BERLIN AND THE TEMPODROM TAKE CENTRE STAGE

BERLIN AND THE TEMPODROM TAKE CENTRE STAGE

Opportunity knocks for the 32 players heading to Berlin this week for the 918.com German Masters at the Tempodrom, one of the more iconic venues currently used on the circuit.

The World Seniors at the weekend provided a trip down memory lane for those who loved playing at the Guild Hall in Preston.

The Crucible will always have more than its fair share of fans as an arena, not least because of the status of the tournament it stages.

And many still lament the passing of the old Wembley Conference Centre, a real bear pit when rammed to its 2,500 capacity.

That is also the full house figure regularly drawn by the Tempodrom for the weekend semi-finals and final, a stage relished by the players that make it that far (not to mention the officials).

It will not have escaped the attention of those taking part that the winners of five of the last six major titles have not made it through qualifying this year.

Having no Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson, John Higgins or Ding Junhui is not ideal commercially and from a box office standpoint.

But having attended every one of the German Masters events since it gained ranking status, if there is a country not so reliant on particular names to shift tickets, this is probably it.

They have certainly got used to O’Sullivan not taking part, as despite the tournament effectively re-launching his career in 2012 with a brilliant success that served as a prelude to a fourth world title, he has only played at the venue in this event twice in six years for a variety of reasons.

The cast list is led by world No1 Mark Selby, the defending champion, world champion Stuart Bingham, Judd Trump and last year’s runner-up Shaun Murphy, who has done much to help promote the sport over the years in this part of Europe.

In addition there are two other former winners in the line-up in Mark Williams and Ali Carter, plus this year’s Shanghai Masters winner Kyren Wilson.

Trump v Carter looks the tie of the first round on paper, while the match-up between Chinese amateur Zhao Xintong, a scourge of the professionals as a wild-card in Chinese events, and Belgium’s Luca Brecel also catches the eye.

Ryan Day has recent form in Berlin, and his contest with recent UK Championship runner-up Liang Wenbo should be worth watching.

And the tie between Marco Fu and Kurt Maflin could be anything including sensational, depending on which of the respective players turns up on the day.

Those taking part are playing for a first prize of 80,000 euros (or £60,831.11 at today’s rates, if we’re being sterling pedantic).

And of course this is the big stage for Rolf Kalb, one of snooker’s great enthusiasts and a relentless workaholic, racing as he does between MC and commentary duties.

As ever, one of the world’s great cities is waiting to be explored between matches, practically dripping with history around every corner. For any snooker fan, there are far worse places to treat yourself to a weekend break.

 The Olympic Stadium in Berlin, used for the 1936 Games, now hosts Hertha Berlin football club

The Olympic Stadium in Berlin, used for the 1936 Games, now hosts Hertha Berlin football club

The 24-hour techno dance scene is not really for me these days…but it, too, is there for those that want it. I’ll be at the currywurst stand enjoying a Berliner Kindl.

The action gets under way on Wednesday afternoon, with the final on Sunday.


Photographs courtesy of Monique Limbos