The World Series event in Berlin has attracted huge audiences of as many as 1,500 at a time, proving that reports of the snooker boom in Germany were not over-hyped.
The annual Paul Hunter Classic pro-am in Furth attracts many top players but the Berlin tournament is the first professional event staged in Germany since the 1998 German Masters.
This leads to one pertinent question: why has it taken ten years to get an event on in Germany?
In fact, it’s so pertinent I’ll ask it again: why has it taken ten years to get an event on in Germany?
Were it not for the World Series, it could easily have been another ten years, despite the huge growth in interest in recent times. Germany does not seem to feature in World Snooker’s plans at all.
Ten years ago, 5,000 people played snooker regularly in Germany. Today, that figure has quadrupled to 20,000.
Television audiences on German Eurosport have risen for each World Championship since 2003.
In one week of this year’s Crucible event the top ten rated programmes were all snooker.
What impressed me about the packed house yesterday was how fair the spectators were.
Of course many if not most of them were hoping the local wildcards would spring an upset but they warmly applauded John Higgins, Graeme Dott, Stephen Maguire and Shaun Murphy.
Put simply, they just wanted to see top class snooker close-up. The World Series has given them this chance.
Lasse Munstermann was the only local player who came close to causing a shock but failed to take his chance to beat Higgins and lost 4-3.
This raises an interesting quandary for the World Series organisers. Some felt the local aspect of this new innovation was one of its plus points but in fact most first round contests so far have been a series of mismatches.
It’s true that Gary Britton beat Ken Doherty in Jersey and Munstermann gave Higgins a scare but, unsurprisingly, most of the wildcards have been overawed and outclassed.
It is hard to see how the Moscow and Warsaw wildcards will not suffer similar fates.
However, this is not a criticism. The large crowds in Berlin were in part for the local players and I’m sure German snooker fans are grateful that the World Series has come to town.
Snooker tournaments should go to places where the game is popular.
There are few places in which it is as popular as Germany.