"We are very pleased to welcome three teams from abroad this year. The international participation demonstrates the outstanding quality of the tournament, fitting a global player like ebm-papst," explains Stefan Brandl, CEO of the ebm-papst Group. Advance booking for the ebm-papst Hallenmasters is on Monday, 4 December 2018. For the first time tickets can be purchased online at www.ebmpapst-hallenmasters.de. In addition, tickets are on sale at Sport Steinbach in Künzelsau. The juniors of sc Heerenveen (U19 Eredivisie) took the court at the 15th annual tournament. Many had recognized the Dutch team as the favorite even after the first few games, but they suffered a bitter defeat in the quarterfinals against the eventual winner, FC Liverpool. All the more motivation for the young players this time around. The team from Liverpool had to cancel because of other commitments, and will not be able to defend their title, but they proposed an English successor in FC Watford. The "Hornets", as the fans call the team from near London, promptly agreed. It will be interesting to see how the young talent from Watford handles the pressure in the hall. England rarely play in a hall, and FC Liverpool struggled initially at the last ebm-papst Hallenmasters, but then improved tactically from match to match. The juniors from FC St. Gallen were the first team from Switzerland to participate. The oldest football club in Switzerland operates under the label "Future Champions of Eastern Switzerland" an extensive youth department, the U18 plays in the Swiss U18 league. The international teams make the indoor tournament even more attractive for the teams from Germany. They appreciate the special family atmosphere of the ebm-papst Hallenmasters tournament and can thus compete with their peers, whom they do not normally meet up against during regular league play. "The tournament is in a class of its own when it comes to organization. Everything is just right. In advance and on the tournament day," commented Edmund Becker, Head of the Junior Performance Center of Karlsruher SC, after the most recent tournament. The second and third place finishers of the 15th ebm-papst Hallenmasters, Fortuna Dusseldorf and Bayer 04 Leverkusen, will also be back in Mulfingen on 6 January 2018. The two meet regularly in the A Juniors Bundesliga West, Bayer currently has the edge. The youth team of TSV 1860 München are coming as well, who also play in the A Juniors Bayerliga, just like the Würzburger Kickers. The youngsters from SC Freiburg and the Karlsruher SC know each other from the A Juniors Bundesliga South/Southwest and are both returning to the tournament in 2018. Karlsruhe is one of the most successful teams in the ebm-papst Hallenmasters, and the team has lifted the coveted tournament cup into the air three times in the past. In 2017, they took fourth place, besting the team from Freiburg, who did not get past the group stage at their tournament premiere. Hannover 96 is joining the indoor tournament from the north of Germany. The competition should certainly keep an eye on Mark Große, one of the top goal scorers in the A Juniors Bundesliga North/Northeast, who moved from Austria to the capital of Lower Saxony at the start of the season. As usual, the field is supplemented by two regional qualifiers, who first have to prove themselves in December at the RBKJ-Cup of SV Mulfingen (17 December 2017) or at the JAKO-Cup of TV Niederstetten (27 December 2017). "Our aim was to bring together top-class teams to the Gerhard-Sturm-Halle, just like every year, because the ebm-papst Hallenmasters is renowned far beyond our home region," explains Christoph Rohmer from JAKO, who, along with his colleagues from the sponsoring/promotion department, takes on the legacy of Karl-Heinz Beck and is responsible for team acquisitions: "In addition, we wanted to acquire new high-caliber talent to the familiar teams from 2017. I believe we have accomplished that goal with Hannover 96 and FC Watford." Unlike the A juniors tournament, where no team has yet managed to win twice in a row, FSV Hollenbach's players can attempt a Hallmasters hat-trick after winning the Regional Tournament on Sunday in 2016 and 2017. On 7 January 2018, they will compete, along with the two national league teams TSV Crailsheim (2017 2nd place) and the FV Lauda (2017 3rd place). The organizing host is SV Mulfingen (district league). Sports enthusiasts from Schwäbisch Hall, VfR Gommersdorf, TSV Ilshofen and TSG Öhringen complement the field from the Verbandsliga, followed by the national league teams SpVgg Gröningen-Satteldorf, TSV Pfedelbach, SV Königshofen and the SV Osterburken, who is participating for the first time. More information is available on the internet at www.ebmpapst-hallenmasters.de