Ross Muir is set to return to the World Snooker Tour after he defeated fellow Scot Michael Collumb 5-1 in the final to win the 2023 EBSA European Amateur Snooker Championship.
Organised by the European Billiards and Snooker Association, over 170 players from 40 different nations took part in the 32nd edition of this prestigious continental event which was this year being held at the Dolmen Hotel in Qawra, Malta.
Muir had no problem qualifying for the knockout rounds after topping his group with four wins from four. He went on to eliminate Umut Dikme (Germany) 4-2, George Pragnell (England) 4-0, former finalist Heikki Niva (Finland) 4-2, Shachar Ruberg (Israel) 4-3 and then two-time winner Robin Hull (Finland) 4-1 in the semi-finals.
On the other side of the draw, current Scottish national champion Collumb – who also enjoyed a 100% record in the groups phase – denied recent Q Tour Playoff winner Ashley Carty (England) on his way to the last four where he ended the challenge of Irish youngster Ross Bulman, 4-1.
The first all-Scottish final in the tournament’s history, Muir started strong as breaks of 55 and 88 helped him establish a 2-0 lead.
Collumb got on the board with frame three, but Muir clinched a tight fourth frame from behind to go into the mid-session interval two up before reaching the target of five on resumption.
After agonisingly finishing second on this season’s Q Tour and just missing out on automatic promotion, this triumph in the Mediterranean for the 27-year-old means he will be back in the big time as he secures a two-year professional tour card for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 seasons. The Edinburgh cueist last appeared on the sport’s top tier in 2019.
Muir becomes the fourth player from Scotland to win the title, and the victory caps an incredible championships for his nation after under-16 and under-21 glories at the same venue for Jack Borwick and Liam Graham, respectively.
Congratulations Ross Muir!
I’m very happy for Ross who has somehow been forced out of the professional game because of health issues. He’s obviously been working very hard to regain his tour card and has got a lot of good results in recent months. I’m wishing him the best as he return where he belongs to, the Main Tour.
The bad … Mark Kings suspended on suspicion of match fixing
WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson has today taken the decision to suspend Mark King from attending or competing on the World Snooker Tour with immediate effect.
This follows an initial investigation of irregular betting patterns reported to the WPBSA on the match between Mark King and Joe Perry at the Welsh Open on 13th February 2023.
The suspension will remain in place until the conclusion of the investigation or any subsequent charges that may or may not be brought. Mark King has the right to appeal this decision.
This is another blow hitting the sport we love. This particular match had been discussed on social media indeed and there are call for Jason Ferguson to quit because, allegedly, he didn’t act swiftly enough in this case, and indeed the 10 Chinese players case. I’m not sure about that. It’s one thing to suspect or even know something, and another thing to have enough solid proof to take actions that are bound to be legally challenged if not supported by substantiated evidence.
Acquiring such evidence might take some time. In some cases it might even prove impossible. We have had cases in the past, in snooker, of situations where everyone was convinced that results had been manipulated but actual solid proof could never be sufficiently established. You can’t break someone career, and life, on suspicions no matter how strong they are.
Mark King is a former betting addict. My first thought reading the news was: “Did he have a relapse? Did he put himself is such dire financial situation that he saw no other way out of his problems?”. Hopefully answers will come soon. No matter how bad the answers they can’t more damaging than being in a limbo that only feeds speculations and conspiracy theories.
WPBSA Qualifiers Announced For Cazoo World Championship
The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) and World Snooker Tour have announced the qualification criteria for the 16 amateur qualifiers who have earned the right to compete at the Cazoo World Snooker Championship in Sheffield next month.
This year’s qualifying rounds will return to the English Institute for Sport, Sheffield from 3-12 April 2023. The field will include professionals ranked outside of the world’s top 16 following the Duelbits Tour Championship and amateur top ups from the 2022 Q School Order of Merit.
They will be joined by 16 leading amateur players, based upon their achievements at recognised international competitions during the current season. These include the World Snooker Federation Championships, the WPBSA Q Tour and the World Women’s Snooker Championship.
Jason Ferguson, WPBSA Chairman said: “It is always an honour to be able to announce our WPBSA qualifiers who will compete at this year’s World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.
“This year’s field contains an exciting array of talent, from some of the most talented juniors in the world. These include our WSF champions Hai Long Ma and Stan Moody, as well as vastly experienced former ranking event semi-finalists Martin O’Donnell and Daniel Wells, who throughout a period off tour have demonstrated that they can still compete at the very highest level.
“The strength of these qualifiers reflects the current strength of the amateur game globally and the prestige of each of the qualifying pathways. The WPBSA has a robust and well-developed global system, which provides direct access to the World Snooker Tour for elite performers.
