The BildBet German Masters gets underway on Wednesday, with some of the world’s best cueists once again converging on Berlin after two years away due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last year’s German Masters was forced behind closed doors in Milton Keynes, but it is at the iconic Tempodrom where the event has been building in prestige and stature since its inception in 2011.
The 2,500 capacity Berlin venue has hosted the event ever since and has welcomed packed stands full of fanatical snooker supporters year in and year out.
Here is a look back on each of the finals thus far…
2011 – Mark Williams 9-7 Mark Selby
The inaugural Tempodrom final pitted two of the sport’s finest players against each other and saw Mark Williams claim the first of two German Masters titles so far in his career.
Williams, who was ranked 2nd in the world at the time, had led 7-4 in front of a sold out crowd, before Mark Selby rallied to draw level at 7-7.
However, Welshman Williams stopped the Selby revival in its tracks and after claiming the 15th frame, he won the match with a break of 82.
The win was all the more significant for Williams, who had let a 9-5 UK Championship final lead over John Higgins turn into a 10-9 defeat just a couple of months previously.
“I’m really happy with that win, it was a nerve-wracking experience, both in front of that unbelievable crowd and also after the UK Championship,” said Williams. “I was in my seat when Mark was about to level the match thinking ‘Am I going to let another one slip?’ but then I realised that there was little I could do about it and that relaxed me.”
2012 – Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-7 Stephen Maguire
A classic final saw Ronnie O’Sullivan end a 29-month drought without ranking silverware.
The match started with four consecutive centuries, as Stephen Maguire established a 3-1 advantage. The Scot then moved 6-3 ahead, before the Rocket claimed six of the next seven frames to win a thriller.
The victory came at a time when O’Sullivan’s place in the world’s top 16 was under threat. However, he managed to keep his place at snooker’s top table and a few months later he claimed the fourth of his six World Championship victories to date.
“It was a fantastic match and a brilliant atmosphere – all credit to Stephen because he’s a top player,” said O’Sullivan. “I had been thinking about whether I would ever win another ranking title.
“I was 4-0 down in the first round but won that and ended up getting a victory. I’m still not sure of my top 16 place but for now I can enjoy this one. I’m pleased to be competing again, giving it my best and able to have moments like this. It’s a great moment, regardless of whether I will be in Sheffield.”
2013 –Ali Carter 9-6 Marco Fu
Ali Carter battled back from behind to beat Hong Kong’s Marco Fu in the first of his two German Masters finals to date.
The Captain had trailed 5-3 after the opening session, but a brilliant burst at the start of the evening saw him assume control of the tie. Carter prevented Fu from potting a ball for 86-minutes, as he secured a 6-5 advantage.
From that point Fu drew level at 6-6, but it was to no avail as Essex cueman Carter claimed a further three on the bounce to secure victory.
“It was tough out there tonight,” said Carter. “Marco struggled a bit. We were both keen to put on a good show for the crowd, and I’m delighted to come out the winner at the end of the week.
2014 – Ding Junhui 9-5 Judd Trump
Ding Junhui continued one of the finest periods of his career with a comprehensive defeat of Judd Trump in Berlin.
It was a fourth ranking title of the campaign for the Chinese number one, who proceeded to claim the China Open and make it five victories for the season.
Trump had led 4-2 in the early stages, but after losing a pivotal seventh frame, Ding produced a break building blitz, scoring 460 points without reply.
That moved him 7-4 ahead and he maintained his lead to get over the line and secure the 9-5 victory.
Ding said: “I just hope I can keep this form going for the rest of the season. I am working well in practice. I can’t do well in every tournament, I would like to win all of them but it’s not possible, so I have to decide which ones to play in.”
2015 – Mark Selby 9-7 Shaun Murphy
Mark Selby won his first ranking title since claiming a maiden Crucible crown at the 2014 World Championship. The Jester from Leicester edged a hard fought final with Shaun Murphy.
Selby’s preparation for the event wasn’t ideal. He flew straight from Shanghai to Berlin for his first round match, having spent the week prior reaching the final of a Chinese 8-ball pool competition.
Selby had trailed 5-2 at one stage, but took seven of the next nine frames to seal a first tournament win at the Tempodrom
“Coming here from China, I wasn’t expecting much,” said Selby. “I always believe I can win, but with the fatigue I knew it would be difficult and I had to show a lot of character. Maybe that took pressure off me, but I was cursing myself because I knew if I lost I would only have myself to blame. It’s hard to believe I’m standing here having won the title.”
2016 – Martin Gould 9-5 Luca Brecel
Martin Gould secured a momentous first ranking title of his career with victory at the Tempodrom.
It was a case of third time lucky for the Pinner Potter, who had lost his previous two ranking final appearances at the 2011 Players Championship and the 2015 Australian Open.
Brecel would have to wait for his maiden ranking crown, but did go on to land a huge first win a year later at the 2017 China Championship and of course added a second at this season’s BetVictor Scottish Open.
“It’s great to get the monkey off my back and win my first ranking title,” said Gould. “I struggled early in the match today and felt some pressure because I knew I was the higher ranked player so perhaps I was expected to win. I managed to go 3-1 up and that settled me down. I made a few mistakes but bounced back well. It was just a wonderful feeling to get over the line.
“My arm was shaking when I potted the last couple of balls. When I was back in my chair I kissed my finger and pointed up to the sky for my mum (who died 12 years ago). I’m sure she’s up there now and she’ll be so happy and having a whisky tonight.”
