The last day of the 2021 German Masters qualifiers saw more top players exit the tournament before the television stage. The biggest “casualty” was the recently crowned Champion of Champions, Mark Allen. This means that only seven of the top 16, and only Judd Trump from the top 5, will make the trip to the Tempodrom … if, indeed, it is the Tempodrom and not Milton Keynes again. None of the German, or German speaking , players made it either, which is a shame. With two round of qualifiers it’s almost impossible to hold first round matches over to the main venue. It is a bit of a logistic nightmare.
Sharp Pang Upsets Allen
World number 109 Pang Junxu scored a shock 5-2 win over Mark Allen in the final qualifying round of the BetVictor German Masters.
Allen played superb snooker to win the Champion of Champions just six days ago, but couldn’t replicate that form and was outplayed by China’s 20-year-old Pang, who is playing his debut season on the pro tour. He goes through to the last 32 for the final stages which run from January 27 to 31.
Breaks of 81 and 101 gave Allen a 2-1 lead, but Pang then took four frames in a row with top breaks of 121 and 72.
John Higgins made top breaks of 69 and 70 in a 5-0 win over Ashley Hugill while Masters champion Stuart Bingham top scored with 92 in a 5-2 win over Ricky Walden.
Jack Lisowski fired runs of 56, 89, 97, 78 and 64 as he beat Brandon Sargeant 5-2. Joe O’Connor scored an impressive 5-4 win over Anthony McGill, from 3-1 and 4-3 down. O’Connor compiled runs of 102, 52, 72, 83 and 73.
Robbie Williams trailed Martin O’Donnell 4-2 and by 52 points in frame seven, but took that one with a 74 clearance and added the next two frames for a 5-4 success.
Zhou Yuelong eased to a 5-0 win over Peter Devlin while Luca Brecel top scored with 90 in a 5-2 defeat of Andrew Higginson.
Germany’s Simon Lichtenberg missed out on the final stages of his home event as he lost 5-2 to Fergal O’Brien
Pang again showed a lot of maturity for a 20 years old rookie. He was calm, composed and efficient. Mark Allen looked a bit despondent, especially after the MSI. In the 5th frame, he conceded with his opponent still at the table in a break. In the next, Pang broke down leading by 72, with still five reds on the table and the black on its spot; Mark Allen stayed in his chair. In the last, Mark’s body language, whilst sat in his chair, was that of someone who can’t wait to get out of there. That said, he did not leave the arena before he had the opportunity to congratulate his young opponent. Bad day in office, I suppose… it happens to everyone of us.
I only saw three frames of the Higgins v Hugill match, the first and the last two. Higgins did find some fluency in the last one I watched, the one after the MSI. But the other two were a bit bizarre, particularly the fourth frame of the match. Both frames were close, involving a lot of excellent safeties, from both players. But whenever one of them got an opportunity they struggled to string three pots together.
Joe O’Connor is steadily evolving into a very solid, dependable player. I wouldn’t be surprised if he started challenging for titles in the next couple of seasons.