Pagett Wins European Amateur Championship

Pagett Wins European Amateur Championship

Andrew Pagett is set to snooker’s top tier after he defeated Heikki Niva in the final of the 2020 EBSA European Amateur Snooker Championship. 

A former Crucible Theatre qualifier who last featured as a professional in 2015, Pagett becomes the fourth different Welshman to claim the prestigious continental event, in this its 29th edition. Former winners of this championship include Mark Allen (2004), Luca Brecel (2010) and Scott Donaldson (2012). 

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the entry and schedule for this year’s tournament in Albufeira, Portugal was reduced.  

Pagett began his campaign by topping his group without dropping a frame and qualifying for the subsequent knockout rounds. There he dispatched compatriot Ben Fortey 4-2 before eliminating Northern Irish national champion Declan Lavery 4-1 with breaks of 56 and 79 to reach finals day. During the last four, the 37-year-old registered runs of 50 and 57 as he overcame fellow ex-professional Ross Muir of Scotland 4-2. 

In the other half of the draw Niva advanced to become the second player from Finland to reach the European title match, following in the footsteps of 1997 and 2013 champion Robin Hull. On his route Niva ended the hopes of English amateur champion Ben Hancorn and Belgian national champion Kevin Hanssens via deciding frames in the quarter and semi-finals respectively. 

The final brought together the top two seeds from the round robin phase. Looking to gain promotion onto the main tour for the first time, 24-year-old Niva calmed his nerves by taking the opening frame. However, it would be the only time he led as Pagett strung together the next four frames – which included a tie-break finish in the fourth – to move one away from glory. The outsider reduced his arrears when chalking up frame six, but the Caerphilly cueist wasn’t to be denied as he sealed the next to win 5-2. 

Pagett has featured and performed very well on this season’s Challenge Tour, recording an event victory and finishing third in the overall standings. However, he will no longer need to attend the play-offs as this latest triumph ensures that he will be nominated to receive a coveted two-year World Snooker Tour card. 

Preceding this event, exciting Ukrainian prospect Iulian Boiko won the European 6-Red Championship. The 14-year-old progressed through his group and then six knockout round matches, culminating in a 5-3 final success against former world number eight Darren Morgan. Courtesy of the title, Boiko will represent the European Billiards and Snooker Association at the 6-Red World Championship later in the year. 

Earlier in the festival at the Salgados Palace Hotel, the Republic of Ireland’s Aaron Hill completed an unprecedented double by conquering both the European under-18 and 21 categories. The latter rewarded the Cork teenager a debut on the full-time professional circuit. 

2020 EBSA European Amateur Snooker Championship 

Results – from the quarter-finals onwards 

Heikki Niva (Finland) 4-3 Ben Hancorn (England) 

Kevin Hanssens (Belgium) 4-0 Zsolt Fenyvesi (Hugary) 

Ross Muir (Scotland) 4-2 Daniel Womersley (England) 

Declan Lavery (Northern Ireland) 1-4 Andrew Pagett (Wales) 

Semi-finals 

Niva 4-3 Hanssens 

Muir 2-4 Pagett 

Final 

Niva 2-5 Pagett 

Champion Hill Records Unique European Double

Champion Hill Records Unique European Double

Aaron Hill completed an unprecedented continental double after defeating Hayden Staniland 5-2 in the final to win the 2020 EBSA European Under-21 Snooker Championship in Portugal.

Just days after retaining the European under-18 title at the Salgados Palace Hotel in Albufeira, the latest part of Hill’s trophy duo earns him a coveted professional World Snooker Tour card for the first time. He becomes the first player to claim both EBSA junior category championships in the same year. 

The Irishman continued his fine form from earlier in the week, emerging through an entry of over 90 players who were representing 27 different countries. He began his campaign by relinquishing just one frame in the round robin phase, topping his group and qualifying for the knockouts. 

Hill would however endure a scare in the last 32 when opponent Patrik Tiihonen of Finland made a 101 break to move 2-0 up before he strung together four consecutive frames to progress 4-2. The Cork cueist highlighted a run of 97 in eliminating fellow countryman and last year’s runner-up Ross Bulman 4-1 in the last 16 and then dispatched England’s number one ranked under-21 player and national champion Mark Lloyd 4-0 in the quarter-finals. In the last four he ended the challenge of Belgium’s Ben Mertens 4-1. 

