Following six days of action in Albania, the 2024 WSF Championship has reached the knockout stages with 64 players still in contention for the title as we head into Friday.
An incredible 211 players from 38 nations entered the 2024 edition of snooker’s most prestigious amateur event, held at the Grand Blue Fafa Resort in Golem, Albania, and on Sunday 11 February the champion will be crowned.
Won last year in Australia by Chinese cueist Ma Hailong, who defeated Stan Moody 5-0 in the final, the winner of the event will once again be awarded with a two-year World Snooker Tour card to compete against the world’s very best players in the 2024/25 and 2025/26 seasons.
As winner of the 2023 WSF Junior Championship earlier that week, Moody came close to completing an impressive double before falling short in the final to Ma. One year on, Hungary’s Bulcsu Revesz made history by lifting the Junior title and becoming his country’s first ever professional player as a result.
Revesz has continued his fine form into the open event, topping his group with four straight victories, and will be looking to go one better than Moody’s back-to-back attempt last year.
The Hungarian begins his knockout stage with a match against Thailand’s Nattanapong Chaikul on Friday at 12:00 CET.
Gong Chenzhi, the man defeated 5-3 by Revesz in the Junior final, is one of only six players who advanced through the group stages without dropping a single frame in the process – the 17-year-old notably coming close to the first maximum break in WSF Championship history before missing a tricky 15th black in his whitewash victory over Poland’s Antoni Kowalski.
Gong will face 19-year-old Aidan Murphy in the last 64 and finds himself in the same half as fellow countryman Gao Yang, the 2020 WSF Junior champion, who is also yet to drop a frame in the event heading into his knockout stage meeting with former professional Sean Maddocks.
Another player who stormed through the group phase with a clean sweep of whitewash victories is veteran former professional Barry Pinches, who sets up a mouthwatering clash with Ukraine’s Iulian Boiko, with the victor in that match set to face the winner of another battle of former professionals between Rory McLeod and Duane Jones.
Former ranking event semi-finalist Craig Steadman faces a tough task in his opening knockout match as he takes on the 17-year-old local favourite Kledio Kaci. Should Steadman successfully overcome that hurdle then there could be a meeting of two former ranking event semi-finalists in the last 32, with Steven Hallworth set to face the winner if he can defeat Northern Ireland’s Joel Connolly.
Other notable names in the last 64 stage include English Amateur Champion Paul Deaville, who will play 15-year-old Vladislav Gradinari, while Austria’s Oskar Charlesworth will face Hong Kong China’s Ka Wai Cheung after ending the dreams of veteran Tony Knowles in the preliminary knockout round.
Friday’s action will see the field reduced to 16 players, with the semi-finals and final taking place on Sunday. The best-of-nine frame title match is scheduled to get underway at 6pm CET on Sunday and can be watched live on the WPSBA YouTube channel and WSF Facebook page.