After 9 days of qualifiers, for a 5 days short tournament, we now have line-up for the 2022 German Masters to be played in Berlin next January:
Judd Trump vs Gao Yang
Anthony McGill vs Zhou Yuelong
Tom Ford vs Stephen Maguire
Zhao Xintong vs Mark Williams
Kyren Wilson vs Jimmy Robertson
Michael Georgiou vs Craig Steadman
Zhang Anda vs Luca Brecel
Ricky Walden vs Neil Robertson
Andrew Higginson vs Liang Wenbo
Liam Highfield vs Fan Zhengyi
Lyu Haotian vs Mark Allen
Kurt Maflin vs Shaun Murphy
Noppon Saengkham vs Ryan Day
Sam Craigie vs Ken Doherty
David Gilbert vs Yan Bingtao
Barry Pinches vs Mark Selby
Six members of the top 16, didn’t “make” it: Ronnie, John Higgins, Stuart Bingham, Ding Juihui, Barry Hawkins and Jack Lisowski.
To me the biggest “upset” in that list is not Ronnie, but John Higgins.
It had been apparent already in Belfast that Ronnie wasn’t in the best place mentally and Hossein Vafaei is a real top player when at his best. Hossein’s problem is that he lacks consistency. I wasn’t expecting a whitewash, but I knew that a defeat for Ronnie was a real possibility, especially in the lonely qualifiers environment.
On the other hand, I didn’t expect John Higgins, who had been at his frightening best in Belfast, to lose in the first round to Noppon Seangkham. Noppon had been struggling badly for months, and although signs of improvement where there, I expected John to have far too much for him.
Ding was playing competitively for the first time since the World Championship in April and, therefore, I never expected him to make it through to the Tempodrom.
Now looking at the “main draw”, we have some very interesting matches to look forward to, and I have put my “picks” in blue.
We have one amateur in the main draw: Michael Georgiou. Michael is a much better player than his professional results suggest, and not having to worry about rankings seems to have given him the “freedom” he needs to be able to bring his best game at the table.
Also in this main draw are Andrew Higginson and Liang Wenbo, two excellent players who have gone missing for quite some time but seem to play well again. It’s easy to forget that Liang Wenbo is a ranking event winner; he won the first “Home Nation” English Open in 2016, beating Judd Trump in the final. Andrew Higginson, who was once ranked 18th in the World, was runner-up to Neil Robertson in the 2007 Welsh Open; the final went to a deciding frame and Andrew had made a 147 earlier in that tournament. Andrew also won a PTC in 2011, beating Johm Higgins in the final. It’s good to have them back. One of them will make it to the last 16, as they are set to play each other.