Mifsud Claims Third Oceania Snooker Championship

Mifsud Claims Third Oceania Snooker Championship

Australia’s Steve Mifsud won the Oceania Snooker Championship for a third time this weekend, some 21 years after he first claimed the title.

A field of nearly 70 entries, with representation from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, travelled to the Mounties Club in Sydney for the most prestigious title the Oceania Billiards and Snooker Federation (OBSF) has to offer. Players were initially split into round robin groups with the top two from each advancing to the knockouts.

Mifsud, who also lifted the trophy in 2014, began his bid by qualifying second from his group. During the knockouts the 46-year-old eliminated former winner and fellow ex-professional Ben Judge (3-1), Ben Foster (4-1), Cale Barrett (4-1) and then ousted number two seed Alan McCarthy (5-4) via a deciding frame.

Awaiting Mifsud was recent main tour professional Kurt Dunham in what would be an all-Victorian final. Dunham was returning to the tournament having secured promotion to the sport’s top tier courtesy of winning it in 2016 at this same venue. The 27-year-old qualified as the number one seed after topping his group without losing a frame. He then continued his relentless assault on the championship in the knockouts, culminating in a 5-2 semi-final victory over former winner Joe Minici.

Mifsud started the final well taking a 2-0 lead, but Dunham recovered to level up going into the mid-session interval. The following two frames were shared, but it was the current and record equalling eight-time Australian national champion Mifsud who was stronger in the closing stages, coming through a 6-4 victor.

As a member of the World Snooker Federation, the OBSF will nominate Mifsud as their candidate for a two-year professional tour card, although it is unclear whether the Australian will accept the offer in any capacity. Mifsud also has the opportunity to compete in the Betfred World Professional Championship qualifiers that take place at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield next month.

Whilst Dunham will be disappointed at losing the final, he can console himself with the Oceania 6-Red Championship he won at the start of the week. Dropping just five frames throughout the entire competition, Dunham defeated Roger Farebrother 5-0 in the final.

Fullerton secures maiden crown

Australia’s Megan Fullerton went one better on her performance 12 months ago by winning the Oceania Women’s Snooker Championship for the first time.

Fullerton qualified second from her round robin group after winning four out of five matches. In the subsequent knockout phase she eliminated Kylie Bellinger, 3-0, and then inflicted revenge by dethroning defending champion Carlie Tait, 3-2.

Her opponent in the final was experienced former winner Theresa Whitten (Australia), who saw off Judy Dangerfield and Annette Clifford in the last eight and four respectively.

There was never more than a frame’s difference between the finalists, but it was Fullerton who eventually came through via a seventh and deciding frame. The New South Wales representative earlier in the competition also made the highest break of 59.

2019 OBSF Oceania Snooker Championship

Results – from the quarter-finals onwards 

Kurt Dunham 4-0 James Mifsud

John Wims 2-4 Joe Minici

Cale Barrett 1-4 Steve Mifsud

Daniel Haenga 2-4 Alan McCarthy

Semi-finals 

Dunham 5-2 Minici

Mifsud 5-4 McCarthy

Final 

Dunham 4- 6 Mifsud

Highest Break Steve Mifsud (130)

Filipiak Claims European Championship in Israel

Filipiak Claims European Championship in Israel

Kacper Filipiak became the first player ever from Poland to win the European Amateur Snooker Championship following a 5-4 victory against David Lilley in the final at the U Magic Palace Hotel in Eilat, Israel on Saturday afternoon.

Organised by the European Billiards and Snooker Association (EBSA), a member of the World Snooker Federation, this prestigious continental event provides a pathway onto the professional circuit and has previously been won by players such as Mark Allen and Luca Brecel. Celebrating its 28th edition, 125 entries representing 33 different nations took part in the week-long festival.

Filipiak, European Under-21 champion in 2011, topped his group after winning all three of his round robin fixtures. Progressing into the knockout phase as the fourth seed, the 23-year-old eliminated Dean Young (Scotland) 4-0, Marcin Nitschke (Poland) 4-2, Ivan Kakovskii (Russia) 4-3, Kevin Hanssens (Belgium) 4-0 and then Greg Casey (Republic of Ireland) 4-1 to be his country’s maiden finalist in this tournament.

His opponent in the final was experienced Englishman David Lilley who was trying to win a second European crown, twenty-four years on from his first in 1995. The North-East maestro had triumphed in the warm-up Israel Open competition that proceeded this, and he continued his momentum at the venue qualifying second from group before navigating his way through the knockouts. In the semi-finals he ended the ambitions of Shachar Ruberg – the last remaining hope for the host nation.

