Ka Wai Cheung has defeated Gao Yang 5-0 in the final of the 2024 WSF Championship to secure the title and his status as a main tour professional for the first time at the Grand Blue Fafa Resort in Albania.
Cheung’s victory continues Asia’s dominance in snooker’s most prestigious amateur competition, which has been won by players from the continent in four of its five editions, with the 24-year-old following in the footsteps of Luo Honghao (2018), Si Jiahui (2022) and Ma Hailong (2023).
The result means Cheung will compete on the main tour in the 2024/25 and 2025/26 seasons for the first time in his career and also denied 2020 WSF Junior champion Gao the feat of becoming the first player to win both the Junior and Open events.
The man from Hong Kong China was in dominant form all week, dropping just four frames in ten matches, and also fired in the tournament high break of 138 en route to a 4-0 semi-final victory over former Ukrainian professional Iulian Boiko, runner-up at the event in 2020.
After topping his group with four straight victories, Cheung overcame Oskar Charlesworth, Luke Pinches, Harvey Chandler, Oliver Sykes and Boiko to set up a final meeting with Gao.
The former professional from China had battled his way to the final by winning three final frame deciders, including a dramatic 4-3 semi-final victory over England’s Daniel Womersley earlier in the day.
The nerves were clearly apparent from both cueists in the early exchanges, but it was Cheung who managed to get over the line in a scrappy opener before doubling his advantage courtesy of breaks of 52 and 39 in the second frame of the evening.
Gao desperately needed to find something quickly after also losing a scrappy third frame and he looked to have found some form when he got in first in frame four and scored a break of 53.
However, Cheung showed determination to fight back and get a snooker on the colours when only able to tie before eventually winning it on the final black to head into the mid-session interval just one frame away from the title.
A break of 60 from Cheung upon their return was enough to complete the whitewash victory and secure both the title and a two-year World Snooker Tour card.
“It is every player’s dream to join the World Snooker Tour,” said Cheung. “I just feel very happy and surprised with my performance, especially in the semi-finals with back-to-back centuries. I played my own game and tried to play like it was practice, which is not easy, but my performance gave me a lot of confidence for the final.
“In the final, the fourth frame was big as I already thought it was 3-1 at the mid-session interval but I tried to play the shot I thought was right and the result came.”
“This is the biggest achievement in my snooker life, I think. I have always wished to be a professional player, so I am really happy to make this happen. It is also a significant result for our sport and I hope that the Hong Kong government will consider to keep Billiard Sports in the Hong Kong Sport Institute instead of asking us to leave in 2025.
“I’ve been a part of the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI) for around 7-8 years as a full-time athlete and even when I was younger, I was a part-time junior athlete. Every tournament, every competition I get support from the HKSI and HKSBCC.
“I have always had a lot of support and encouragement from people in Hong Kong to play more and to chase my goal to earn a [World Snooker] Tour ticket. I am grateful to the HKSI because we get a lot of support to go to all the places to get experience and to play competitions and practice with high standard players. I hope this can remain unchanged in the future so that I can have an easier way to do well in the World Snooker Tour.
Cheung has played snooker since he was 10 years old after he watched the sport on TV and counts former ranking event winner Marco Fu as one of his key inspirations in the sport:
“Marco Fu is always like an idol for me,” continued Cheung. “Because he is always flying around, I do not have much time to see and practice with him, so when I practice in the Elite Training Centre, I have thoughts like I want to be like him and stay on the World Snooker Tour. When I see him play at big tournaments like the Hong Kong Masters that is a big encouragement for me.”
The World Snooker Federation would like to thank all of its partners who have supported the event, including the Albanian Snooker Federation and of all the players, officials and supporters who contributed to a fortnight to remember in Albania.