Yesterday saw the successful opening of the Malta Snooker Academy situated at the Maria Assumpta School, Hamrun.
The Academy is the result of a successful project launched by the Malta Billiards and Snooker Association with the support of the World Snooker Federation (WSF) and World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA). The launch follows the first staging of the WSF Championships in St Paul’s Bay back in March, with seven of the tables used at the tournament now installed at the academy and an eighth planned for future use.
The Academy also houses five ‘Little Star’ tables donated by the WPBSA to encourage future development, with all future Maltese divisions and ranking events set to be played at the venue.
The Academy is a fantastic legacy of the WSF Championships and the WSF team would like to wish everyone in Malta the best for the future.
The World Snooker Federation (WSF) held its latest board meeting in Bangkok, Thailand on the 4th of September during the staging of the 2018 SangSom 6-Red World Championship.
For many years Thailand has played host to meetings involving international federations from across the globe. This year’s meetings were held as part of the ongoing sports development plans by the WSF and WPBSA.
Topics discussed at the meeting included the future strategy of the WSF, multi-sport events and the support of the bid for cue sports to be included as part of the programme at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Delegates in attendance included WSF President Jason Ferguson, WSF Vice Chairman Nigel Mawer QPM, WSF General Secretary Maxime Cassis and WSF Treasurer Mike Peachey.
On the 5th of September the WSF board were joined by its regional and continental members. The European Billiards and Snooker Association (EBSA) was represented by John Terry, the Pan American Billiards and Snooker Association (PABSA) was represented by President Ajeya Prabhakar and the Oceania Billiards and Snooker Federation (OBSF) by President Frank Dewens. The Billiards and Snooker Association of Thailand (BSAT) were also respectfully invited as observers.
WSF President Jason Ferguson said “The past few days have been both positive and exciting. There are so many fantastic projects ahead like the development of Pan American Championships, the 2019 Africas Games and finding more opportunities for players who have to travel vast distances from places like Oceania. We have much to do, but with the passionate team of people we have seen this week we are confident that the future of our sport is bright.”
The WPBSA and World Snooker have today announced further information in respect of the nominated players who will participate in the new Challenge Tour.
To operate as a secondary circuit to the World Snooker Tour, Challenge Tour will comprise 10 events to be staged across the UK and mainland Europe during the 2018/19 season.
The top 64 players on the final 2018 Q School Rankings, excluding those who have qualified for the main tour, will be eligible to compete in each Challenge Tour event.
Up to eight more players will be added to the tour based on the following criteria agreed by the WPBSA in consultation with the World Snooker Federation (WSF):
European WSF Member Federations hosting Challenge Tour Events
- National Champion of Latvia
- National Champion of Belgium
- TBC – EBSA Host European Federation
Players who reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Snooker Federation Mixed Championships
- Kacper Filipiak of Poland
- Kristjan Helgason of Iceland
World Women’s Snooker Tour
- Ng On Yee of Hong Kong (2018 WLBS World Women’s Snooker champion)
- Reanne Evans of England (2017/2018 season end WLBS World Women’s no.1 ranked, or next in line if the same as world champion)
The eighth nomination was the WSF Championship runner-up Adam Stefanów, however it was recently announced that he is now to join the World Snooker Tour from the 2018/19 season.
Should any of the above players not enter a Challenge Tour event, any further players will be selected based upon the Q School Rankings. National federations will not have the option to transfer these invitations to other players.
Challenge Tour will provide a direct pathway to the World Snooker Tour, with the top two players on the final Order of Merit to receive a two-year professional ticket from the start of the 2019/20 season.
There will be a total prize fund of £100,000 to be provided by the WPBSA as part of its ongoing commitment to amateur snooker which has recently seen the formalisation of the International Federation for Snooker, the WSF.
WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “I am delighted to see the gap between amateur and professional snooker getting smaller with the introduction of the World Snooker Challenge Tour in Europe. We have seen many young talented players coming through in China through competing on the CBSA Tour which provides excellent playing opportunities for leading players in the region. There is a strong appetite from elite performing amateur players across Europe to have similar opportunities as they look to develop a full-time career in our sport.
This new Challenge Tour will not only provide the opportunity to compete at a high-level in match conditions, it will also be a place where as a world governing body we can educate the next generation of players and officials to safeguard our sport’s future.”
The first Challenge Tour event gets underway this Saturday at the Meadowside Leisure Centre in Burton and will run for two days with a total prize fund of £10,000.
The first-ever mixed gender WSF Championship staged by the World Snooker Federation has been won by Chinese teenager Luo Honghao following a 6-0 demolition of Adam Stefanów today in Malta.
Both players progressed to today’s showpiece match following deciding-frame victories yesterday, but the final proved to be a one-sided affair. Luo followed an opening frame break of 52 with further runs of 54, 60 and a spectacular 87 during the last frame before the mid-session interval.
Poland’s Stefanów had been one of the tournament’s most-impressive performers in the run up to the final, but could not find his best form during the title decider and scored just 97 points during the course of the final.
For Luo, the victory not only sees him inscribe his name into history as the first-ever winner of the prestigious new event, but also earns him the top prize of €10,000 and a coveted place on the World Snooker Tour from the start of the 2018/19 season.
“I am really excited to be joining the World Snooker Tour for the first time,” said a delighted Luo. “There were a lot of great players in this event and so I am really happy to win this final.
“I tried my best to win every match and to take every shot like in practice and I am now really excited to be joining the main tour.”
Today’s final brings down the curtain on a landmark event in Malta which has seen three significant titles decided during the past two weeks.
The WSF Championships began with the staging of the World Women’s Snooker Championship and the WSF Seniors Championship, won by Hong Kong’s Ng On Yee and Igor Figueiredo respectively.
