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
The practice schedule for the remaining players competing at the WSF Championship on Friday 23 March 2018 is now available.
Just 16 players remain in the hunt to become the first ever winner of the WSF Championships in Malta following the opening two sessions of the event on Thursday.
Held at the Dolmen Hotel, the tournament offers a key pathway to the World Snooker Tour, with the winner guaranteed to earn a two-year tour card from the beginning of the 2018/19 season and all four semi-finalists guaranteed a place at the professional World Championship qualifiers next month.
Among those with their eyes on the prizes are a mix of former professionals looking to regain their professional status and rising talents as young as 18 looking to breakthrough onto the main tour.
The top half
Heading the draw after the four-day group matches was Poland’s Adam Stefanów and the 24-year-old continued his impressive form with 4-1 victory against former professional Fraser Patrick this morning. He will next face home player Duncan Bezzina after he defeated Thailand’s Ratchayothin Yotharuck 4-2 in the opening session.
Already a winner in Malta last week following his victory in the WSF Seniors Championship, Brazil’s Igor Figueiredo kept his hopes of a title double alive with an impressive whitewash of Said Al Shamsi which included breaks of 125, 92 and 60. An eye-catching last 16 clash with former professional ranking semi-finalist Michael Judge now awaits him later this evening.
Iceland’s Kristjan Helgason has been among the most impressive players so far during the week and the former Crucible qualifier defeated Estonia’s Andres Petrov to set up a clash with Marcin Nitschke of Poland in the next round. The top half of the draw is completed by Welshman Kishan Hirani, who will next meet Lim Chun Kiat of Singapore on Thursday evening.
While the top half of the draw includes four players over the age of 40, there is a more youthful feel to the bottom half with the likes of Luo Honghao and Jamie Clarke through to the last 16.
At 18-years-old China’s Luo Honghao is the youngest remaining player following a comfortable victory against Malta’s Chris Peplow this morning and having recorded breaks of 82, 81 and 50 he could take some stopping. Next up for the youngster will be a match against Ireland’s Thomas Dowling, who scored an impressive 4-1 win against Poland’s Mateusz Baranowski.
The winner of that match could then face talented Welshman Jamie Clarke of Wales after the youngster outscored former professional world number eight Darren Morgan today. Trailing 2-1, Clarke hit breaks of 63, 65 and 62 to seal a 4-2 win and set up a clash with Belgium’s Kevin Hanssens tonight.
Kuldesh Johal won a tight all-English affair with three-time English amateur champion David Lilley 4-2 to progress to a meeting with Alex Taubman, while Scotland’s Michael Collumb will face former Polish professional Kacper Filipiak.
All last 16 matches will be concluded this evening, with the winners just one victory away from taking their place at the professional World Championship in Sheffield.
For more information about the tournament please visit www.worldsnookerfederation.org
The practice schedule for the remaining players competing at the WSF Championship on Thursday 22 March 2018 is now available.
The draw for the knockout stages of the inaugural WSF Championship has been made today in Malta.
Following the conclusion of the final round robin group matches on Wednesday morning, the initial 90-strong field has been reduced to 54 players all looking to take home the winner’s trophy and earn their place on the World Snooker Tour.
From 18 groups, three players have progressed from each with the ‘best’ group winners seeded straight through to Thursday’s last 32. The remaining 44 players will play this evening across two sessions to determine who will join them with three days of the tournament remaining.
Among those to progress, four players (Adam Stefanow, Kevin Hanssens, David Lilley and Ross Vallance) did so without the loss of a frame, while a further four including WSF Seniors Champion Igor Figueiredo of Brazil did so just losing a single frame.
11-time world women’s snooker champion Reanne Evans ensured that there would be a female presence in the draw at the landmark mixed gender event by winning her two matches on Tuesday to come through her group. She will now face Welshman Kishan Hirani, who earlier in the day ended the qualification hopes of another female player, England’s Rebecca Kenna.
There were six century breaks scored during the group stages, with a run of 131 set by Igor Figueiredo’s currently leading the race.
The winner of the tournament will earn a top prize of €10,000, as well as a two-year tour card for the World Snooker Tour. The four semi-finalists will also qualify to play at next month’s professional World Championship qualifiers in Sheffield.