“There can be no prouder moment for these players, their families and their supporters, than to see that through their exceptional performances they will join snooker’s greatest stage, the Cazoo World Snooker Championship.”
Filips Kalnins – 2023 WSF Junior Championship Semi-Finalist
Martin O’Donnell – 2023 WPBSA Q Tour Winner
Liam Graham – 2023 EBSA European Under-21 Championship Winner
Bulcsú Révész – 2023 EBSA European Under-18 Championship Winner
Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjan – 2023 World Women’s Snooker Champion
Ross Muir – 2023 WPBSA Q Tour No.2
Daniel Wells – 2023 WPBSA Q Tour No.3
Billy Castle – 2023 WPBSA Q Tour No.4
George Pragnell – 2023 WPBSA Q Tour No.5
Farakh Ajaib – 2023 WPBSA Q Tour No.6
All players selected will appear subject to acceptance of their place and any travel restrictions in place. Any replacement players will be selected from a reserve list to include performances at World Snooker Federation, Q Tour and recognised regional events.
Any current professional players who do not enter the tournament will be replaced from the 2022 Q School Order of Merit.
There is clearly a bigger focus on the young talents this year and that’s good. Indeed the 2023 EBSA European Championship is still underway in Malta – you can follow it here – but WPBSA din’t wait to know the winner of that competition to name their qualifiers. There is also a clear confirmation that snooker is on the rise in Easter Europe with three teenagers from the area in the field.
Scotland’s Liam Graham defeated Iulian Boiko 5-2 in the final to win the 2023 EBSA European Under-21 Snooker Championship and earn promotion to the World Snooker Tour for the first time in his career.
Organised by the European Billiards and Snooker Association, this year’s staging was held at the Dolmen Hotel in Qawra, Malta and hosted by the Malta Billiards and Snooker Association.
A total of 96 players representing 30 different nations took part in the event, hoping to join a list of former champions stretching back to 1997 and including professional ranking event winners Mark Allen, Michael White and Luca Brecel.
Graham, an 18-year-old from Glasgow, breezed through his round robin group earlier in the week, winning all three of matches and not dropping a single frame. However, he needed to show his mettle during the knockout phase as he won the final two frames to oust 12-year-old Matvei Lagodzinschii (Ukraine) 4-3 in the last 32, before coming back from 3-1 down to deny Riley Powell (Wales) 4-3 in the last 16.
In the quarter-finals Graham dispatched Artemijs Žižins (Latvia) 4-2, and then ended the challenge of Ryan Davies (England) 4-1 in the final four with the aid of a 78 break.
Coming through the other side of the draw was former professional Boiko, who created history by becoming the first Ukrainian to reach the final of this prestigious championship.
The 17-year-old – who also eased through his group without relinquishing a frame – recovered from being behind in his opening three knockout matches before a more comfortable 4-0 success against Robbie McGuigan (Northern Ireland) in the semi-finals where he crafted runs of 79 and 75.
Having earlier deposited the opening frame of the title match, Graham also won frames three and four to go 3-1 up heading into the mid-session interval. On resumption, Boiko produced a break of 101 to reduce his arrears, but the Scottish teenager won frame six, and then potted a long pink followed by a tricky black in frame seven to secure the championship.
Graham is the third Scot to win Europe’s premier junior snooker competition, and he is set to realise his ambition of competing on the sport’s top tier with a World Snooker Tour card for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 seasons.
Some of the stuff published here today were shared some days ago but I preferred to think about it a bit before sharing it.
6-Reds World Championship in Bangkok (so far)
The first day of action already concluded and the defending Champion, Stephen Maguire is already out. He is playing in Group A and has lost both his matches today. The same in true for Mink. Those two play each other in their last match and neither can progress to the next round. Ding and Zhang Anda are certain to progress to the knock-out stage.
In Group B all four players have played one match. Thepchaiya Un-nooh and Tom Ford, who replaces Luca Brecel, won very comfortably, by 5-0 and 5-1 respectively. It’s a very good start of course but, on paper, everything is still possible.
All players in Group C have played two matches. Hossein Vafaei has won both. He beat John Higgins by 5-1 and Poramin Danjirakul by 5-2. Both Hossein’s victims did beat Ken Doherty, who can’t now qualify for the knock-out stage.
Only two matches were played in Group D. Judd Trump whitewashed Ricky Walden whilst future professional Ma Hailong defeated Kritsanut Lertsattayatthorn by 5-1.
It’s a similar situation in Group E except that the matches were closer. Robert Milkins beat Matt Selt by 5-2 whilst Chris Wakelin beat Dechawat Poomjaeng by 5-4.
