The second ranking tournament of 2024 begins on Monday when the qualified players head to Berlin for one of the most popular stopping points on the circuit as the German Masters gets played out inside the Tempodrom.
Ali Carter certainly enjoyed his week in the German capital last year when he rushed to the title and he will be in Berlin once again this time around looking to make a successful defence of the crown which shot him back into the big time.
2023 – Ali Carter
2022 – Zhao Xintong
2021 – Judd Trump
2020 – Judd Trump
2019 – Kyren Wilson
2018 – Mark Williams
2017 – Anthony Hamilton
2016 – Martin Gould
2015 – Mark Selby
2014 – Ding Junhui
We have a different format in the main draw this week as there is an extra round added to the tournament. All matches up to and including the quarter finals will be the best of nine frames and take place between Monday and Friday. Those who make it to the semi-finals on Saturday will compete over the best of 11 frames and then the champion will be crowned on Sunday when the finalists face off across two sessions and the best of 19 frames.
This is one of those events where the defending champion is the number one seed which means that Ali Carter will head up the top quarter this week. He has to come through his held over qualifying round to make it into the main draw but he’ll head the bracket if he does that. Jack Lisowski was due to be a top 16 player in this quarter but he bit the dust in qualifying. That leaves Mark Williams and Shaun Murphy, who also needs to come through a held over qualifier, as top 16 players in the section.
This quarter has opened up a touch in the run up to the event as Hossein Vafaei has had visa issues and had to pull out so there aren’t as many dangers in the unseeded fraternity as there might otherwise have been. Pang Junxu would definitely be one who is while the former world champion Graeme Dott can still be a pain to the big boys. Michael White and Sam Craigie are certainly capable challengers while Alexander Ursenbacher will want to go well in a continental event.
Mark Allen has never won this tournament but I would imagine it will be one which he wants to get onto his CV and he will look to do that from the second quarter this week. He has a held over qualifying match to come through to take his place in the main draw while Judd Trump is slated to be his quarter final opponent. Trump also needs to win through a qualifying match to be in the main draw. If either or both get there they will see John Higgins and Zhang Anda as the other top 16 players in this part of the draw.
Unlike in the top quarter there are some dangerous unseeded players in this section, quite a few of them actually. Zhou Yuelong would probably be the best of them but both Stephen Maguire and Matthew Selt have won ranking tournaments in the past and line up in this section. Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, Joe O’Connor and Matthew Stevens are all more than capable of deep runs. Jamie Clarke, Scott Donaldson and Martin O’Donnell are competent challengers as well.
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Ronnie O’Sullivan was due to go in search of a third straight title in 2024 from the third quarter but as he hinted after The Masters he has withdrawn from the tournament which opens this part of the draw right up. It leaves Mark Selby as the main challenger in this section with the only other top 16 player in the section being Robert Milkins because Ding Junhui was beaten in a controversial qualifying match.
This is another quarter where there are plenty of dangers from the unseeded band of players. The highest ranked among them is Ryan Day while Chris Wakelin is looking to build on a good 12 months or so for him. World Championship semi-finalist Si Jiahui is also in this quarter while Marco Fu looked in fantastic touch in the Welsh Open qualifying last week. Dave Gilbert and Jordan Brown both have previous ranking event successes under their belt while Robbie Williams, Yuan Sijun and Ken Doherty are lively contenders.
The bottom quarter looks juicy this week with the world champion Luca Brecel heading up the quarter assuming he wins his held over qualifying match. He will be eager to go well on continental soil and could end up facing Neil Robertson in the quarter final if the Australian comes through his held over qualifying match and makes it into the main draw. Kyren Wilson and Barry Hawkins, the latter already a winner in Germany this season, will be out to stop that from happening.
Tom Ford is on the fringes of the top 16 and a good run here could get him in with the World Championship fast approaching. Ricky Walden is another in that boat while Joe Perry is in need of a big week as he loses his Welsh Open ranking points from winning that event next month. Xiao Guodong, Ben Mertens, Fan Zhengyi and Liu Hongyu are overseas players who will be looking for a big run here while Jimmy Robertson and Ben Woollaston will be keen to find some form.
Shaun Murphy has never got his hands on this title but it is a tournament that means an awful lot to him because his former manager was the one who created it so I’m sure he will be keen to get his hands on the trophy before he retires, whenever that day comes. Murphy might also be glad to get onto the baize after he created a bit of noise with comments he made regarding prize money being paid last week. The draw isn’t too bad for Murphy either. I think he has a relatively smooth path to the last 16 but even Mark Williams and Ali Carter aren’t the hardest challenges leading to a semi-final. With plenty of motivation and no shortage of ability, as we saw at The Masters, I think 12/1 on Murphy could soon look big.
In the other half of the draw I think Si Jiahui could be a big price at 66/1. It is wide open in the bottom half with Ronnie O’Sullivan out of the equation and I think the Chinese star could quickly make his way through the draw. He would have to overcome Mark Selby but that might be his only real test for a long while in this tournament. Si might think that he is free rolling in this event having been 4-0 down in qualifying only to turn it around and a win over Stephen Maguire in Welsh Open qualifying last week was eye-catching, particularly as he made a 50 break in every frame he won. We saw in Sheffield that when Si gets on a roll and a run of form he can be extremely dangerous and at a very big price in the weaker half of the draw I’ll pay to see if those boxes get tipped this week.
Back S.Murphy to win German Masters (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 13.00 with William Hill (1/2 1-2)
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Back S.Jiahui to win German Masters (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 67.00 with Sky Bet (1/2 1-2)