2015 Snooker World Cup - Meet the players

21:38:00 Ramona Dragomir 4 Comments

In two days’ time (aka. Monday the 15th) the 2015 snooker World Cup will kick off, this also marking the start of a brand new snooker season. A non-ranking event with a history of on-offs, but a good way to get your feet wet before the real snooker crossings (not that this one won't bring out the animal from within), this year's World Cup is set in the snooker-city of Wuxi, China.

As many of you already know, this is a special competition mainly because it defies the basic "law of snooker" - it's not about a single player anymore, but about a nation. So, players team up in pairs of two and fight for their country.

The defending champion is China, but there are no less than 24 teams all ready for attack: China (twice), Norway, Singapore, India, Malta, Austria, Hong Kong, Scotland, Iran, Malaysia, Brazil, Belgium, Australia, Wales, Pakistan, Qatar, Poland, Northern Ireland, England, Rep. of Ireland, Thailand, UAE and Germany.

And since the history of this event along with the format and the rules have been thoroughly discussed by my fellow bloggers and the press in general, I thought it would be interesting to see a different point of view, the one of the ones that are actually involved in the tournament: the players.

So, without any further ado, here are a few quotes and thoughts from some of the players that in just a few days time will take part in this (a bit) bizarre and exciting snooker event.


Needless to say that one of the biggest sensation of this tournament is Norway's team represented by Kurt and Anita Maflin.

Anita is an old friend of the blog, but above all a great snooker player. She was top of her class (aka. number one) in Norway back in 2010 (after winning the Norwegian Cup) and although she hasn't played that much since then, due to the fact that Kurt is always taking part in numerous events, she still very much enjoys snooker and took part in events near Oslo.

Anita told SML blog that: "We were over the moon [to be invited at the World Cup], it will be a great experience to play together as husband and wife."

Kurt's half said she hasn't put in any special practising, but she did practice more hours despite the fact that she has a neck problem for some time now. Still, she looks very much forward to this event although "China is the best team, but we can't fear them if we're gonna have any chance to beat them."

As for the fact that she is the only female snooker player in the competition, this Viking-girl has no worries whatsoever and says she's used to be the "only female in events".

"I'm probably the player that all the others expect to beat hehe. But hey! It's only one frame and I'm going to try my very best to make it difficult for all my opponents. I hope Kurt can win most of his frames to give us a good chance."


Moving on to "the Emerald Isle", Ken Doherty is also looking forward to this event as he partners with no other that Fergal O'Brien.

Ken was very kind as to offer a few words about his expectations for this particular event: "Really looking forward to it! I love playing in these team events, especially because it's the World Cup.

"It's a tough format to play only one frame then alternative shots at doubles too but it's the same for everyone and that gives everyone a chance. Loads of pressure playing for your partner as well as yourself. Can't wait!"


The beautiful Poland, a country that's absolutely in love with snooker (does Gdynia Open ring any bells?) is represented by two snooker players: Mateusz Baranowski and Adam Stefanow.

Very keen on his cooking and music, but hopelessly devoted to snooker Adam (21), has a pretty impressive snooker CV, but I will let him tell the story:

"I started with American pool, but then I moved to the snooker table and due to practising a lot I managed to win 10 Polish titles (6 juniors, 3 teams and this year Men). I practically achieved everything in Poland by the age of 21.

"My current highest break is 145 (135 in tournament) and I reached the quarter-finals of European U21 this year and the semi-finals of European U18 back in 2012 or 2011 ... I don't honestly remember.

"When I was 18 years old I beat Shaun Murphy 3-1 in an exhibition match here in Poland and Mark Davis in Austria Open by the same scoreline, a year earlier."

Although he and his team mate face a fearless competition, they are not scared: "We are just gonna try our best, we are going there to learn a lot and hopefully win some matches so we can show we don't have bad snooker players in Poland.

"I live in Sheffield now so we [AN. him and Mateusz] were not able to practice together but we used to live in same city and practice together so we know each-other well.

"We are not scared of anyone, we are just going to enjoy ourselves and try our best."


Next in line, we move to Poland's neighbour, Germany where Lukas Kleckers and Felix Frede are ready to fight for their country.

Kleckers is practically a snooker sensation in his home country, winning the German U16 title back in 2010, followed by the Seniors title in 2013 and came on 5th place at the European Championship U21 that same year.

A year later, in 2014 he reached the same 5th place at the European Championship U21, but this time was sure to add the World Championship U21 from UAE to his collection of tournaments (5th place).

Lukas was kind enough to share his thoughts about the World Cup with me (hopes, expectations, the format) so here's what this ambitious 19-year-old lad from Essen told me:

"We were really, really happy when we got the news, but we found out only recently so we didn't practice together that much.

"We are at the European Championship in Prague at the moment [AN. at the time of the interview] and hopefully we can do some practice here. Of course it is a bit weird to play in a team, but this makes the World Cup even more interesting.

"I am very excited about the World Cup and we really can't wait to go there. It will be a very hard tournament as our group is very hard, but it is just one frame to play so some sensations could come up.

“It will be a fantastic experience anyway and we will try to show that there are good snooker amateur players in Germany."

Asked if he and Felix fear any team in particular, Lukas added quickly: "We don't really fear any particular match. We will do our best not to be nervous when we play, especially against England and on the TV table (if we play on one)."