2017 – Anthony Hamilton 9-6 Ali Carter
Anthony Hamilton ended a 26-year wait for ranking silverware with an emotional win over Ali Carter in the final.
Carter had led 5-2, before a tremendous fightback from Hamilton saw him win seven of the next eight frames.
It was Hamilton’s third ranking final and first for 15 years, having lost at the 1999 British Open to Fergal O’Brien and at the 2002 China Open against Mark Williams, when he crumbled under pressure and squandered an 8-5 lead. This time, he showed admirable composure when the winning line came into view.
“It’s crazy to win a tournament when I’ve stopped thinking about how to do it,” said Hamilton, a four-time Crucible quarter-finalist. “I stopped wanting it so badly and that took the pressure off. It just feels strange to win another match and now I’m sitting here with a trophy. I’ve struggled for most of this week, but then found some form at the end from absolutely nowhere. I couldn’t pot a ball up until tonight, then played the best snooker of my life.
“I’ve had some nice words from the players this week, especially Mark Selby, he was texting me saying he wanted me to win. I felt some support from the crowd today because I hadn’t won a title before and maybe that put some pressure on Ali.”
2018 – Mark Williams 9-1 Graeme Dott
Mark Williams crushed Graeme Dott to win the 20th ranking title of his career.
Williams’ second German Masters victory came just months before he would go on to win a third Crucible title, with a thrilling 18-16 World Championship final defeat of John Higgins.
It was a second ranking title of the season for the Welshman, who had already lifted silverware at the Northern Ireland Open. Williams had also become Six Red World Champion earlier on in what was a tremendous 2017/18 campaign.
“I’m over the moon,” said Williams. “I hadn’t won a tournament for donkeys’ years, now I’ve won three this season. My long potting was very good today and I played well all the way through. I felt zoned in from the start. I kept on going for my shots and felt at ease.
“I was genuinely thinking about giving it up after last season. I told my wife that I’d had enough and I couldn’t keep playing the same way. She was the one who talked me out of it, and what a turnaround it has been.
“It will be the best I have felt going into the World Championship for many years, I will have loads of confidence. Whether I can win it again remains to be seen – it is so long and so hard to win. But I’m really looking forward to it now.”
2019 – Kyren Wilson 9-7 David Gilbert
Kyren Wilson had to come from behind in a final which swung one way then another, before the Warrior embarked on a critical four-frame burst.
David Gilbert, who was seeking the first ranking title of his career, had trailed 5-3 after the first session, but turned the match on its head to establish a 7-5 lead.
However, he failed to register another frame as Wilson stormed over the line with four on the bounce to claim the third of his four ranking titles to date.
“It was a fantastic final with lots of big breaks and good safety,” said Wilson, whose first ranking title came at the 2015 Shanghai Masters. “We put on a good show for the German fans. I have always been a fighter and I dug in deep from 7-5 down. I felt it might be difficult for David to close it out because he has not won a title before.
“This is one of the biggest events outside the Triple Crown because we play in front of 2,500 people. I feel at home and relaxed here and that’s when my best snooker comes out. The atmosphere makes is so special.”
2020 – Judd Trump 9-6 Neil Robertson
World number one Judd Trump claimed the German Masters title for the first time, beating Neil Robertson in a hard fought Berlin final.
It was a fourth ranking title in a record breaking season for Trump, who went on to amass six across the campaign. That is the most anyone has ever won in a single season.
Trump followed that victory up by winning the BetVictor Gibraltar Open, which saw him top the BetVictor European Series standings and pip Robertson to a £150,000 bonus.
Trump said: “They are all special. All the tournaments I enter I want to win, but especially in one of the biggest arenas we play in. When it gets down to the one-table setup here it is very special. The fans are amazing. It is just nice to be able to tick off all of the events I’ve won and hopefully one day be able to complete them all.
“Tonight I was able to establish a lead and I was always in control from then on. I just managed to battle. My safety was good and I scored well when I needed to.
“It was like playing chess trying to figure out my opponent’s next move and put them in the worst place possible. It was very nice to earn the title playing that kind of snooker as well.”
2021 – Judd Trump 9-2 Jack Lisowski
Judd Trump landed the title for a second consecutive season with a comprehensive win over close friend Jack Lisowski.
It was a small piece of history for the Ace in the Pack, who became the first ever player to defend the German Masters title. Unfortunately the event was taken away from its spiritual home in Berlin due to Covid-19 restrictions and instead played behind closed doors in Milton Keynes.
Trump and Lisowski were both coming off the back of missing out on competing at the Masters, having tested positive for Covid-19. They were quick to make up for lost time.
Victory once again solidified Trump’s position at the head of the BetVictor European Series and put him in line for the £150,000 bonus. He would go on to secure this with his showing at the BetVictor Gibraltar Open. He again faced Lisowski in the title match, this time winning 4-0.
Trump said: “It is incredible, another win. It was obviously tough for me and Jack to both miss the Masters. It was nice that we both got to the final in this one. It’s always tough playing against him, being my friend. It’s never going to be as enjoyable as winning against somebody else. It is a game you always have to play your best in.
“I’m enjoying my snooker. Whenever you win, you are always going to enjoy it. It is just important for me to keep doing the right things. I’ve not stopped practising hard. I’ve kept up that momentum. I’ve not rested at all over the last couple of years. I’ve put the work in and am fully getting the rewards.”
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