In Group G as well, only two matches were played: Noppon Saengkham beat Jordan Brown – who replaces Shaun Murphy – in a deciding frame. Stuart Bingham got the better of Mahmoud El Hareedy, He beat him by 5-1.
Groups F and H haven’t started yet.
Table 1 is shown on Eurosport/Discovery+. Table 2 is shown on Youtube. Tables 3 and 4 were streamed on Facebook.
The Thai love a grand ceremony… the trophy was brought to the venue by a military parade!
And more about yesterday and players greeting the fans
Yesterday, Ashley Carty won the Q-Tour Play-offs and regained his professional status
Ashley Carty defeated Florian Nuessle 5-2 in the final to win the 2022/23 WPBSA Q Tour Playoff at the Q House Snooker Academy in Darlington and secure a two-year professional World Snooker Tour card for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 seasons.
Carty was relegated from the sport’s top tier only last year, but the Englishman bounces back quickly after emerging from the 16-player playoff in England’s north-east.
Heading into the event as the number 12 seed after semi and quarter-final finishes on the Q Tour this term, the 27-year-old’s playoff challenge was nearly over before it really began, as he found himself 3-0 down to Farakh Ajaib in the opening round.
However, Carty conjured up a brilliant comeback with a trio of half-centuries as he ousted his opponent in a deciding frame before eliminating youngster Hamim Hussain 4-1 in the last eight to reach Finals Day.
A winner on the English Amateur Tour this season and of the English 6-Red Championship only a few weeks ago, Carty needed to show more mettle as he fell 2-0 down to number one seed Ross Muir in the semi-finals. Once again, he was up to the task as he strung together four consecutive frames to advance into the final as a 4-2 victor.
Waiting for Carty in the title match was 21-year-old Nuessle, who was making the most of his very late call-up to the event after Daniel Wells’ withdrawal on Friday morning.
The reigning six-time Austrian national champion dispatched Josh Thomond 4-0 and Liam Davies 4-3 on Saturday before ending the hopes of Steven Hallworth 4-1 in Sunday’s last four to stand one further win away from becoming a professional for the first time.
Former Crucible qualifier Carty took firm control of the final early on as breaks of 71 and 55 helped him establish a 3-0 lead in the best-of-nine frames encounter. He also crafted a run of 57 in the fourth frame, but Nuessle potted brown, blue and pink to take it and get on the board.
Carty re-established a three-frame cushion with frame five and was within a few pots from victory before Nuessle cleared with a 25 to stay alive. However, Sheffield star Carty was not to be denied, as he wrapped up the win with the aid of a 58 break in frame seven.
Following his triumph, a jubilant Carty said: “It will probably take a few weeks to fully sink in but I’m just over the moon really. I’ve been working really hard lately on and off the table, and it’s really pleasing that it’s paying off. I feel that I’m in a good place at the minute and playing really well.”
Responding to the emotions he felt when 3-0 down to Ajaib in his opening match, Carty described: “It seems ages ago! At 3-0 down I was really nervous, especially in the first two frames I was shaking like a leaf and missing too many balls, but Farakh was giving me opportunities and I knew I had been playing well in practice so I knew to just quicken up a little bit and get into a good flow.”
Reacting to his return to the professional circuit and what it represents, the champion also said: “It means a lot. It has been a tough year financially but it’s been a big learning curve. I know where I have gone wrong for the last four years so hopefully, I can put that right now and kick on.
“This season on the amateur scene has taken me back to my junior days but it’s given me a kick up the backside and made me realise that I wasn’t putting enough work in as I should have done. In a way, it might have helped me.
“I’d like to say big thanks to my sponsors Celtic Surveys because without them this season probably wouldn’t have been possible to practice everyday and put the hard work in. I’d also like to say a big thank you to my friend Kev who had a word with me a couple of months ago and made me put some hard work in and it’s definitely paid off.”
Florian was understandably disappointed to lose in the final but, on social media, stated that he had to take a lot of positives from the week-end and that he was grateful for the opportunity.
Sport Resolutions have appointed Ian Mill KC to chair the Independent Disciplinary Hearing for the ten snooker players charged with serious breaches of the WPBSA Conduct Regulations. A date of 24th April 2023 has been set for the start of the proceedings.
The players will remain suspended until the outcome of the Independent Disciplinary Hearing is published. They will therefore not participate in any remaining World Snooker Tour events during the 2022/23 season, including the 2023 World Snooker Championship.
So, the hearing will start right in the middle of the 2023 World Championship. That’s very unfortunate and I hope it won’t overshadow the most important tournament of the season too much. The timing means that 7 out of the ten players concerned are certain to be relegated from the tour. The Q-Schools, played right after the World Championship are part of the current season and therefore none of them will be allowed to play in those events even if the hearing finishes in time and some of them are cleared of any wrongdoing. It’s very unlikely but it would be very harsh and unfair.
