Rolf Kalb is the lead snooker commentator on German Eurosport and master of ceremonies at the German Masters, which starts at the Tempodrom in Berlin on Wednesday. Nobody has done more over the years to promote snooker in Germany than Rolf through his various roles. We asked him his views about this year’s tournament and snooker in Germany…
How excited are you by this year’s event?
There is always a certain buzz before the German Masters for me. Of course I am happy that Germany manages to stage a full ranking event, and the atmosphere at the Tempodrom is unique. For me it is always a special experience, as I shall not only be a TV commentator but also the MC for the event. I love this task and I love to be in direct touch with the fans (and all the snooker fraternity), but obviously it also adds some pressure. On top I do commentary on all sessions, also available to the on-site audience. So the German Masters will offer tough days for me.
Why do you think so many Germans love snooker?
Well – that is difficult to answer. I think the first reason is that snooker simply is a great game. Germany might have fallen in love with snooker earlier than it did but they didn’t have the chance to watch it. Of course the Eurosport coverage played a very important role in getting the German audience involved in snooker, letting them feel the fascination of the game.
What was your personal introduction to snooker?
While studying at university I worked as a journalist, and in the eighties I took over the job as media officer of the German cue sports federation. In that capacity I became involved in all kinds of cue sports and fell in love with snooker; that must have been in 1984. At that time of course you couldn’t watch snooker on German TV. So I had to get video tapes from the UK to get shipped over for to watch the greats of the sport.
Which players do you enjoy commentating on?
Of course every commentator loves to commentate on a performance like Ronnie delivered when whitewashing Ricky Walden at the Masters. But in fact I have no favourite player to commentate on. I love the variety, the different styles and approaches to the game. I think that is part of the fascination of snooker that the game has so many different aspects.
Will we ever see a German player in the top 16?
I don’t know what will happen in the future, but in the near future I cannot see a German player reaching this level. Millions of Germans obviously love watching snooker, but only a few thousand actually play snooker regularly on a competitive level. So you cannot compare the competitive structure in Germany with that in the UK or China. The difficult financial situation of the German federation doesn’t make things easier.
Do you have a prediction as to who will win the 2014 German Masters?
No clue. Of course there are the usual suspects, but we have so many great players at the moment, all of whom have the quality to win titles.
The German Masters starts live on Eurosport on Wednesday at 9am GMT.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.