Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Back in Germany

If the Shootout didn't get your snooker tastebuds tingling then the German Masters surely will.

It's time to switch back to 'proper snooker' and a trip to Berlin for a tournament which is rapidly becoming one of the most eagerly anticipated on the entire calendar.

This is the third year in a row that we have visited the Tempodrom and never have we been disappointed. The atmosphere is always first class.

Credit for this must go to Barry Hearn, who has an abundance of common sense and so, always does the simple things well. He identified a market with a thirst for the game, so took a ranking event there. Unsurprisingly, it has been a roaring success.

The Germans are yet to produce a top player in the professional ranks of the game, but when it comes to fans who have the passion, they really take some beating.

Credit for this emerging snooker market goes to Eurosport. Their unrivalled coverage of the game has played a huge role in feeding the early hunger of those on the continent.

But the German public has proved it's not just content with watching the baize on the TV. The turnout for their two PTC events this season was commendable. But this is their big one. You'll see more sell-out crowds at the German Masters this week. And surely it is only a matter of time before the event becomes even more prestigious.

To assess the true importance of an event, it's often sensible to look back at the impact of the finals. In the past two years, the German Masters has hosted two of the finest.

Mark Williams beat Mark Selby in 2011 with the crowd's reaction to the players as they came into the arena voted the moment of the 2010/11 season.

A year ago Ronnie O'Sullivan masterminded a superb comeback against Stephen Maguire in one of the best matches of the 2011/12 season. This proved to be the catalyst for Ronnie to go on to claim his fourth world title.

What is waiting for us this year in Berlin?

Who knows. But another chapter in this long season is about to get under way. As always, there will be more talking points, more great snooker and potentially fresh controversy.

The event already gets started with a twist. The deployment of a flatter structure for this year's tournament means the enthusiastic fans will see even more players at the venue than in years gone by.

As well as all the usual top 16ers, Martin O'Donnell, Michael Wasley, Dechewat Poomjaeng and Daniel Wells will are some of the newer faces at the venues, Irish amateur Fraser Patrick has made it to the venue and there are also appearances from veterans such as Jimmy White, James Wattana and Nigel Bond.

Click here to see the full line-up.

Enjoy the tournament.

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