Waiting for Hill in the final was Staniland, who was the first Englishman to reach the title match since 2016. Staniland showed nerve to survive a trio of deciding frame finishes in the knockout phase, including victory against Frenchman Brian Ochoiski in the semi-finals. In this the 24th edition of the competition, had Ochoiski advanced, it would have been the first time that a player from the United Kingdom had not featured in the final. 

Staniland was largely confined to his seat for the opening mini-session of the best-of-nine frames final, though, as Hill helped himself to breaks of 59, 69 and 76 to boss his way to a 4-0 lead. The whitewash was averted by Staniland after the break and with an effort of 53 in frame six, he briefly threatened an unlikely comeback. However, despite a couple of wobbles in frame seven, Hill composed himself to get across the line and secure a 5-2 success. 

The 18-year-old joins a roll of honour that lists former champions such as world ranking event winners Mark Allen, Michael White and Luca Brecel. He is the third player from the Republic of Ireland to conquer Europe’s premier youth accolade, following in the footsteps of Thomas Dowling in 1997 – the inaugural edition – and Josh Boileau in 2016. Hill is now guaranteed a place on the sport’s top tier for the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons.  

Elsewhere in the tournament, England’s Sean Maddocks – finalist in the under-18 championship and the WSF Junior Open – bowed out to Ochoiski in the last 32. WSF Open runner-up Iulian Boiko of the Ukraine qualified as one of the top seeds, but his hopes were dashed by Harry Andrew Gosney (England) in the last 16. Winner of this season’s Challenge Tour Event Seven Dean Young (Scotland) was defeated by Julian Leclercq (Belgium) in the last 32. 

Action continues in Portugal with the European 6-Red and Open Championships – the winner of the latter event will also collect a professional tour card. 

2020 EBSA European Under-21 Snooker Championship 

Results from the quarter-finals onwards 

Harry Andrew Gosney (England) 3-4 Hayden Staniland (England) 

Dylan Emery (Wales) 3-4 Brian Ochoiski (France) 

Mark Lloyd (England) 0-4 Aaron Hill (Republic of Ireland) 

Ben Mertens (Belgium) 4-1 Daniel Holoyda (Poland) 

Semi-finals 

Staniland 4-3 Ochoiski 

Hill 4-1 Mertens 

Final 

Staniland 2-5 Hill 

Hill Retains European Under-18 Title

Hill Retains European Under-18 Title

The Republic of Ireland’s Aaron Hill defended the EBSA European Under-18 Snooker Championship after he defeated Sean Maddocks 4-1 in the final in Portugal last night. 

Featuring 70 players from 24 different countries, Hill was the last cueist remaining following four days of action at the Salgados Palace Hotel in Albufeira. The teenager follows in the footsteps of current main tour professional Jackson Page who retained this title in 2018. 

Hill had no issues in qualifying for the knockout stages as he topped his group with four wins from four and crafted the tournament’s highest break of 131. He then dispatched Luis Vetter (Switzerland) 3-1 before dropping no subsequent frames against Liam Graham (Scotland) 3-0, Joe Fenton (England) 4-0 and Ben Mertens (Belgium) 4-0 to make the final. 

For Maddocks it was his second major international final appearance in just over two months after reaching the title match at the World Snooker Federation Junior Open in Malta. The Englishman also went through undefeated, eliminating recent Polish national champion Antoni Kowalski 4-3 from 3-1 down in the quarter-finals and fellow countryman Connor Benzey 4-1 in the last four. 

Looking to avenge his whitewash loss to Maddocks during the semi-finals of the previously mentioned WSF Junior Open, Hill made an ideal start to the final as he compiled breaks of 73 and 55 to take the opening frame. The Irishman doubled his lead and it was looking like he was going to inflict a clean sweep of his opponent when a run of 92 allowed him to move 3-0 up. Maddocks got on the board with frame four but a 50 break helped promising prospect Hill secure a 4-1 victory and once again lift the trophy. 

Elsewhere in the tournament, 13-year-old Bulcsú Révész (Hungary) and 15-year-old Robbie McGuigan (Northern Ireland) finished the groups phase as the top seeds, although Révész lost to Benzey in the quarter-finals and McGuigan bowed out to Joe Fenton (England) in the last 32. The Ukraine’s Iulian Boiko – runner-up at the recent World Snooker Federation Open – lost to Benzey in the last 16 and Dean Young – a winner on this season’s Challenge Tour – also went out at the same stage to Kowalski. 