The best-of-nine frame final would be a predictably tight affair. The Pole – twenty years younger than his counterpart – started stronger as he took an early 2-0 lead, although Lilley managed to get a foothold with success in the next. In a close climax to frame four, Filipiak doubled the final pink to re-establish a two-frame buffer going into the mid-session interval.

Lilley responded positively to this setback on resumption of play, stringing together the next three frames to turn the tables and go 4-3 up; just one away from the championship. However, Filipiak treated the audience to a deserved decider when he squared it at the end of frame eight.

More twists and turns would come during a nervy final frame. The youngster got in first but broke down on a break of 36. Lilley went in for the counter-attack, but his effort of 51 fell short of the finishing line with two reds remaining.

After a tense passage of play, Filipiak converted an opportunity when coolly potting yellow to blue to claim the biggest title of his career so far. The win also means that Filipiak has earned a guaranteed two-year professional tour card for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 campaigns.

It will be a return to the sport’s top tier for Filipiak, who burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old after his Under-21 glory. He struggled to adapt to the rigours of the circuit and was relegated after just a year, but with considerably more experience now behind him, he is better equipped to deal with the tough challenges ahead.

Lilley’s initial emotion is likely to be disappointment, but he can still achieve his dream of full-time professional status via the Challenge Tour and the one-year world ranking list in the coming weeks.

Throughout the latter stages of the tournament there was a cosmopolitan palette on display. The quarter-finals were made up of players from seven different countries, including promising teenagers Florian Nüßle from Austria and Patrik Tiihonen from Finland.

2019 EBSA European Amateur Snooker Championship

Results (from the quarter-finals onwards)

Florian Nüßle (Austria) 3-4 Greg Casey (Republic of Ireland)

Kevin Hanssens (Belgium) 0-4 Kacper Filipiak (Poland)

David Lilley (England) 4-2 Patrick Tiihonen (Finland)

Shachar Ruberg (Israel) 4-2 Michael Wild (England)

Semi-finals

Casey 1-4 Filipiak

Lilley 4-1 Ruberg

Final

Filipiak 5-4 Lilley

Highest break of the tournament

Andrew Pagett (Wales), 123

 

Page Captures European Under-21 Championship

Page Captures European Under-21 Championship

Jackson Page has realised his professional ambition courtesy of his dominant victory in the 2019 EBSA European Under-21 Snooker Championship earlier today in Eilat, Israel.

In recent years the talented Welsh teenager has been highlighted by many as one of the hottest properties on both the amateur and youth circuits. Among other titles and accolades, Page won the European Under-18 category in 2017 & 2018 and is the current Welsh amateur champion too. A practice partner of reigning world champion Mark Williams, he also reached the last 16 of the Paul Hunter Classic last summer.

Held in Israel for the first time, this year’s Under-21 event had a cosmopolitan feel to it with over seventy entries from twenty-six different countries taking part.

Page topped his group after winning all three of his round robin fixtures and progressed into the knockouts as one of the top seeds. There he continued his relentless assault on the championship by eliminating Richard Wienold (Germany) 4-0, Attila Horváth (Hungary) 4-0 and Hamim Hussain (England) 4-0 to reach the semi-finals with relative ease.

In the final four Page came up against the Republic of Ireland’s Aaron Hill, the player who had just succeeded him as the new European Under-18 champion at this same venue a few days previously. However, Hill’s hopes of a historic double were brushed aside as he lost 4-0. It meant that Page had reached the final with the loss of just the single frame he relinquished in the group stages.

His opponent in the final was fellow 17-year-old Ross Bulman, who was keeping alive the dream of dual Irish youth glory. Bulman, like Page, had advanced throughout the tournament undefeated. He secured his berth in the final following a 4-2 success over Dylan Emery (Wales) – the losing finalist to Hill in the Under-18s on Tuesday.

Runner-up to Alexander Ursenbacher in this competition in 2017, Page settled down well in the final, opening an ominous looking 3-0 lead with the aid of 63 and 65 breaks. ‘Action’ Jackson also looked poised to chalk up frame four, but a gutsy snatch 34 clearance to the pink by Bulman made the scoreline look competitive going into the mid-session interval.

Page was unperturbed by this minor setback, though. On the resumption it was business as usual as he crafted a break of 57 to move one away before sealing the title in a virtuoso finish with a run of 102 for a 5-1 win. He had also made the tournament’s highest break – a run of 129 – during the last sixteen.

The youngster follows in the footsteps of previous European youth champions such as Mark Allen, Michael White and Luca Brecel. Page is the first winner of this event from Wales since it was rebranded from Under-19 to Under-21 in 2011.

