The German Masters 2019 starts tomorrow and here is the last 32 round draw:
Mark Williams is the Defending Champion. This was the tournament that, last year, signaled the return to form of the Welsh Potting Machine. Yes, he had won the Northern Ireland Open earlier in the season, but without facing a single top 16 player en route. The German Masters was different: he had to beat Mark Allen and Judd Trump to get to the final, where he completely outplayed a former World Champion in Graeme Dott. Willo’s last ranking title before the 2017/18 season was … the 2011 German Masters, the first to be staged at the Tempodrom. He had beaten Mark Selby by 9-7 in the final.
The Tempodrom itself is a remarkable venue
Spectators can have a view on all tables and the crowd is usually very knowledgeable and very enthusiast. From a fan’s point of view it’s probably the best venue currently used on the Main Tour. My own experience is that the view is much better than at the Crucible, especially if you’re not the tallest person.
From the player’s point of view though, it has its problems. The “outside” table’s lighting being the main issue. Indeed the tables lighting is not “centered” above the tables”, which results in “uneven” table lighting. One side is darker than the other, and there are unwanted shadows. Also, the tables are quite close to the first rows of spectators, which can be a distraction. In particular, with views on all tables, spectators are not always focused on the one closest to them, wich results in “out of turn” clapping and cheers whilst players are on the shot. Finally, the weather in Berlin can be extremely cold this time of the year. The night Ronnie won it, in 2012, the thermometer slumped to a mighty -20°C … Which means that the heating inside works at full power, resulting in a very dry atmosphere that affects both the table conditions – a lot of statics – and the spectator’s conditions with a lot of coughing!
Anyway … here is a short preview:
The tournament has often had a depleted field over the last years, mainly because the time slot allocated to the qualifiers in the calendar. Not so this time. We have 13 of the top 16 in the last 32 draw. Ronnie and Mark Allen didn’t enter. Luca Brecel failed to qualify.
I expect Mark Williams to face Kyren Wilson in the quarter finals. I can’t see Zhou Yuelong, in the form he showed earlier in the season cause him problems. Joe Perry might do, but I think that Willow will prevail should they meet. Kyren should get the better over Rory Mc Leod, relatively easily, albeit not quickly and neither Peter Ebdon nor Shaun Murphy in current form should stop him. Shaun played very well to qualify, but was unconvincing at the Masters.
My prediction for the QF1: Mark Williams 3-5 Kyren Wilson
Judd Trump seems to have a rather easy path to the quarter finals. I can’t see any of Li Hang, Yan Bingtao or Matthew Stevens causing him problems in current form. Barry Hawkins and Stephen Maguire should win their first match easily. Should they meet, it’s hard to predict a winner … mainly because of Maguire’s unpredictability. I’ll go for Hawkins, but only just.
My prediction for QF2: Barry Hawkins 3-5 Judd Trump.
Out this quarter I expect John Higgins to meet Ding Junhui in the quarter finals. John Higgins isn’t on form, but he typically has the type of game to stop Jack Lisowski. I would love to see it the other way around, but it’s hard. Ding’s main threat is Ryan Day. Ding is the better player, the most complete player of the two, and that’s why I favour him. Ryan Day however can be devastating when on song. I’d say it will very much depend on Ding’s long potting and his ability to get in first.
My prediction for QF3: Ding Junhui 5-2 John Higgins
This one is the hardest to predict; there is plenty of quality in it! Neil Robertson and Stuart Bingham should win their first match and clash in the last 16. Now that’s a hard one to predict, but I’ll side with Neil Robertson. I also expect Mark Selby and David Gilbert to come through their first matches – Gilbert was playing really well in CLS – and, should they indeed win, I think Mark Selby will be the one reaching the QF.
My prediction for QF4: Neil Robertson 5-3 Mark Selby