Lukas is also aiming to get into the Main Tour by 2016 and is practising really hard for it. Please visit his personal page and find out how you can help this young man to shine more.


The hills may be alive with the sound of music, to paraphrase “The Sound of Music” blockbuster, but also with the sound of snooker cues. And that's what Andreas Ploner and Paul Schopf will be trying to re-create in Wuxi, China as they proudly represent Austria.

Andreas is only 22, but he's totally hooked to his snooker since he was just a 14 year-old boy.

"I started playing snooker at the age of 14. First I played pool for about one year because my friend in school took me to his pool club, but I soon noticed that I'm more interested in snooker.

"My biggest national success is winning the Austrian Men Championship twice (2012 & 2013) and the Austrian U21 Championship (also twice) in the same years.

"I won the highest national ranking event 19 times which is also a record ... I think. I won it for the first time when I was 15.

"As for my highest break in tournament is 116 but I also made a 147! That was last year in a practice match at the Star Snooker Academy in Sheffield during the Q School."

Andreas confessed that it was a huge surprise to find out he and Paul will be playing in the World Cup:

"It was a big surprise. I remember that I was in Burton for this year's Q School. I won my first match and then read the email from World Snooker.

"Paul and I are very happy to get this opportunity. The next few days were a bit stressful because we had to sort everything out to get the visa and book our flight, but everything went well and we are ready to go now."

"This event will definitely help my snooker career. It's one of the biggest events an amateur player can be invited to.

"Our primarily goal is to get a new experience but of course we will also give our best and try to get as far as we can.

"As this event is broadcast on Eurosport I hope it will help snooker grow in Austria. I hope that we will have a match on the TV table because that this will help to raise more awareness." added Andreas.


Saving the best for last, we take off to the beautiful Brazil which will be represented by Igor Figueiredo and Itaro Santos.

Now, we all know Igor and his beautiful smile, but we are also aware how sharp his cue action is, so don't get fooled by his kindness for it evaporates when he's at the snooker table.

Igor was very happy to get the invite for the World Cup, as he thinks this will help snooker grow more in his home country.

"I think it's a ground-breaking event and also a fantastic one! I hope that Brazil will have good results, even though we didn't have the necessary support in our country, which is a minimum so athletes can prepare properly.

"But I really hope that Brazil will perform well at this event and show a little of our potential. This will help our country to start investing more in snooker and have other athletes on the professional circuit."

So despite us moaning about the weird format and the fact that the individualism of this sport is put against the wall, this event is clearly seen (and is, may I add) as a great way to start the season (especially for the professional snooker players) and a huge chance to break the ice and get snooker more known (for the amateur players).

I for one, hope of a better reception than the one this event got back in 2011 in Thailand and a more fluent approach towards the matches.

Either way, snooker is snooker and will triumph at the end of the day, especially with such great ambassadors. And these were just a few of the players who are polishing their cues for the World Cup.

The stakes are even higher since the winner(s) will cash US$200,000 and get a place in the Champion of Champions tournament. 

So, be ready for crazy hours (China’s hours are definitely a killer), more than two players around a snooker table, different format, a bit of confusion and lots of snooker.

Let the new snooker season begin!

P.S. The match schedule can be checked here.


Anonymous said...

If you had told me 20 years ago that Brazil would surpass Canada as the top snooker playing country in the Americas, I would have told you you were nuts. Canada made it to the final of the Snooker World Cup five times between 1980 and 1990.

Now, with snooker more international than ever, we don't even have a world cup team and we don't even have a professional on tour. The top Canadian players are all in their 50s and 60s. For example, Bob Chaperon, who was on Canada's World Cup winning team in 1990, just won the Richler Cup, the main snooker tournament in Canada. That's good for Bob, but it shows that Canadian snooker is not a game for the young.

It's so sad to be a Canadian snooker fan. Oh well. I still love the grand old game.

You are right, it's such a shame not to see Canada in "the snooker charts" (or so to speak). I wasn't around when they Canadian players were on top, but I sure as hell read stories and saw matches on YouTube.

Snooker is going global, so for a snooker fan the fact that countries like Brazil, Quatar, Pakistan and so on are taking a serious interest in snooker is great, but where is Canada? (as you said).

There is still hope, although snooker as a sport requires a lot of practice and sacrifices (which many youngsters aren't willing to make), not to mention that it's still a pretty pricey sport.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your response to my comment, Ramona. And thanks for having such a great snooker blog!

I really hope that snooker gets accepted into the Olympics. I think that could mean greater media attention and it could reinvigorate interest in snooker in Canada. Of course, there won't be any Canadians in the first one or two Olympic snooker tournaments, but hopefully there will be some in future years.

I'm sure you've seen this Ramona, but here's one of the three or four best moments in Canadian snooker - the first ever 147 at the Crucible, courtesy of Cliff Thorburn against Terry Griffiths, with the late Bill Werbeniuk peeking in from the other table:


Thank you so much for your kind words. They really mean a lot to me :-).

I too hope to see snooker accepted into the Olympics. I genuinely believe that it will help the sport a great deal and as you said, raise more awareness in Canada. The love story that Canada had with snooker back in the day needs to be resurrected!

I haven't seen this video in quite a while!!! Call me old fashion but even now I get goosebumps when I see a 147 (especially this one). They haven't lost their charm even if nowadays they are more common.

And I absolutely adore Cliff's reaction from the end and the huge hug.