Finland’s Jani Kananen claimed his maiden Nordic Snooker Championship title last weekend at the Copenhagen Pool and Snooker House.
This annual five-day event brought together top players from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Organised by the Nordic Billiard Council, countries take it in turns to host the championship; this year that honour was with the Danish Billiards Union.
The 40 cueists who entered the tournament were initially split into eight round-robin groups of five, with the top two from each group qualifying for the last 16 knockouts. A player from each nation was put in every group.
Kananen – who is the also the current Finnish national champion – came top of Group G after recording four wins from four. In the knockout phase the 44-year-old defeated Martin Søndergaard (Denmark) 4-0, Chi Voong (Sweden) 4-0 and then Audun Risan Heimsjø (Norway) 4-3 to secure a spot in his first Nordic final.
Sharing the title match with Kananen was reigning champion and home star Daniel Kandi. Also the current and seven-times Danish national champion, Kandi reached his third consecutive final in this event following a 4-2 semi-final victory over Swedish national champion Simon Lindblom. However, in a topsy-turvy final where there was never more than a frame in it, Kananen was not to be denied the glory as he coolly sank the final blue and pink in the deciding frame to triumph.
Norway will host the championship in 2021.
2020 Nordic Snooker Championship
Results from the quarter-finals onwards
Audun Risan Heimsjø 4-1 Suleman Kukka-Salam
Chi Voong 0-4 Jani Kananen
Daniel Kandi 4-1 Esa Kaikumaa
Jim Johansen 2-4 Lindblom
Heimsjø 3-4 Kananen
Kandi 4-2 Lindblom
Kananen 5-4 Kandi
Highest Break: Daniel Kandi (105)
Austria prepares to host its first world professional ranking event in Dornbirn over the coming days, but on the domestic front, the country crowned its latest national snooker champion last weekend.
Held at the KÖÖ 7 Snooker Club in Vienna, 18-year-old Florian Nuessle once again underlined his potential as he claimed the title for a fourth consecutive year; dropping just one frame in the process.
Nuessle began his trophy defence by making breaks of 97 and 50 whilst defeating Andre Strojnik 4-0 in the last 16, he then notched up a quartet of half-centuries when eliminating Mario Bodlas 4-1 in the quarter-finals.
Returning for finals day, the teenager registered runs of 72 and 57 to dispatch Thomas Janzso 4-0 before requiring less than 80 minutes to deny maiden finalist Jerome Liedtke 5-0 in the final, where he produced an incredible performance that saw him rack up breaks of 55, 64, 61, 86, 60 and 67.
A potentially exciting prospect for the future, Nuessle had recently returned home after reaching the knockout phase of the World Snooker Federation Open in Malta earlier in the week.
Runner-up at the 2018 European Under-18 Championship where he lost to Jackson Page 5-3 in the final, Nuessle also made the last eight of last year’s European Amateur Championship. Alongside playing partner Andreas Ploner, Nuessle represented Austria at the Beverly World Cup in China last summer.
2019/20 Austrian National Snooker Championship
Results from the quarter-finals onwards:
Florian Nuessle 4-1 Mario Bodlas
Manuel Pomwenger 2-4 Thomas Janzso
Jerome Liedtke 4-3 Elias Kapitany
Vladislav Arion 2-4 Philipp Koch
Nuessle 4-0 Janzso
Liedtke 4-2 Koch
Nuessle 5-0 Liedtke
Ashley Hugill has defeated Iulian Boiko 5-3 to win the World Snooker Federation Open title in Malta this evening.
The victory sees the 25-year-old succeed Luo Honghao as champion and will also see him earn a two-year tour ticket to the World Snooker Tour from the start of the 2020/21 season.
Hugill was previously on the professional circuit from 2017-19, reaching the last 16 of the Scottish Open and is currently second on the Challenge Tour ranking list having won Event Four in Bruges last season.
The Englishman emerged from a difficult round-robin group which included Junior Open finalist Sean Maddocks and fellow former professional Chris Totten, before winning five knockout matches to progress to the final.
Awaiting him was Iulian Boiko from Ukraine, who at just 14-years-old had lit up the tournament by taking the scalps of players including Sean O’Sullivan and Ross Muir, both among those favoured to take the title.
It was Hugill who would assert himself upon the final in its opening stages, a clearance of 113 and a further run of 56 enough to give him a 2-0 lead in their best of nine frames final.
The attacking Boiko – who earlier in the tournament had dispatched Sean O’Sullivan 3-0 in under 27 minutes with an average shot time of just 13.58 seconds – responded in style by taking three frames in a row, a break of 62 enough to put him into the lead for the first time at 3-2.