Zhao Xintong and Yan Bingtao are not in danger to be immediately relegated, but could still get long bans of course. Lu Ning on the other hand is likely to get a long ban and, even if he doesn’t, he might find himself out of the top 64 depending on other players results.
The historic 40th staging of the World Women’s Snooker Championship saw the event return to the Hi-End Snooker Club in Bangkok for the first time since 2019, with an all-star field which featured 17 of the world’s top 20 ranked players.
Following a dramatic four days which saw a shock last 16 defeat for three-time world champion Ng On Yee at ther last 16 stage, as well as semi-final exits for the world’s top two ranked players Mink Nutcharut and Reanne Evans, it was Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjan and Bai Yulu who progressed to only the second ever all-Asian final in the history of the tournament (2017).
Competing in her debut World Women’s Snooker (WWS) Tour event, 19-year-old Bai had already made headlines following her record-breaking 127 in the group stage, before she came back from 3-1 down to defeat 12-time champion Evans in what had been an eagerly anticipated semi-final clash.
For Nuanthakhamjan, having defeated five-time finalist Maria Catalano to top her group, she overcame world number five Jamie Hunter, Bayarsaikhan Narantuya of Mongolia and defending champion Nutcharut 5-2 to reach the title match.
It was Bai who made the early running as she led 2-0 and then 3-2 at the mid-session interval. Crucially, however, it was the Thai star Nuanthakhamjan who claimed frames three and six – both with pressure pots on the final black – to remain in contention.
After she took the seventh frame to lead the best of 11 frame contest for the first time, the momentum was in her favour and she finished strongly by adding the following two frames to seal a career-best victory and a place on the professional circuit for the first time.
The victory sees Nuanthakhamjan become only the 14th different winner of the tournament during its history, the third from Asia and only the second from Thailand following Mink Nutcharut’s success a year ago.
Having played snooker since the age of 14, Nuanthakhamjan made her WWS Tour debut at the 2017 World Championship in Singapore where she reached the quarter-finals, before reaching the semi-finals two years later at Hi-End. She is also a former Women’s Snooker World Cup winner and finalist at the mixed-gender Thai national championships.
It was not until April 2022 that she began to compete on the WWS Tour full-time and her victory in Bangkok will now see her enter the world’s top 10 for the first time at number nine.
Victories for Ramachandran and Talbot-Deegan
Alongside the main World Championship, the five-day event also saw the latest staging of the World Women’s Under-21 and Seniors Championships, with a new winner crowned in each competition.
India’s Anupama Ramachanran capped a week to remember as just days on from her victory at the Women’s Snooker World Cup, the Chennai cueist ended the reign of two-time defending champion Ploychompoo Laokiatphong with a 3-2 victory in the Under-21 competition.
The 20-year-old had already accounted for Sophie Nix, Saravalee Songsermsawad and Bai Yulu to reach the final, before she came back from 1-2 down to end Laokiatphong’s bid for a hat-trick of junior world titles.
There was also a maiden victory for England’s Mary Talbot-Deegan in the Seniors Championship as she defeated 2017 World Championship finalist Vidya Pillai 3-1 in the final.
Competing in the event for the first time, 42-year-old Talbot-Deegan reached the final with victories against Altangerel Bolortuya of Mongolia and India’s Pooja Galundia, while Pillai accounted for defending champion Tessa Davidson and former world number one Maria Catalano to reach the title match.
The opening frames were shared as Pillai top scored with a run of 59 in the second frame, but it was to be Talbot-Deegan who would not be denied as she won the following two frames to claim her maiden world title and second Seniors crown in total.
Finally, there was also victory for India’s Amee Kamani in the final of the Challenge Cup, for players who did not reach the last 16 of the main competition. She defeated Waratthanun Sukritthanes of Thailand 3-2 in the final and also compiled the highest break of the Challenge with a run of 71.
World Women’s Snooker would like to thank all of our partners who helped to make the tournament possible, including the Billiard Sports Association of Thailand and Hi-End Snooker Club.
There is one event remaining of the 2022/23 season as the Tour returns to the UK for the staging of the British Open at the Landywood Snooker Club from 13-14 May.
Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjan, like many Thai players, uses a shorter name and she wants to be named Baipat.
From what I was able to watch, the final itself was not the highest quality. It was a very long match and both players were clearly under pressure. The tactical play was quite good, but their break-building deserted them a bit…
This event was probably the most talked about Women Snooker event ever. The fans were able to watch a lot of matches and discover very interesting players they very rarely get the opportunity to see and appreciate.
