Vafaei Triumphs in Quarter-Finals, Eyes Historic Victory at MrQ UK Championship

Hossein Vafaei of Iran secured a spot in the quarter-finals of the MrQ UK Championship for the first time by defeating Matthew Selt 6-1 in York.

This victory keeps Vafaei’s Masters qualification hopes alive. If he wins his quarter-final against Zhang Anda and Ding Junhui loses against Mark Williams, Vafaei will move into 16th place in the race to Alexandra Palace. In such a scenario, Zhou Yuelong would need to win the York title to prevent Vafaei from securing a Masters place.

After successfully navigating two qualifying rounds and securing an impressive 6-4 win over Shaun Murphy in the opening round, Vafaei is poised for a title challenge. As the first ranking event winner from Iran, having claimed the Shoot Out in 2022, he now aims to become the first Iranian winner of a regulation format tournament.

Ranked 18th in the world, Vafaei has a history of success in York, previously eliminating four-time World Champion Mark Selby in the last two years. While he reached the last 16 on both occasions, his current display propels him into the quarter-finals.

In a remarkable display of break building, Vafaei showcased runs of 132, 94, 56, 133, and 121 on his way to a commanding victory. Reflecting on his performance, the 29-year-old player expressed satisfaction with his play and the joy of performing before enthusiastic fans at the York Barbican.

Vafaei acknowledged the challenges of reaching the level of snooker legends but expressed confidence in his continuous improvement. He envisions the positive impact of his success, not only for the game but also for the snooker scene in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, on the adjacent table, Zhang secured a notable 6-4 victory over World Champion Luca Brecel, earning a spot in the last eight. Zhang, having won the International Championship earlier in the month, showcased his skill with a final-break 147 and a 10-6 win over Tom Ford. With the scores tied at 4-4, Zhang’s impressive breaks of 124 and 68 propelled him to victory against Brecel.

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