy Allen to continue riding the crest of his wave following the win in London, but I’m going to go with a bit of a form horse here and hope that Gould can rediscover this German spark in a venue we know he enjoys.

Predicted Quarter 1 Winner: Martin Gould.

Quarter 2

At any other time, the two names that leap from the page in this section would be Ding Junhui and Judd Trump. But following poor performances at The Masters from both of them, to differing degrees it has to be said, and then just last weekend Judd losing to Jak Jones in the China Open qualifiers, only the bravest would have them lining up in a quarter final duel in this. The common factor with them both seems to be a lack of confidence, though Ding does have a medical condition that he doesn’t seem yet to be over with. Given the doubts about those two it’s probably a good time to have a look at the bigger prices in this section, the obvious one being Joe Perry. But for me this conjures up both Jack Lisowski and Ben Woollaston, both of whom must be high on any list of players that might be the next first time ranking event winner. At the outright prices available it’s worth backing both of them, you are really getting value if Judd and Ding continue as they have been for the past few months.

Predicted Quarter 2 Winner: Jack Lisowski.

Quarter 3

Shaun Murphy’s name dominates this section of the draw and on current form it’s hard to argue with him making the final four. Both Alan McManus and Ryan Day lost in their qualifiers for China, McManus in particular isn’t having the best of seasons. Thepchaiya Un-Nooh can of course be anything from a world beater to a numpty from one day to the next. Dark Mavis seems to have disappeared slightly of late and there is nothing really to indicate that he’s knocking on the door of a semi-final place, similarly Dave Gilbert isn’t playing as well as we all know he can yet this season, though I think if Murphy doesn’t make it through here it will be because he’s found some form. So, unless one of the Chinese players springs a performance out of nowhere, I think I have to stick with Murphy here.

Predicted Quarter 3 Winner: Shaun Murphy.

Quarter 4 

When will our World Champion get going? Mark Selby hasn’t really been Mark Selby this season yet has he? However, but for that kick against Williams in London, who’s to say that he wouldn’t have kicked on himself from there and challenged at the end? But he didn’t, and so far that’s been the story of most of his season. Quite why he can’t seem to get going consistently is a bit of a mystery, he still looks sharp enough in the balls, his tactical game seems as strong as ever, perhaps it is just, as he thinks, that players have been raising their game all season against him to a higher level? He has a very tough opener against Xiao Guodong and then perhaps an even tougher Last 16 encounter with Liang Wenbo. Further up this section it would be nice to see the winner of Dotty and Hawkins take this quarter by the scruff of the neck. Hawkins hasn’t had the best of season’s so far and Dott continues to struggle to string wins together. It’s probably set up for Selby to storm it this week, but again, much like opposing Judd and Ding, it’s probably worth doing the same with him until he gets going, which inevitably he will at some point.

Predicted Quarter 4 Winner: Liang Wenbo.

Recommended Win Bet: Shaun Murphy at 11/1

Recommended Each Way Bets: Martin Gould 28/1, Jack Lisowski 50/1, Ben Woollaston 150/1.             

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