Snooker is very big in Mongolia, but their players rarely have the means to travel far. This event allowed a number of their female players to show their talent.
Bai Yulu impressed, as I expected. She didn’t perform at her best in the final. Maybe pressure got at her, or maybe a bit of fatigue (she also played in the Junior event). She’s only 19. I hope that she will be allowed to travel to Europe if she gets invitations in events. She is certainly a very promising talent. She had finished top of her group, ahead of Mink who she beat at that stage, and she beat Reanne Evans by 5-3 in the semi-finals of the main event. Reanne had only lost two frames in the previous rounds.
Prior to the main individual event, a number of teams competed in the World Cup. That event also brought a big surprise as “Team India” beat “Team England A”. Team England A was Reanne Evans and Rebecca Kenna, both main tour players.
Represented by Amee Kamani and Anupama Ramachandran, the leading team from India emerged successful from a knockout draw which saw them overcome Thailand C and Thailand A to reach the final, before they toppled the team that featured two of the world’s top four players to claim a famous victory. All three knockout wins were earned following deciding-frames as they succeeded Waratthanun Sukritthanes and Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjan as champions.
Both unranked on the Tour coming into the tournament, Kamani and Ramachandran exhibited both skill and determinaton as they overcame established players on the World Women’s Snooker Tour including world champion Mink Nutcharut, 12-time world champion Reanne Evans and current world number four Rebecca Kenna to lift the title.
In the final it was India who claimed the opening two frames against Evans and Kenna to earn the early advantage, before the English duo claimed the doubles frames and subsequently drew level at 2-2.
The following two frames were again shared with a telling snooker from Evans enough to earn the opportunity for Kenna to pot blue and pink and force what would prove to be a nail-biting deciding frame.
With Kenna up against Kamani in the decisive battle, it was Kamani who would gain the upper hand for Team India, only for a valiant effort from Kenna to chase – and in many cases lay – successful snookers, meaning that the outcome remained in doubt until the final moments.
Ultimately, it was Kamani who would pot the final balls required to earn what was to prove an emotional victory for the India as the pair revealed after the match.
“It feels amazing because I started playing snooker back in 2011 and this is my first world title,” said Kamani. “It feels like magic and all the hard work that I have done has paid off today and this is just the start. I just want to keep winning every world title, that is what I look up to, but for now I am super happy and proud because I have made my nation India proud.
“I think the biggest thrill for a sportsperson is the tricolour, the national flag going high and the national anthem in the background, I think that is the biggest thrill that we play for in India and I have made my nation proud by winning this world title. It feels amazing, I can’t even express it in words, but I think it is a prestigious world title for my country.”
Teammate Ramachandran added: “I am really happy because this has been my first tournament with World Women’s Snooker and the first couple of days I was finding it really hard to adjust to the tables, it was like a completely new environment for me but I just wanted to enjoy what I was doing on the table and not thinking too much about whether I win or lose. I was going shot by shot and that really helped. I have no words!”
Kamani also revealed that the feat was to be even more remarkable as the pair only decided to enter the team event shortly before the entry deadline, looking to gain valuable match practice ahead of the start of the upcoming World Championship at the same venue.
“I think it’s an irony that we decided to pair up at the last moment. Just before we booked our tickets, she [Ramachandran] called me and said let’s play!
“We do not play on XingPai tables, this is our first time and I think we have done amazingly well. Beating Thailand and England one by one makes it more important for us and special to win because we have beaten the top players of the world and then reached the number one place.”
This of course is a reminder that snooker is also big in India and the country has very talented players. I met and spoke to the likes of Pankaj Adjani, Lucky Vatnani and Aditya Mehta when taking pictures on tour. One aspect that was rarely talked about is how homesick they all were. Living as expats, away from their family, in a completely different culture – with a completely different food culture – is something they found difficult. That was the main reason for Pankaj Advani to quit the main tour. Some fans branded him “a quitter” but the man had nothing to prove and he was extremely unhappy. Why should he put himself through it?
Baipat has been offered a tour card. Should she take it, one other tour card remains for the grabs and will go to the highest Women Snooker ranked player, not already on tour at the end of the season. That is currently Reanne Evans, but she is not safe yet as there is still one event counting and On Yee could still get ahead of her. Again, I question the UK centric organisation of the sport here. With most events played in the UK, many of the very talented Asian players that we have seen over the last week have no chance to get high enough in the rankings because they simply can’t afford to travel to the UK each time, nor to live in the UK as ex-pats.
And finally a big bravo to the the Hi-End Snooker Club in Bangkokand to Gappa Gappafor being fantastic hosts!
