The 2023 German Masters Qualifiers – Conclusion

This is the draw for the 2023 German Masters

Let’s have a look at some numbers here …

  • We have 12 Chinese players in this list. That’s 40% of the field. There are 24 Chinese players on the tour, that’s about 18% of the tour. The oldest of them is 35 years old; the average age on tour is 34. In fact 9 out of 12 are under 25. It took more time than many expected but definitely the times are a- changin…
  • The oldest player on tour, 60 years old Jimmy White has qualified. He’s a pro for 42 years. Surely that’s explanation enough for this apparent oddity? (Douglas Adams would probably agree).
  • Only 6 of the top 16 will go to Berlin. The season so far has been very start/stop. We have had endless, often soulless qualifiers. Many top players had weeks without competition at times. They are still “cold” in many ways. This isn’t working. The sponsors want the top guys at the main event. It’s even more important when it’s about tournaments outside UK.
  • After two rounds of qualifiers we still have 3 amateurs in the draw. All three have been pros before. In many ways, with no ranking pressure, they are under less pressure than the pros.

Anyway … here is WST report on the last day of those qualifiers

Higgins Sunk By Wells

John Higgins joined the list of big-name casualties in the qualifying rounds of the BetVictor German Masters as he lost 5-3 to amateur Daniel Wells.

Neil Robertson is the only member of the world’s top seven to make it to the final stages in Berlin in February, as Mark Selby, Judd Trump, Mark Allen, Mark Williams and now Higgins have all lost in qualifying matches. And the result compounds a poor start to the season for four-time World Champion Higgins, who is yet to make it past the last 32 of any ranking event.

After sharing the first four frames, Welshman Wells dominated the fifth then made a break of 76 in the sixth to lead 4-2. Higgins pulled one back before Wells clinched victory in frame eight with a run of 63.

Shaun Murphy is also absent from the last 32 line up as he was beaten 5-2 by last season’s BetVictor European Masters champion, Fan Zhengyi. Cazoo UK Championship runner-up Ding Junhui came from 4-1 down to 4-4 against Matthew Stevens with breaks of 59, 72 and 119, only for Stevens to get the better of a scrappy 39-minute decider.

Germany’s top player Lukas Kleckers missed out on his home event as he lost 5-2 to Robert Milkins. Tour rookie Julien LeClercq couldn’t build on yesterday’s victory over Williams as he went down 5-1 to Louis Heathcote, who top scored with 101. Luca Brecel warmed up for the defence of his BetVictor Scottish Open title as he booked his place at the Tempodrom with a 5-2 success against Barry Pinches.

And it’s Leclercq not LeClercq …

2 thoughts on “The 2023 German Masters Qualifiers – Conclusion

  1. It’s a pretty clear indication that the top players don’t like playing in qualifier conditions. The atmosphere is depressing and the tables play differently, in a way which the lower-ranked players are more used to. The top players don’t have their usual advantages and this is reflected in the results.

    Actually, ‘Jumbo’ Zhao isn’t actually on tour, so he’s not amongst the 24 Chinese professionals, but it’s still a record to have 12 Chinese in the last-32. It’s notable that the most successful Chinese players so far this season: Ding Junhui, Zhou Yuelong, Lu Ning and Lyu Haotian aren’t even amongst the 12.

    However, it’s disappointing to see that only Luca Brecel qualified from the continental Europeans. Arnie Ursenbacher, Julien Leclercq and Lukas Kleckers had high hopes, as I’m sure did the organisers. I’m still upset about Simon Lichtenberg’s ‘retirement’. I say this every year, but if I was the tournament director in Berlin, I would be insisting on more top players, and some local representation. If that breaks the ranking system then so be it – it’s irredeemable anyway and snooker will be much better off without it.

    We have 3 amateurs in the last-32, something which is becoming a regular pattern, even though appointing 130 professionals makes this very unlikely. Indeed, they were the only amateurs, after 3 late withdrawals. This whole thing brings into question once again the merits of this rigid tour structure. There are amateurs who can compete, and there are some professionals who, frankly, cannot. Either way, there is room for more than 128 players to be involved in professional tournaments.

    Incidentally, I don’t agree that amateurs should be able to qualify via the 1-year money list, for precisely the reason you (and Shaun Murphy) gave: they don’t have the same pressures as someone desperately trying to stay on tour. This doesn’t actually apply to Shaun Murphy, but the end of this season is going to be an absolute bloodbath, and there are only 8 Q School places this time. The amateurs have several opportunities to qualify which are not open to the professionals: WSF, Q Tour, continental championships.

    It’s important for WST to clarify the situation regarding the 3 ‘Chinese Nominations’. Usually, these go according to the local rankings, which have been disrupted by the lack of tournaments in China. Can these nominations include newly-relegated players? They haven’t been in the past, but the best Chinese amateurs at the moment are unquestionably those who were relegated in 2021 or 2022: Zhao Jianbo, Gao Yang, Luo Honghao and Mei Xiwen, plus those that are likely to be relegated in 2023: Xu Si, Chang Bingyu and Lei Peifan (even Li Hang and Pang Junxu are in real trouble). Liang Wenbo will be relegated, but I suspect he will be ruled out anyway. The fact is, other Chinese players will have had virtually no tournament practice for 3 years so are in no condition to arrive on the professional tour.

    We really must avoid substandard players when it isn’t necessary – there are too many in any case. The tour needs the best players, and in all fairness those players deserve the right to make a living out of the game. It cries out for an objective way to measure players, both amateur and professional.

  2. Something to also consider, with these qualifiers and gaps in the season, there’s quite a few players who didn’t qualify for the Scottish and English Opens, (that are also outside the Top 32 on the 1 year list for the World Grand Prix), that won’t play a professional match for the next six weeks or so.

    Si Jiahui, Jimmy White, Jak Jones, David Grace, Ian Burns, Andy Hicks, Chris Wakelin, Lukas Kleckers, Alexander Ursenbacher, James Cahill, Michael Judge, etc., to name a few.

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