Claiming the championship means that Page has lived up to the widely believed prediction that it was only a matter of time before he broke onto the top tier of the sport. As the European Billiards and Snooker Federation is a member of the World Snooker Federation, he will be offered a guaranteed two-year professional main tour card for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons.

2019 EBSA European Under-21 Snooker Championship

Results (from the quarter-finals onwards)

Wesley Pelgrims (Belgium) 0-4 Dylan Emery (Wales)

Julien Leclercq (Belgium) 3-4 Ross Bulman (Republic of Ireland)

Hamim Hussain (England) 0-4 Jackson Page (Wales)

Aaron Hill (Republic of Ireland) 4-0 Ivan Kakovskii (Russia)

Semi-finals

Emery 2-4 Bulman

Page 4-0 Hill

Final

Bulman 1-5 Page

Alex Sets the Pace in Oceania

Alex Sets the Pace in Oceania

Alex Pace won the Oceania Under-21 Snooker Championship for the first time in his career on Wednesday in New Zealand.

Held at the Havelock North Club in Hawkes Bay, sixteen of the continent’s brightest youngsters took part in this annual Oceania Billiards and Snooker Federation (OBSF) event. Split into groups of four, the top two from each pool advanced to the quarter-final knockouts.

Tasmanian cueist Pace topped Group B after winning all three of his fixtures. He then defeated fellow Australian Denzil Nicholson 4-2 in the last 8 and dethroned defending champion Mario Hildred (NZ) 5-2 in the semis.

Pace’s opponent in the final was another one of the host nation’s contingent, Adam Lilley. Runner-up to Hildred in a deciding frame twelve months previously, Lilley also qualified top from his group with a 100% match record. During his 4-1 quarter-final victory over Cody Turner (NZ), Lilley crafted a 112 clearance, he also came through with change to spare in his last four clash against Sam Martin (NZ), 5-1.

The tone for an intriguing trans-Tasman final was set in the opener. Pace went in with a break of 47, Lilley responded with a 58, but it was the Australian who cleared from blue to a tricky black along the top cushion to go 1-0 up.

The New Zealander’s reaction was a positive one, though. He chalked up the next two to go in front and then bettered his, and the tournament’s highest break effort, when constructing a fantastic 128 clearance in frame four to move two clear at 3-1.

However, the direction of the match changed again. Pace was able to claim the next two to square, and in a tight finish where modest breaks were exchanged, he managed to emerge as a 6-4 winner.

Pace, who was the eighth different winner in as many editions, said: “I’m overwhelmed and just so happy that I was able to get the win in my last year”.

In March, the OBSF, which is part of snooker’s international federation the World Snooker Federation, will hold the mixed gender 2019 Oceania Snooker Championship in New South Wales, Australia, where the winner will be offered a two-year professional main tour card. Before this, at the same Mounties venue, the Oceania Women’s and 6 Red Championships will also be staged.

Photo courtesy of the New Zealand Billiards and Snooker Association.

Results (from the quarter-finals onwards)

Mario Hildred (NZ) 4-2 Kyle Thomson (Aus)

Denzel Nicholson (Aus) 2-4 Alex Pace (Aus)

Denin Bunn (NZ) 0-4 Sam Martin (NZ)

Cody Turner (NZ) 1-4 Adam Lilley (NZ)

Semi-finals

Hildred 2-5 Pace

Martin 1-5 Lilley

Final

Pace 6-4 Lilley

Aaron is King of the Hill in Eilat

Aaron is King of the Hill in Eilat

Aaron Hill became the second Irish player within the last three years to have claimed a European Billiards and Snooker Association youth title following his success in the 2019 European Under-18 Snooker Championship earlier this week.

Held at the U Magic Palace Hotel in the Israeli coastal city and resort of Eilat, this was the first of three events that make up this year’s EBSA Championships. Running until 2 March, the subsequent Under-21 and Main categories will complete a busy programme. It is the first time that Israel has held the championships.

In what was the fourth annual staging of the Under-18 discipline, representatives from a healthy 24 different nations took part – further evidence of snooker’s growing appeal on the continent.

Cork cueist Hill qualified from his round robin group, finishing second behind Hungary’s promising 12-year-old prospect Bulcsú Révész.

During the knockout portion of the competition Hill made breaks of 54 and 57 to dispatch Bradley Tyson (Wales), 3-0, and 60 and 81 in seeing off Iulian Boiko (Ukraine), 3-1, to reach the quarter-finals.