To be held from 28 February – 4 March 2023, the tournament will once again offer direct access to the professional World Snooker Tour to this year’s champion, with world class players from 12 different countries set to descend upon Bangkok for the prestigious event.
Among those set to compete are each of the players ranked within the world’s top 10, and an impressive 17 of the top 20 in the draw. These include defending champion and home favourite Mink Nutcharut, England’s record 12-time world champion Reanne Evans and three-time winner Ng On Yee from Hong Kong.
Last season’s runner-up Wendy Jans – 14 times a European champion – and five-time finalist Maria Catalano will also join the field from the top tier, while Rebecca Kenna, Jamie Hunter, Tessa Davidson and Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjan are all former semi-finalists at the elite event who will be hoping to go further in 2023.
In addition to the regular Tour competitors, the tournament will also welcome a number of highly regarded players who have either not competed regularly, or at all, in recent years. Among these are Thailand’s Waratthanun Sukritthanes, three times a quarter-finalist at the World Championship since 2017, but who has not been seen on the Tour since the 2019 edition at the same venue.
Likewise, the Tour is also delighted to welcome back India’s Vidya Pillai, who so memorably came within one ball of victory in the 2017 final against Ng On Yee following a marathon final in Singapore.
China’s Bai Yulu is also widely regarded as a player of impressive potential and the 19-year-old set to make her WWS debut next week.
There also strong fields set to contest the Under-21 and Seniors side-tournaments, which will be held alongside the main competition in Thailand for the first time. Both Ploychompoo Laokiatphong and Tessa Davidson will be aiming to defend their respective titles won last year in Sheffield, England.
The final field has also been confirmed for the second staging of the Women’s Snooker World Cup, with 12 teams set to contest the invitational tournament from 25-27 February.
Defending champions Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjan and Waratthanun Sukritthanes are back to attempt the defence of their title, with further teams from England, Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia, India and Mongolia also among the field:
Australia A – Lilly Meldrum / Anna Lynch
England A – Reanne Evans / Rebecca Kenna
England B – Jamie Hunter / Zoe Killington
Hong Kong A – Ng On Yee / Ip Wan In Jaique
Hong Kong B – Man Yan So / Ho Yee Ki
India A – Amee Kamani / Anupama Ramachandran
India B – Ishika Shah / Sanvi Shah
Mongolia A – Bayarsaikhan Narantuya / Sergelenbaatar Byambasuren
Mongolia B – Battogtokh Battuya / Bayarsaikhan Mungunchimeg
Thailand A – Nutcharut Wongharuthai / Ploychompoo Laokiatpong
Thailand B – Waratthanun Sukritthanes / Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjan
Thailand C – Panchaya Channoi / Phimchanok Phoemphul
The draw and match schedules for all four tournaments will be released via WPBSA SnookerScores in due course prior to the start of the event.
The presence of Bai Yulu is interesting indeed. She might prove a very strong candidate for the title if what transpired about her is true. This means that she could possibly get on the main tour via this route. Bai was starting to make some serious impact on 2019, before covid stopped about everything, particularly in China.
When the 2019 IBSF “junior” (boys Under-18 and boys and girls Under-21) Snooker Championship was held in the Olympic Center of Pingdu, Qingdao, Shandong Province, Bai Yulu who celebrated her 16th birthday during the event won the girls competition. She beat Mink by 6–1 in the final. She also reached the quarter-finals of the 2019 IBSF Women’s World Snooker Championship and made the three highest breaks of the tournament: 91, 81 and 78.
She was however prevented to compete in a number international events as she was deemed too young to travel alone. I may be wrong but I don’t thing such restrictions have applied to Chinese boys …
Other than that, the 2023 Players Championship in underway. I’ll cover that later after the first round concludes. I didn’t watch much at all of the action, not because Ronnie isn’t playing, but because my youngest daughter – who I hadn’t seen in the flesh for over 3 years – is visiting me on my island… Some of the biggest names are out already: Mark Allen, Mark Selby, Judd Trump all lost. The recent “form players” prevailed: Joe O’Connor, Robert Milkins, Ali Carter and Shaun Murphy all won.
Neil Robertson beat Zhou Yuelong 3-1 in the final of Group Six of the BetVictor Championship League Snooker Invitational at the Morningside Arena, Leicester to earn a place in next month’s Winners’ Group.
Australia’s Robertson will join the winners of the first five groups – Jack Lisowski, Stuart Bingham, Judd Trump, Kyren Wilson and John Higgins – plus the winner of Group Seven in a strong line-up for the Winners’ Group on March 1st and 2nd, when the trophy and a place in the 2023 Champion of Champions will be on the line.