Attention in Portugal now turns to the lucrative European Under-21 Championship across the coming days where the winner will be offered a two-year professional World Snooker Tour card. 

Results – from the quarter-finals onwards: 

Bulcsú Révész (Hungary) 1-4 Connor Benzey (England) 

Antoni Kowalski (Poland) 3-4 Sean Maddocks (England) 

Ben Mertens (Belgium) 4-0 Madalin Gal (Romania) 

Aaron Hill (Republic of Ireland) 4-0 Joe Fenton (England) 

Semi-finals 

Benzey 1-4 Maddocks 

Mertens 0-4 Hill 

Final 

Maddocks 1-4 Hill

Australia to Host 2021 World Snooker Federation Tournaments

Australia to Host 2021 World Snooker Federation Tournaments

The World Snooker Federation (WSF) and Australian Billiards and Snooker Council (ABSC) are today delighted to jointly announce a new agreement which will see two major amateur tournaments held in Adelaide, South Australia in January 2021.

Following the successful staging of the WSF Junior Open and WSF Open tournaments won by Gao Yang and Ashley Hugill respectively in Malta earlier this year, both mixed-gender competitions are now set to take place next year at the Snooker SA Venue in Adelaide.

Both competitions will be open to all players who are in good standing with their national federation and will offer main tour qualification to the professional World Snooker Tour from the start of the 2021/22 season.

Snooker SA, established by the Billiards & Snooker Association of South Australia at ‘The Venue’ in 2015, houses 12 full-size snooker tables and is based in the heart of Adelaide with local accommodation and amenities easily accessible.

Snooker has a proud history in the region dating back over 100 years to the formation of the Association in 1913 and has seen many great champions crowned including current world number two Neil Robertson, winner of the inaugural SA Snooker Open in 2001.

Jason Ferguson, WSF President said: “Together with our friends at the ABSC I am extremely pleased to be able to announce the next staging of these two highly prestigious WSF tournaments in Adelaide next year.

“This year’s open entry events in Malta proved extremely successful in breaking down barriers, providing opportunity for all in to gain access to the World Snooker Tour. Our new World Junior Open demonstrated clearly that there is a new generation of players waiting to appear in our major televised events. The tournament provides a fantastic opportunity for these players to compete for a world junior title in our sport, many of them also then contesting the subsequent open competition with the world’s best amateur players.

“The World Snooker Federation is going from strength to strength, and to fit with the WSF’s vision of reaching out to all destinations around the world we are delighted to be working alongside the experienced and passionate ABSC team. When staging international amateur events such as these, it is vital we find attractive international destinations for all. Having personally visited Adelaide in the past, I am sure all players along with their families and friends will soak up this wonderful Australian experience by the sea.

“Once again, these tournaments will be open to all and will again provide direct access to the World Snooker Tour, not only through main tour cards, but also further opportunities to compete in prestigious ranking tournaments.”

Frank Dewens, ABSC President said: “We are delighted and honoured to be offered the opportunity to host these two prestigious tournaments. The ABSC together with the Australian Confederation of Billiards Sports are providing our elite snooker players the opportunity to play against the best in the world.  Whilst Australia is at a distinct disadvantage geographically, these tournaments will be bringing the best in the world to Australia and to our region.”

Further information about the tournaments will be made available in due course.

Kowalski Claims Polish Championship

Kowalski Claims Polish Championship

Teenager Antoni Kowalski defeated Mateusz Baranowski 6-4 to win his maiden Polish National Snooker Championship last weekend with an impressive display in front of the live television cameras. 

Following qualification which was held earlier in the season, the last 36 main stage of the competition took place at the Lublin Masters Bowling and Billiards Club. Exciting prospect Kowalski – who reached the last 16 of the recent World Snooker Federation Junior Open in Malta – started his campaign strong, winning all three of his group games 3-0. This included a victory over World Disability Billiards and Snooker competitor Adam Wilk, who also advanced to the knockout phase. 

The 16-year-old continued his assault on the title by making breaks of 51, 80 and 51 to dispatch Jason Wright 4-0 in the last 16 and then producing a 66 during a 4-0 elimination of Michał Kotiuk in the quarter-finals. 

Featuring the four remaining hopefuls, the final day of the tournament was shown live on Polish TV sports channel TVP Sport with an arena specially erected in their studio. 

Seemingly unperturbed by the added exposure, Kowalski extended his perfect record by getting the better of Paweł Rogoza 4-0 with runs of 54 and 100. In the other semi-final tie, 2017 and 2018 champion Mateusz Baranowski also compiled exactly 100 as he ended the hopes of Bartosz Utkowski 4-1.  

