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.
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)
Figueiredo 5-1 M.White
J.White 4-5 Denkha
Figueiredo 6-1 Denkha
Learn more about PABSA: https://www.pabsa.org/
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 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.
Brazil’s Igor Figueiredo became the first winner of the WSF Seniors Championship on Saturday after he came from behind to defeat Welshman Darren Morgan 5-3 in the final.
The 40-year-old former professional from Rio de Janeiro reached the final following victory against Ireland’s Michael Judge earlier in the day, while Morgan held off UAE star Mohamed Shehab to book his place in the showpiece match.
It was in fact former world professional number eight Morgan who made the stronger start to the match, racing out of the blocks with a break of 116 in the opening frame on his way to a 3-1 lead at the mid-session interval.
Back came Figueiredo however, winning four consecutive frames with a top run of 66 to claim the title and write his name in the record books as the first-ever winner of this prestigious new event.
The Brazilian most recently competed on tour during the 2016/2017 season, notably reaching the last 16 stage of both the Welsh Open and Gibraltar Open tournaments.
Both players will be back in action tomorrow in another historic new event, the mixed gender WSF Championships looking to emerge victorious from a 90-strong field containing many of the world’s finest amateur players.
View the draw for the WSF Championship HERE.
Just four players remain at the semi-final stage of the WSF Seniors Championship following the conclusion of play on the third day of the event in Malta.
With the group stages having concluded on Thursday, 28 players began the day with their eyes on the prize, including a mix of former professionals and talented amateur players.
In the top half of the draw, former world professional number eight Darren Morgan justified his status as top seed by booking his place in the semi-finals for the loss of just two frames so far at the Dolmen Hotel. in fact those two frames came early in the day today as England’s Stuart Watson battled back from 3-0 down, before Morgan claimed the sixth frame of their encounter to progress a 4-2 winner.
Morgan then saw off local player Arthur Cachia 4-0 to set up a last four match against Mohamed Shehab of the United Arab Emirates, who also conquered Maltese opposition this evening to progress. Having earlier defeated Jersey’s Gary Britton in the morning, Shehab then added the scalp of 50-year-old Simon Zammit with a 4-1 victory to qualify for the final day.
The second semi-final will be contested between former professionals Michael Judge and Igor Figueiredo, but not without a scare for both players today.
Ireland’s Judge was seeded through to the last 16 stage following his strong performances in the groups but had to come through a deciding frame against Steve Mifsud to reach the quarter-finals in his first Friday match. His next opponent Kristjan Helgason of Iceland too put up a stern fight with breaks of 90, 71 and 46, but it was Dublin’s Judge who would prevail a 4-2 winner.
Brazil’s Igor Figueiredo awaits after the popular player overturned a 2-0 deficit against home player Jason Peplow to qualify for the last four. Earlier in the day Figueiredo had recorded a comfortable 4-0 success against Irishman Nigel Power.
The remaining players will resume at 10:00am on Saturday morning, ahead of a best of nine frames final scheduled to take place at 3:00pm local time.