Breaks of 67 and 107 put Robertson 2-0 ahead, before China’s Zhou pulled one back with a run of 73. World number four Robertson, whose only title so far this season came at the BetVictor World Mixed Doubles alongside Mink Nutcharut, compiled breaks of 31 and 62 in frame four to seal his place in the Winners’ Group.
Earlier in the semi-finals, Zhou beat Xiao Guodong 3-2 thanks to a superb 63 clearance in the deciding frame, while Robertson came from 2-1 down to edge out Matthew Selt 3-2, making a 111 in frame four and a 52 clearance in the fifth.
The tournament resumes on February 27th and 28th with Group Seven, when Ronnie O’Sullivan and Shaun Murphy will join the action, alongside Zhou, Selt, Xiao and Robert Milkins.
The 2023 BetVictor Championship League Snooker Invitational carries a prize fund of £205,000. Players earn £100 per frame won with significant bonuses for their final group position and increased prize money in the Winners’ Group. The bottom two players in each group are eliminated, while the remaining players finishing in the top five have the chance to compete in the next group.
I have removed the link to the “Table Results” from the above text because it’s both incomplete and erroneous on the event official website.
Ma Hai Long won the 2023 WSF Championship earlier today.
China’s Ma Hai Long beat Stan Moody 5-0 in the final to win the 2023 WSF Championship at the Mounties Club in Sydney, Australia.
The 19-year-old was already assured of qualification to the World Snooker Tour prior to the final, with opponent Moody having already gained his professional card following his victory at last week’s Junior Championship, but underlined his credentials with a dominant display to claim the biggest title on snooker’s amateur calendar.
He becomes the fourth winner of the title since its inaugural staging in 2018 and the third from China, to follow in the footsteps of Luo Honghao and Si Jiahui, who also both claimed whitewash successes in their respective finals.
With both players assured of their professional status next season, a free-flowing match was anticipated by many observers, only for the opening exchanges to prove hard fought as Ma established an early 2-0 lead with a top run of 40 in a little under an hour.
A student of the CBSA Academy, Ma visibly gained confidence as the match progressed, limiting England’s Moody to just 15 points during the following two frames and a match high break of 78 helping him to within a frame of glory.
After the resumption of play following the mid-session interval it was Moody who threatened to extend the match into a sixth frame, but a miss on the final red would prove costly as Ma produced a classy clearance to secure the title.
“I was very excited to play in this final,” said Ma. “Even though I was already guaranteed the World Snooker Tour card, that was always in the back of my mind and I just wanted to take one ball at a time and to get the win.
“I know that in the history of this event, players from China have been very successful and as a young player I did not want to let China down. Not only for myself, but the other young players in our country.”
Ma was competing in his first major international tournament following the COVID-19 pandemic and showed his determination throughout the week, regularly coming back from behind in frames to secure victory. Having enjoyed the experience and claimed the ultimate prize, he is now already looking forward to competing on the professional circuit and will be moving to the UK.
“I have won frames from needing three or four snookers in the past,” explained Ma. “I drew inspiration from that and in such a big event like this wanted to never give up.
“I am now very excited to join the professional tour and meet players like Mark Selby, to play him in a big competition. I cannot wait to play in the tournaments that I have seen on television and to play in the famous snooker venues around the world.”
Both Ma and Junior champion Moody were presented with their trophies by dignitaries including WSF President Jason Ferguson, General Secretary Maxime Cassis, WSF Treasurer Mike Peachey and Frank Dewens, President of the Australian Billiards and Snooker Council.
Congratulation Ma Hai Long!
On a personal note, I was very happy to see Peggy Li refereeing again, and getting the final.
Here is the final, with Jason Ferguson himself in commentary
Now … a bit of rant… After Stan Moody beat Liam Davies in the semi-finals, Chris Henry came up on facebook saying that in his opinion Stan should not have been allowed to play in the main WSF event, after winning the junior event, because, having secured his tour card, he was under no pressure hence gaining unfair advantage on his opponents. I completely disagree with Chris’ position on this. Stan made the trip, and that certainly didn’t come cheap, with long haul flights, accommodations, and entry fees. It was experience to be gained and another big title possibly to be won. Why would he be deprived of the opportunity? That would be punishing him for being successful. If Liam and his other opponents can’t deal with that pressure, I wonder how they will deal with the jungle that is the main tour.
Eventually, Stan was beaten comprehensively by Ma. Ma, of course is older, he’s 19. The much fancied Hong Yu Liu, who had reached the QF stage losing just one frame was beaten by Ma at that stage, as was former pro, 18 years old Gao Yang, who reached the semi-finals. All three of them, from what I saw, are currently better and more mature players than any of the young Brits involved in the event. But, of course, the extremely UK centric organisation of the main tour doesn’t favour them at all. That has to change.
