England’s Stan Moody will take on China’s Ma Hai Long in the final of the 2023 World Snooker Federation Championship after the teenage duo both came through two matches on the penultimate day of the sport’s biggest amateur competition at the Mounties, Sydney.
It can now be confirmed that 19-year-old Ma has qualified to join the professional World Snooker Tour from the start of the 2023/24 season with a two-year card, because final opponent Moody has already secured his place following victory at the WSF Junior Championship just seven days ago.
Eight players began the morning in contention to lift the title and it was an exciting line-up with an average age of just 18 and the oldest player Fergal Quinn just 22, representing the future of our sport.
The top half of the field saw 16-year-old Stan Moody emerge following a dramatic day which began with a thrilling 4-3 victory against Northern Ireland’s Quinn which went down to the final black after just over four hours.
Having never been separated by more than a single frame, it was Moody who got the better of a tense deciding-frame with a nerveless three-ball clearance after Quinn missed the match ball blue to secure his place in the last four.
Awaiting Moody was Liam Davies, after the Welsh talent edged out Iulian Boiko 4-3 to avenge his loss to the Ukrainian player at the same stage of the junior championship a week earlier. It was a high-quality match which saw both players finish with a pot success rate of over 90%, but it was Davies who would hit a run of 59 to prevail in the final frame.
It looked as though the 16-year-old would carry his form into his semi-final against Moody as he opened with breaks of 93 and 84 to establish an early 2-1 lead. Moody, however, showed his class to hit back and claim the subsequent three frames to secure victory and maintain his hopes of becoming the first ever player to win both the Junior and Open competitions at the WSF Championships.
His final opponent will be Ma Hai Long, after the Chinese player dropped just three frames during quarter-final victories against Liu Hong Yu and Gao Yang respectively.
Up against compatriot Liu in his first match, he produced a determined performance to win a succession of close frames, none more so than an incredible third frame which saw his opponent open with a match-high break of 74, only to lose it to an eventual clearance on the colours.
With Moody already into the final following his semi-final victory, both Ma and opponent Gao Yang – who had accounted for WSF Junior Championship Liam Pullen in the last eight – entered the match in the knowledge that the winner would receive a World Snooker Tour card, irrespective of the outcome of the final.
Up against Gao – a former WSF Junior Championship winner and professional from 2020-22 – Ma made an impressive start with breaks of 78 and 62 to move just one frame from the final at 3-0.
Gao – like his opponent still aged only 19 – responded gamely to take the following two frames and a significant lead in frame six, only for Ma to produce a high-quality clearance of 55 which featured an stunning pot on the final pink to secure victory.
The best of 9 frames final of the WSF Championship will take place from 2:00pm AEDT at the Mounties, Sydney and will be available to watch live via the WSF Facebook page and WPBSA YouTube channel.