The tournaments were followed by the new WSF Championship, a mixed gender event carrying not only a main tour card for the winner, but coveted places at next month’s professional World Championship in Sheffield, won by Luo, Stefanów, Kristjan Helgason and Kacper Filipiak as the quartet reached the semi-finals on Friday.
The World Snooker Federation would like to extend its thanks to all of the players, officials and national federations who have supported what has been a hugely successful event in Malta.
Poland’s Adam Stefanów is through to the final of the inaugural WSF Championship following a dramatic 4-3 victory against former professional Kristjan Helgason in Malta.
Having already secured his place in the last four with an impressive 4-2 victory against last week’s WSF Seniors Championship winner Igor Figueiredo earlier in the day, it appeared as though his run was coming to an end as he fell behind 3-1 against Iceland’s Helgason who hit top scored with a break of 119 in the third frame.
But the 24-year-old had other ideas however as he closed the gap to a single frame with a break of 52, before restricting his opponent to just nine points during the final two frames as he completed a memorable turnaround.
“I told myself to keep on trying and I was just waiting for a chance from Kristjan,” explained Stefanów immediately after the match. “He played too good to go 3-1 up, he didn’t miss many balls.
“But I made breaks of 57, 60 to go 3-2 and then he started to miss and I made a good 40 under pressure in the decider. I felt really comfortable, I have been there so many times and I am only 24 but I just realised how much experience that I have from playing for 14 years so I just tried my best.”
Stefanów is now just one victory away from earning a two-year ticket to the World Snooker Tour for what would be the first time in his career if he can take victory in tomorrow’s best-of-11 frames final in Malta.
Visibly emotional as he wiped away the tears while potting the winning balls, Stefanów revealed the extra significance of a tournament that until just a few weeks ago he was not expecting to be competing in.
“It’s just a crazy story really,” explained Stefanów. “I’m not supposed to even be here, but I had a good run in the European Championships last month Sofia, Bulgaria and I got a wildcard to play.
“The last three years have been really hard as I have been living in Sheffield, England and working full time in a restaurant as well as playing snooker full-time. I have been very dedicated but I couldn’t do both anymore and recently came back to Poland after receiving a good job offer.
“So I came into the tournament knowing that it could be my last chance and 3-1 down I thought it would be good to finish with a semi-final in a tournament like this one. But I said ok last tournament, keep trying, keep trying and now I am into the final. When I came back to Poland I thought that I am not good enough to be on the main tour, but now tomorrow I am playing a match to be there so it is crazy!”
As he now awaits the winner of the day’s second semi-final between countryman Kacper Filipiak and 18-year-old Luo Honghao of China, Stefanów has no doubt as to who he wants to come up against in tomorrow’s title decider.
“I hope that my friend Kacper can come through tonight and that we are going to play together and show that we have really good players in Poland. We both still very young and I am really happy for snooker in Poland that we have been able to play well this week. If one of us can take the tour card it would be massive for snooker back home.”
Earlier in the day both Stefanów and Filipiak secured their places at next month’s professional World Championship in Sheffield, together with fellow semi-finalists Kristjan Helgason and Luo Honghao by making it through their quarter-final matches in the morning.
The second semi-final gets underway at 9:00pm local time, ahead of tomorrow’s two-session final from 10:00am, with the first to six frames being crowned the first-ever WSF Championship winner and earning their place on the World Snooker Tour.
The inaugural WSF Championship is now down to just eight players in Malta, one of whom will leave on Saturday night having secured their place on the World Snooker Tour for the next two seasons.
However, with four tantalising places at next month’s professional World Championship qualifiers on offer for those who can make it to tomorrow evening’s semi-finals, the pressure is already on as we enter the business end of the tournament.
Among the first players to book their places in the last eight this evening were Poland’s Adam Stefanow and former professional Igor Figueiredo, who will now meet with a place in Sheffield at stake tomorrow.
Playing on the main table against the last of the Maltese players in action in their home country Duncan Bezzina, Stefanow closed out a comfortable 4-1 victory with breaks of 70 and 52 to progress. It was a similar story for next opponent Figueiredo who following a number of close early frames against Irish former pro Michael Judge, stepped it up a gear with runs of 86 and 89 to secure the win.
The highest break of the evening was made by Iceland’s Kristjan Helgason, who made 101 in a swift 4-0 victory against Marcin Nitschke of Poland to move into the quarter-finals.
There he will face Kishan Hirani, one of three Welsh players to come through a deciding frame during a memorable 15-minute spell late Thursday evening. Hirani saw off Singapore’s Lim Chun Kiat following a tense final frame to move to within a match of qualifying for Sheffield.
In the bottom half of the draw, the second of the evening’s Welsh winners Alex Taubman edged out former professional Kuldesh Johal 4-3, celebrating an important victory with a fist pump as he potted match ball. Awaiting him in the quarter-finals will be another former main tour player, Poland’s Kacper Filipiak who hit a top break of 76 in a 4-0 whitewash of Scotland’s Michael Collumb.
The final quarter-final match will see 23-year-old Jamie Clarke – looking to make his breakthrough onto the main tour for the first time – take on the impressive Chinese youngster Luo Honghao after the pair came through their matches this evening in contrasting fashion.
For Clarke, a nail-biting final frame against Belgium’s Kevin Hanssens, settled by a gutsy pot on the final pink with the rest to take a 4-3 victory, while teenager Luo was a dominant 4-0 winner against Ireland’s Thomas Dowling to progress.
The quarter-finals get underway at 11:00am local time, with places in the semi-finals – and more – to be decided as the tournament enters its penultimate day.
For more information about the tournament please visit www.worldsnookerfederation.org