2018 WSF CHAMPIONSHIP - LAST 8 AWAITS
8 players are a trio of wins away from the inaugural World Snooker Federation Championship.
Thursday's action at the Dolmen Hotel in Malta saw both the Last 32 and 16 completed. Number 1 seed Adam Stefanów (Poland) didn't drop a single frame in Round Robin qualifying and during the Knock-Out stages so far he has also been very impressive.
The 24-year-old defeated Fraser Patrick (Scotland) 4-1 and then ended the hopes of the last remaining Maltese home player, Duncan Bezzina, by the same scoreline.
In the Quarter-Finals Stefanów will face Brazilian Igor Figueiredo after he recorded victories over Saif Al Shamsi (UAE) 4-0 and Michael Judge (Republic of Ireland) 4-2. The South American ex-professional is still on course for a very special double having claimed the WSF World Seniors Championship here last week.
Continuing the diverse theme is Iceland's Kristján Helgason - a qualifier for the Crucible in 2000, who is also in the Last 8. After losing just one frame in his Group, Helgason has followed it up with consecutive 4-0s against Andres Petrov (Estonia) and Marcin Nitschke (Poland).
Kishan Hirani (Wales) completes the top half of the draw having come through a deciding frame to eliminate Lim Chun Kiat (Singapore).
In the bottom half, the second of three Welshmen still in is Alex Taubman, who ousted the final Englishman in the event, Kuldesh Johal, 4-3.
Taubman faces another Polish cueist who features; Kacper Filipaik. Still just 22-years-old, Filipiak played on the professional circuit for one season in 2011/2012 courtesy of his European Under 21 win in 2011. Filipiak's ambition of returning to the top tier is still active - a brace of 4-0 clean sweeps on Thursday sees him have an identical frame loss record to that of Figueiredo's.
Quarter-Final 4 is between China's Luo Honghao and Jamie Clarke, who completes the hat-trick for Wales.
Teenager Luo is a serious talent who has already constructed a maximum 147 break during competitive play. He too has been very comfortable in the KOs with back-to-back 4-0 successes over Chris Peplow (Malta) and Thomas Dowling (Republic of Ireland).
Clarke, only 23 himself, has been so close to realising his professional dreams on several occasions in the past. He kept his nerve to edge by Number 2 seed Kevin Hanssens (Belgium) in the seventh frame.
The Quarter-Finals and Semi-Finals will be contested on Friday. There will be particular pressure in those Last 8 ties, as the final four all secure a ticket to next month's World Professional Championship Qualifiers in Sheffield.
Picture above is courtesy of Andy Chubb / World Snooker Federation
Article written and published by Michael Day on the 22nd March 2018