Hill then capped off a 4-1 win over Belgium’s Julien Leclercq with a run of 70 before eliminating number 1 seed Florian Nüßle, 4-2, in the semis with a further brace of half-centuries. Current Austrian National champion Nüßle was the runner-up to Jackson Page in this tournament twelve months ago in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Awaiting Hill in the final was the undefeated Dylan Emery of Wales, who was looking to follow in the footsteps of fellow countrymen Tyler Rees (2016) and Page (2017, 2018) as the only other winners of this championship.

Emery eased through his group without dropping a frame, also constructing the highest break of the event, a 141. That was one of three centuries he would make in total.

He then dispatched Dean Young (Scotland) 3-2 and Nicolas Mortreux (France) 4-2 in the last 16 and 8 respectively. In the last 4 he stopped the possibility of an all-Irish final when he denied Ross Bulman, a stablemate of Hill’s, 4-0.

A predictably close and tense final ensued; Emery took a 2-1 lead with the aid of 54 and 59 breaks, but Hill responded to move in front for the first time and just one away from the trophy as he chalked up runs of 59 and 50.

The Welshman, a year older than his opponent, levelled it up at 3-3, however, Irish eyes were smiling when Hill kept his nerve in the decider as he coolly amassed a decisive 84 break.

The action continues with the Under-21 Championship which concludes this Friday and will see the winner claim a two-year ticket to the World Snooker Tour from the start of next season.

Brazil Back on Tour!

Brazil Back on Tour!

Igor Figueiredo will return to the World Snooker Tour from the start of the 2019/20 season following victory at the 2019 Pan American Snooker Championship earlier this month.

Held at Q Ball Snooker & Pool in Houston, Texas, the event was the first staged by the new continental federation, the Pan American Billiards and Snooker Association (PABSA) responsible for the development of snooker in the Americas region and supported by the World Snooker Federation.

Staged across five days spanning the end of January and early February, the Championship welcomed 48 players from countries including the United States of America, Bermuda and Canada, but it was Brazil’s Figueiredo who entered as the hot favourite to take the title.

Round-robin qualifying took place across the opening three days with the top three in each group advancing to the knockouts.

Figueiredo, who hails from Rio de Janeiro, eased through his section; topping Group A without losing a frame. Along with the seven other group winners, he went straight into the last 16 where he awaited the winner of a preliminary tie. For him that would be Saif Ibrahim (USA), whom he swiftly dispatched 4-0.

In the quarter-finals he faced current and four-time United States National Champion Ahmed Aly Elsayed. Despite dropping his first frame of the week, he progressed as a 4-1 victor. Local Houston player Mark White was next to feel the dominance of Figueiredo in the semi-finals, as he went down 5-1.

Figueiredo’s opponent in the final was Chicago’s Renat Denkha who was also undefeated throughout. Denkha booked his final berth after ousting former professional John White (Canada), 5-4, in the other last four tie.

However, the final would prove to be a step too far for the American, as Figueiredo raced away into a 5-0 lead. Despite dropping the sixth on a black-ball game, Figueiredo was not to be denied as he claimed victory in the next frame on the colours to capture the title, trophy and a two-year professional tour card to commence from the start of the 2019/20 campaign.

Tour return

The 41-year-old is no stranger to snooker fans around the world, having spent six seasons on the professional circuit, most recently in 2017 when he reached the last 16 of both the Welsh Open and Gibraltar Open tournaments. He also reached the final qualifying round of the World Championship qualifiers in Sheffield back in 2015.

Competing as an amateur in recent years he has enjoyed considerable success in international Seniors events, most notably at the 2018 WSF Championships in Malta where he defeated highly decorated Welsh star Darren Morgan 5-3 to win the Seniors competition. The victory earned him a place at the 2018 World Championship qualifiers in Sheffield where he lost out to another Welsh player, Ryan Day.

Earlier this season he also reached the final of the UK Seniors Championship at the Bonus Arena in Hull, England. There he defeated 1986 world champion Joe Johnson, reigning world seniors champion Aaron Canavan and former professional Leo Fernandez, before losing out to another former world champion in Ireland’s Ken Doherty.

But next season he will return to the top tier looking to break into the world’s top 64 for the first time in his career and in light of his recent form few would bet against it.

2019 Pan American Snooker Championships

Results (from the quarter-finals onwards)

​Igor Figueiredo (Brazil) 4-1 Ahmed Aly Elsayed (USA)

Mark White (USA) 4-2 Ajeya Prabhakar (USA)

John White (Canada) 4-2 Mark Collier (USA)

​Levi Meiller (Canada) 1-4 Renat Denkha (USA)

Semi-finals

Figueiredo 5-1 M.White

J.White 4-5 Denkha

Final

Figueiredo 6-1 Denkha

Learn more about PABSA: https://www.pabsa.org/