There is hope though for a return of the Chinese events next season. It was already announced that the Shanghai Masters is on the cards, but, of course, it’s an invitational with a reduced field.
The “main” 2023 WSF Championship is currently underway in Mount Pritchard, Australia, and has reached the knock-out stage. You will find the knockout draw here. Such event can be a bit difficult to follow during the group stages with so many players involved, and so many matches over four days. Now however it becomes more interesting,
A number of names in this draw caught my eye, for various reasons
Wang Yuchen. I met Wang in 2012 in Yixing. He was part of a group of promising juniors that also comprised Lyu Haotian, Zhou Yuelong and Zhao Xintong. Lyu was the centre of all attentions at the time. Wang was different from the other boys. He was the only one who spoke English fluently and was willing to engage with me. He came across as a very intelligent and mature young teenager. He told me that his family originated from Hong Kong – I see he’s now playing under Hong Kong flag indeed – and that his father insisted that he should get a good education. Therefore he couldn’t put as much efforts in his snooker as the other boys.
Liam Davies from Wales. He’s been tipped as one for the future for a long time. A very solid player and a hard worker, he has to be one of the favourites here.
Iulian Boiko. Iulian qualified for the professional tour in 2020 by reaching the final in this very event. He was only 14, far too young to be a professional IMO. He wasn’t helped by the disruptions caused by the covid crisis, being away from home as such a young age and, certainly having to continue his formal mandatory education. He’s Ukrainian. The terrible situation in his country surely is a major worry … it might also be an inspiration.
Nattanapong Chaikul from Thailand. Inspired by James Wattana, snooker remains strong in Thailand. The Thai girls dominated the 2023 WWS Asia-Pacific Championship. Noppon Saengkham impresses on the main tour this season. Nattanapong Chaikul is only 17, he reached the QFs in the junior event played last week. Can he do better this week?
Sean Maddocks is another former pro, he’s 20. To be honest I don’t rate him at all. His results on the main tour were dire. This season, on the Q-Tour, his best result was a last 16, in Sweden. In the UK events, where the opposition was stronger he didn’t go past the last 64… He has won his first match in the knock-out phase though and will face Fergal Quinn, a 22 years old from Northern Ireland, who is also often cited as a “great prospect” but whose best result in the Q-Tour this season was only a “last 64”, again in Sweden.
We have two players from Latvia in the draw: Rodion Judins and Filips Kalnins. Rodion is now 25, was once seen as “one for the future” but didn’t achieve much, Filips on the other hand is only 17 and reached the semi-finals of the WSF Junior event played last week. They might play each other in the last 32 this time. Rodion is already through his first match. Filips is playing
Stan Moody (16 years old) already earned his Tour Card by winning the WSF Junior event last week. In the last 32, he could face Zac Cosker, 17 years old from Wales, who reached the quarter-finals in that same event. He was beaten by Filips Kalnins at that stage. Liam Pullen, who Stan beat in the final, is also competing in this event.
We have a very – pleasantly – surprising match in the last 64 round currently underway: Peter Geronimo is currently playing Daniel Womersley. Daniel is 31 and has been a constant presence in the PTC events in their time, his presence at this stage of the WSF event is no surprise. Peter’s achievement however is another story: indeed Peter, aged 33, is a regular on the World Disability Snooker tour where he competes in the “Group 6B” category, a group that encompasses persons with a wide range of neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. autism spectrum disorder) or neurological conditions (e.g. acquired brain injury), with IQ over 75.
Robby Foldvari is a blast from the past. He’s 62, he’s Australian and was a Main Tour pro from 1984 to 1997. He also was World Billiards Champion twice in 1997 and 1998. He plays nine-ball pool as well. If he could go deep here it would be quite the story!
Gao Yang is only 18, but is a former pro. He played on the main tour in 2020-2022. He had qualified by winning the WSF Junior event in January 2020. Gao lives in the UK and practices at Ding’s academy. Interestingly, as a junior in China, his coach is/was Ju Reti. Ju Reti was – on paper – a professional in 2014-2016 but never competed outside China during those two seasons. The reasons for this are unclear … maybe he couldn’t afford it or maybe he wasn’t allowed to. He’s an Uyghur , an ethnic group that strongly keeps their traditions and beliefs (Islam) and therefore is oppressed by the Chinese authorities.
Also still competing is Christian Richter from Germany. I must admit that I know nothing about Christian which is maybe not that surprising … he’s only 14!
Finally, we also have Alfie Lee in this draw. Alfie is Stephen Lee’s son. He’s 19, he has played in all Q-Tour events this season but has not been past the last 32.