World Snooker Federation Championship runner-up Adam Stefanów will take his place on the World Snooker Tour for the first time at the start of the 2018/19 season.
After Lyu Haotian climbed into the top 64 of the world rankings at the end of last season following the first year of his two-year tour card, an extra place has now become available on the professional circuit.
Following consultation between World Snooker, the WPBSA and the World Snooker Federation it has been decided that Poland’s Stefanów is to receive the invitation to join the tour, based on being next in line as runner up in the WSF Championship which was held in Malta earlier this year.
Having described the WSF Championship as his ‘last chance’ to qualify for the professional circuit, the tournament proved to be bittersweet for the 24-year-old as he performed brilliantly to reach the final at the Dolmen Hotel, before falling short to eventual champion Luo Honghao of China.
But Stefanów, who for the past three years has lived in Sheffield, England, will now become the first Polish player to compete on the professional circuit since Kacper Filipiak during the 2011/12 season.
Adam Stefanów said: “This is a dream come true for me! There are millions of people playing snooker around the world and to receive the ticket to the dream that I have had for 13 years of being one the 128 players to play on the main tour is absolutely fantastic.
“I feel ready for the opportunity, I am at the perfect age and I know that I can continue to improve as a player. I have been so dedicated to this sport since I was 11 and am so proud that I will be the first player to represent my country on the professional circuit with a two-year tour card. Snooker is such a huge sport in Poland and I am determined to be able to do something special for our game.”
WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “It is a pleasure for us to be able to welcome Adam Stefanów to the main tour as the next player in line following his exceptional performance at the WSF Championship in Malta.
“The WSF is providing inspirational opportunities to amateur snooker players across the globe who demonstrate their commitment to the sport at the highest international level. Adam is a hard working passionate player who has improved tremendously in recent times, he is exactly the type of competitor that the World Snooker Tour requires and he thoroughly deserves a chance to compete amongst the world’s best players.”
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