February 2, 2018

The German Masters Continues

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:50 am

Set-up to Fail? The unique table arrangement in Berlin isn’t to everyone’s liking

The unique German Masters continues at a pace today with this being the day where we whittle down the current field of 12 to the final 4, with the four winners from this afternoon’s session having a bite to eat between matches and returning this evening.

But it’s not just this quirk that makes this event different from any other. As ever, lots has been made of the venue itself, with fans gushing about it and its audience orientated and friendly set up. But unfortunately this mass hysteria doesn’t seem to be extending to the players, several of whom have become more vocal in their dislike of The Tempodrom this year.

Having seen the set up first hand I can see both sides of the argument. It is, without doubt, the best place I have been outside of The Crucible to watch snooker. That probably says more about my attention span than the venue itself, but it’s ideal for someone like me who likes to dip in and out of matches making a general nuisance of himself rather than hook onto one in stony silence. In that respect it reminds me a little of the Guild Hall in Preston but more of The Barbican in York, when the multi-table set up allows the audience to hover around visually and sometimes physically when appropriate, taking in the best bits of each match on display.

What is different about Berlin is the way the tables are facing. In the other two venues I’ve mentioned the tables are set up in the traditional way, with a distinct audience behind each one, usually set fairly far back. Here, the audience, some of whom are not watching the match they are sitting next to are almost on top of the players, with the notable exception of the main TV table, which as you can see from the picture above is quite different altogether in terms of location and audience proximity.

It goes without saying that this creates a distraction. It’s fair to say that a lot of the audience members, perhaps in particular those whose only experience of watching live snooker is here, aren’t aware that when they are watching the centre table, there is a match going on right in front of them between players who’d appreciate it if they’d not roar with laughter or start cheering and whistling loudly at the goings-on on the main table when they are about to enter a crucial stage of their own.

It’s led to Masters Champion Mark Allen, who describes his relationship with the event as ‘hate, hate’ to threaten not entering next time if something isn’t done about the set up, he is just one of a long line of potters who seem less than enamoured with this venue. Another problem that is frequently highlighted is the lighting on the outside tables, even to the point where it’s claimed there are shadows over some of the pockets, which is obviously not ideal in a professional event.

The thing is, all this is surely fixable. They have enough capacity, they have enough time, to have just four tables, all facing in the same direction and all with adequate lighting without any discernible upset to the paying public. If the consequence of not doing this is that more and more top players choose to skip this in an already overcrowded calendar then surely this is something the organisers must look into and act upon, or else risk the entire future of the event.

It’s too good a tournament and too good a venue not to give this a go – perhaps a trip to The Barbican with a camera and a notebook, ahead of next year’s tournament is something the event promoters should make a priority. In terms of size, whilst the Tempodrom is bigger, there isn’t that much in it in terms of floor space, which The Barbican seems to utilise the better of the two despite this venue having more room.

Anyway, I thought I’d share those thoughts given that said organisers were kind enough to include a link to this garbage in the official tournament programme. If the set up changes next year, you Germans better be lining up to thank me if I make it back there, though I would be concerned as a recent convert to the Church of Vegan about your sausage intake, they’re no good for you you know.

Here’s what’s going on today.

2pm German Time

Dark Mavis v Ryan Day

Mark Joyce v Shaun Murphy

Graeme Dott v Mei Xi Wen

Liang Wenbo v Xiao Guodong

8pm German Time

Jimmy Robertson v Mark Williams

Ding Junhui v Judd Trump

Mavis/Day v Joyce/Murphy

Dott/Mei v Liang/Xiao

Main image kindly sent on by Sylvia Moeller on Twitter 

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