The German Masters, now in its third year, is a real high point of the snooker season.
This is because of one thing: the atmosphere. The Tempodrom in Berlin is perhaps the best venue since the old Wembley Conference Centre and German snooker fans lap up every single minute, enthusiastic but respectful of what they are watching.
The old Field of Dreams maxim - if we build it, they will come - doesn’t work everywhere but snooker is extremely popular in mainland Europe thanks to Eurosport and it’s remarkably popular in Germany.
Increasingly, it’s not only on TV where German fans can watch the top stars. They have two PTCs and this is the big one.
This year’s event will be busier than ever due to a tweak in the format. The top 32 came in at the last 64 stage and ten matches have been held over to Berlin. Of the top 16 players required to qualify, only Mark Davis failed to do so.
There are some less familiar faces making the trip. Michael Wasley is a young talent from Gloucester in his first season, who beat Peter Ebdon to qualify.
Fraser Patrick is an amateur but played in the qualifiers because the full quotient of professionals didn’t take their places in the draw.
Martin O’Donnell coaches amid the plush surroundings of the Royal Automobile Club in London and provides the last 64 opposition for Mark Williams.
In addition, there are some players in Berlin who have reached or are approaching veteran status: Jimmy White, James Wattana, Alan McManus, Anthony Hamilton, Dave Harold and Nigel Bond.
The first two stagings of the German Masters produced excellent finals. Williams edged Mark Selby 9-7 in 2011. Last year, Ronnie O’Sullivan produced a great comeback to win a great match, 9-7 against Stephen Maguire.
Again, these matches were better because of the environment in which they were played. Players respond to enthusiastic crowds. It makes a match more of an occasion.
Eurosport’s coverage starts on Wednesday, contrary to what is stated in some listings.
I’ll be in Berlin and am very much looking forward to sampling the German snooker boom first hand.