It was Hugill’s turn to raise him game however as he countered with breaks of 65, 50 and finally 89 to claim his own hat-trick of frames and seal a 5-3 victory.
“It is an incredible feeling to claim this title,” said Hugill who hails from York. “The thing that made it better was my family being here. It would have been the best day of my career if they weren’t here and to have them here to see it was perfect.
“I felt really calm all the way throughout the tournament. I was most nervous in the quarter-finals against Allan Taylor but I was just in the zone tonight. I felt great, even at 3-2 down I hadn’t made that many mistakes. I just couldn’t get in around the black spot during those frames.
Having left as the last man standing from a high-quality field of over 150 players, Hugill added that he had arrived at the event with confidence and now feels that he is well-placed to return to the professional circuit as a better player.
“I came here both expecting to win and I was hoping to win,” said Hugill. “You don’t come here to lose in the final and after I beat Kuldesh [Johal] in the first knockout round I hardly missed a ball and I knew I was in a good place to win it.
“It was awful not getting through Q School. I had a tough second year on the tour especially and I went into Q School with low confidence and I was devastated to be off the tour. What turned it around was my maximum break at Challenge Tour in Leeds. That gave me the confidence and the belief that I was good enough to earn a living at this game.
“Without a doubt I am better equipped for the main tour now. I have learned a lot more about the mental side of the game, controlling my mind and thinking clearly under pressure. That’s almost more important than your cue action.”
Hugill also had words of praise for his opponent, who despite defeat leaves with a number of new fans around the globe who have followed his progress during the event, as well as the event as a whole.
“He is an incredible talent,” added Hugill. “When his game develops further in respect of shot selection and safety, he can go as far as he wants in the sport and I told him that after the match.
“This has been a superb venue including the TV table and facilities at the Academy where we have also played are fantastic. I am sure that Malta will see some great young players coming through the ranks with those facilities.”
Full information about the WSF Open including results and standings can be accessed HERE.
The WSF Open is now down to the knockout stages following the conclusion of the group stages in Malta yesterday evening.
The prestigious event which has seen over 150 of the world’s best amateur snooker players compete across 38 groups during the past four days is now down to just 76, with the champion set to be crowned on Friday evening.
Many of the most established names have won their way through to the last 76, including local hero and former world number 10 Tony Drago, who will take on former Ruhr Open champion Rory McLeod in a mouth-watering clash this evening (Wednesday).
The highest break of the competition so far has been made by former World Championship quarter-finalist Jamie Jones, the Welshman having compiled a 132 clearance en route to topping his group to set up a match with fellow former professional Steven Hallworth in the last 64.
Other players to have broken the century barrier include Brian Ochoiski of France, home favourite Brian Cini, Ukraine’s Sergey Isaenko, Belgian junior Ben Mertens and English quartet Ashley Hugill, Sanderson Lam, Jamie Curtis-Barrett and Mark Lloyd.
The tournament continues with the last 76 and last 64 rounds on Wednesday, followed by the last 32, last 16 and quarter-finals on Thursday before the semi-finals and final are completed on Friday as this year’s champion is crowned.
Full tournament information is available via https://snookerscores.net/tournament-manager/2020-wsf-open
Gao Yang has defeated Sean Maddocks 5-2 to claim the inaugural WSF Junior Open title earlier this afternoon in Malta.
The15-year-old Chinese talent becomes the first winner of the prestigious new junior event and will earn a two-year main tour ticket to the World Snooker Tour from the start of the 2020/21 season. The competition saw 55 of the best young snooker players in the world aged 17 or under compete over six days to become champion.
Gao, who previously competed at the WSF Championship in 2018 and recently appeared as a wildcard at the 2019 World Open in Yushan, qualified from a tough group in second place before surviving deciding-frame encounters against Scotland’s Dean Young and later his compatriot Yi Ze Wu to progress to the final.
Awaiting him in the final was England’s Maddocks, who starred in the groups dropping just one frame before reaching the title match with victories against Bradley Tyson, Antoni Kowalski, Jovan Todorovic and Irish prospect Aaron Hill.
It was Maddocks who made the stronger start to the final, taking two of the opening three frames to lead 2-1 as he looked to go one better his performance at Q School last year which saw him narrowly miss out on joining the professional ranks.
The fourth frame would however prove to be a key turning point as trailing 54-26, Gao cleared the table in two visits to draw level at the mid-session interval. This would prove to be the start of a four-frame winning run as he hit the front for the first time with a match-high break of 72 on the resumption of play, before adding the next two to secure victory.
The snooker continues in Malta with the start of the WSF Open from tomorrow (10th January), with over 150 players set to battle for the second professional tour card on offer this week. View more information online HERE.