The best-of-11 final began with Kowalski crafting another three-figure contribution – a 106 – to take the opening frame, although Baranowski responded to level and therefore inflict his opponent’s first dropped frame of the entire event. 

Kowalski retook the lead with the help of a 77 break but back came Baranowski to sqaure up with a 59. For the first time a buffer emerged between the pair as Kowalski (62 break) moved 4-2 ahead, although once again his rival – aided by a 91 – restored parity. However, Kowalski was not to be denied the trophy as he secured the next two frames to record a 6-4 triumph. 

Organised by the Polish Billiards and Snooker Association – a member nation of the World Snooker Federation – this was the 28th edition of the national championship. Current World Snooker Tour professional Kacper Filipiak claimed the title in 2019. 

Image by Krzysztof Klajn.

2020 Polish National Snooker Championship  

Results from the quarter-finals onwards – breaks in brackets 

Mateusz Baranowski (60) 4-1 Daniel Holoyda 

Bartosz Utkowski 4-3 Bartłomiej Różański 

Paweł Rogoza (54, 66) 4-1 Marcin Nitschke 

Antoni Kowalski (66) 4-0 Michał Kotiuk 

Semi-finals 

Baranowski (53, 52, 100) 4-1 Utkowski 

Rogoza 0-4 (54, 100) Kowalski 

Final 

Baranowski (59, 91) 4-6 (106, 77, 62) Kowalski 

Barrett Wins Maiden Oceania Snooker Championship 

Barrett Wins Maiden Oceania Snooker Championship 

Australia’s Cale Barrett will be offered a coveted two-year World Snooker Tour card following his triumph in the 2020 Oceania Snooker Championship at the Mounties Club in Sydney. 

Organised by the Oceania Billiards and Snooker Federation, a total of 60 players competed for the continental title with representation from the host nation, New Zealand and Fiji. 

Tasmanian cueist Barrett began his campaign by easing through to the knockout phase of the competition after qualifying top of his group with four wins from four. However, he found himself in trouble during the last 32 when he trailed Paul Thomerson by a couple of frames before constructing breaks of 76 and 62 to turn it around and progress 3-2. More routine victories arrived over Ron Tulloch (4-0) and Rob Elsey (4-1), then the 23-year-old overcame experienced former winner Joe Minici 5-3 in the semi-finals. 

Barrett’s opponent in the final was fellow countryman Shaun Dalitz, who had ended the hopes of recent World Snooker Federation Open quarter-finalist and Challenge Tour regular Ryan Thomerson in the last four.  

A keen trophy contest was expected but didn’t materialise. Barrett dominated early on; a run of 54 helped him take the opener before he claimed the next four frames to lead 5-0 – just one away from the title. To his credit Dalitz avoided the whitewash, but Barrett completed the task in frame seven with the aid of a 60 break to confirm a 6-1 scoreline and secure the prestigious championship for the first time. He joins a list of former winners that includes Neil Robertson. 

Hassan Kerde – eliminated by Dalitz in the last eight – constructed the highest break of the tournament with a 120 during the groups stage. 

2020 Oceania Snooker Championship – results from the quarter-finals 

Roger Farebrother 3-4 Ryan Thomerson 

Shaun Dalitz 4-2 Hassan Kerde 

Cale Barrett 4-1 Rob Elsey 

Tyson Crinis 2-4 Joe Minici 

Semi-Finals 

Thomerson 3-5 Dalitz 

Barrett 5-3 Minici 

Final 

Dalitz 1-6 Barrett 

Continental Accolades for Dunham, Turner and Cullen

Preceding the main event at the same venue, recent professional player Kurt Dunham won the Oceania 6-Red Championship for a third year in a row. 

The Melbourne ace emerged through the pack, defeating former world number 18 Dene O’Kane from New Zealand 5-3 in the final. The successful title defence means that Dunham will return to the SangSom 6-Red World Championship in Thailand later this year as the Oceania representative. 

Earlier in the month at the Tauranga Citizens Club in New Zealand, the Oceania Under-21 and Women’s Championships were held. 

Cody Turner (NZ) got the better of Marc Fridman (Australia) 6-1 in the final to win the under-21 title, while Kimberley Cullen overcame fellow Kiwi Nita Clarkson 3-0 to conclude the women’s event.