The final of this year’s German Masters will be between Belgium’s Luca Brecel and England’s Martin Gould – and that means there will be a new ranking event winner on Sunday night.
In a tournament that right from the qualifiers saw so many big names take an early bath, it just seemed likely that we might end up here in Berlin.
The pattern of high-profile casualties only continued at the Tempodrom, opportunity knocked, and Brecel and Gould are the players that have taken advantage.
The bookmakers make Gould a marginal favourite at start of play, but in truth they and most others do not have a clue which way this one is going to go.
The 34-year-old Gould, ranked 20th in the world, has played the better snooker this week and can reflect on the scalps of Judd Trump, Graeme Dott, Mark Williams and Ben Woollaston.
Brecel, who is only 20 but seems as if he has been around for ages, had never been past the semi-finals – a stage he reached last season at the Welsh Open before losing to John Higgins.
With all due respect to Gould, who only lost 9-8 in the Australian Open final to Higgins this season, there will be elements within the governing bodies that will be praying for a Brecel title.
With snooker having been so UK-centric in the past, the prospect of a mainland European ranking title winner would be a boon for the game and marketing operation. Brecel, hailed as a child snooker prodigy at 10, has been the big hope for years, Sunday could see that potential start to be fulfilled.
Snooker is attempting to gate-crash the Olympic Games, and the reach of the sport will continue to be scrutinised by those making these decisions. All-English semi-final line-ups at the Masters and World Championship do not speak of a truly global game, despite all Neil Robertson and Ding Junhui’s efforts. A Brecel win would carry huge symbolic power.
Malta’s Tony Drago reached one ranking final 19 years ago, but no Belgian has done so, and no European outside the UK and Ireland has landed a major title.
After his 6-3 win over an exhausted Kyren Wilson, Brecel said: “It is unbelievable, really special – but I wasn’t nervous during the match.
“Of course it is a great honour to be the first Belgian to get to a big final, I hope they support me, and only Tony Drago of Malta got to a final 19 years ago from Europe.
“When you are 16 and 17 and everyone thinks you will win everything, and of course you don’t, it can be frustrating.
“I think I am a big-stage player, but I haven’t actually played that well this week. Clearly it is better to win when you’re not playing your best.”
However none of that will remotely concern Gould, whose only previous successes have come in the quick-fire Power Snooker and Shootout events, and at a PTC event four years ago.
Gould is a fine player and a likeable and interesting individual, who retains a strong self-belief despite some career setbacks, and also the strength of character to do his own thing and not necessarily follow the snooker herd at a tournament.
A win for him would also, as a side note to fulfilling a personal ambition, be another feather in the cap for Steve Feeney’s SightRight team after Stuart Bingham’s world title last year.
Gould, in his 10th year as a professional, said after a 6-2 semi-final win over former world champion Graeme Dott: “It feels great to be into another ranking event final. Since the turn of the year I've done a lot of hard work and it's nice to see that paying off.
“I'm really looking forward to tomorrow especially as I can relax tonight. When it went 5-1 inevitably I had flashbacks to the matches I had lost from that position. But I just told myself to keep calm.
"The first ranking title could lead to many more and I feel that I'm good enough. I've just to get past that final step and hopefully lift the trophy.
“I won't think of myself as favourite tomorrow, I have to take my chances and make sure I don't do anything silly.”
It is going to be a career moment for cherish for one of them, in front of 2,500 fans on one of snooker’s greatest stages.
Photographs courtesy of World Snooker