That was for you, Grandma…
IRAN’S NO 1 Snooker player Hossein Vafaei has claimed his first ranking event title scooping the fast and furious 2022 BetVictor Snooker Shootout at the Morningside Arena in Leicester, UK.
In four days of thrills, spills, and drama, which saw miscues, shots not being completed on time and low point scoring frames, Vafaei was the consistent player who breezed through his matches playing his own game and not getting fixated on the clock.
The final saw him come up against the 24 times ranking winner class of 92 player Mark Williams, who takes the Shootout to a duck to water – and already a ranking event winner this season winning the British Open last year.
Williams, 46, broke off in the final and Vafaei boldly went for a long red and got it, before dishing up with a 71 in steely fashion to complete his dream of winning a ranking event title on TV.
It’s not arrogant to think you’re the best…
He told Eurosport after that his win was for his grandma, whom he had sadly lost in the week before.
“That was for you, Grandma, he said coolly…
Williams praised the Iranian’s bottle under pressure and said: “There’s not many people who can pot like that and screw back the long red.”
He added: “Fantastic break”.
“I thought I had broken off OK to be honest.”
After Vafaei told Jimmy White that now he was a winner with a trophy in his hands, he would go and win more.
He told himself he was the best in the world, but thought it was a bit arrogant to say it with the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan around.
White added; “It’s not arrogant.”
But Jimmy White, 10 times ranking event winner, told him if you want to go and win more titles at this game, you have to believe you are the best, and winning the Shootout proved that the Iranian could do it under pressure and beat the best.
Vafaei said of his performance in the Shootout: I wasn’t looking at the clock, I was just playing my game. I will definitely go and win…”
There were some other fantastic performances on route to the final with some amateurs going quite far in the event including the likes of former pro Billy Castle, who got to the quarter-finals.
An early story of the Shootout was 15-year-old Stan Moody, one of a few who were chosen by the EPSB to play in the event in Leicester. Moody managed a great win in his first match, but couldn’t quite get going in the second against a practice partner, the older Oliver Lines.
The Shootout every year comes under criticism from fans for it being a ranking event and some do not like the format, but with 50K ranking points up for grabs, it is an event that can elevate a lower-ranked player and also create more exposure.
It’s also great to see players on TV down the ranks that you might not get to see a lot of throughout the season.