World Cup 2015 – The Teams Explained
There are now just over two weeks to go until the 2015 World Cup gets underway, but which players will be representing their countries in Wuxi, China and how were they selected?
The first general principle applied was that with the exception of the China ‘B’ team (selected by the China Billiard and Snooker Association (CBSA)), players were selected on the basis of the final world ranking list published after the 2015 World Championship.
Some nations though of course, such as Hong Kong and Belgium, have only current one professional on the main tour. In these cases, the second player was selected based upon their position on either the European or Asian Orders of Merit.
For those nations without a professional, if the first player was selected from either the European or Asian Order of Merit, the second nomination would come from the relevant national governing body.
To better explain this, let’s take a look at each of the 24 teams individually…
- Ding Junhui
- Xiao Guodong
Defending champions China A are of course led by world number four Ding Junhui, who will be joined in his home city by Xiao Guodong for the first time, after the former Shanghai Masters finalist finished £4,698 ahead of Liang Wenbo in the world rankings after the Betfred World Championship.
- Mark Selby
- Stuart Bingham
Perhaps the most straight-forward selection of all of the competing nations, England will be led by not only their two highest ranked players, but the two highest ranked players overall as world number one Mark Selby will be joined by newly crowned world champion and number two Stuart Bingham in Wuxi.
- Neil Robertson
- Vinnie Calabrese
For Australia world number three Neil Robertson will be joined by Vinnie Calabrese, who will begin a fresh two-year professional tour card from the start of the 2015/16 season.
There is of course already a second Australian professional on tour, Steve Mifsud, however he has made only limited appearances since re-joining the tour at the start of last season and declined to enter the World Cup.
- Marco Fu
- Au Chi Wai
With just Marco Fu currently on tour from Hong Kong and therefore guaranteed a place in the team, he will be joined by Au Chi Wai, who was the highest placed player from the country on the 2014/15 Asian Order of Merit, having finished 50th with £800.
- Gerard Greene
- Joe Swail
With Northern Ireland number one Mark Allen having opted not to enter the World Cup, his place is taken by Joe Swail, who joins fellow professional Gerard Greene in Wuxi.
- John Higgins
- Stephen Maguire
As was the case at the last World Cup in 2011, Scotland will be represented by John Higgins and Stephen Maguire, as the two Scots currently ranked inside the world’s top 16.
- Mark Williams
- Michael White
Wales are set to be led by their top two ranked players in Mark Williams and Michael White, Williams having been cleared to play despite currently carrying a shoulder injury that has troubled him in recent weeks.
In the event that Williams is unable to play, the next Welshman in line on the ranking list is world number 20 Ryan Day.
- Zhou Yuelong
- Yan Bingtao
Uniquely, the choice of players for the China B team came down to the CBSA, who were not restricted by the official world ranking list.
In the circumstances, they have selected two young players in Zhou Yuelong and Yan Bingtao, on account of the duo being the last two winners of the IBSF World Championship.
Republic of Ireland
- Fergal O’Brien
- Ken Doherty
Experienced duo Fergal O’Brien and Ken Doherty will represent the Republic of Ireland once again at the World Cup, having done so as far back as 1996 when they made it to the final, as well as more recently in 2011 when they lost to eventual winners China in the quarter-finals.
- Kurt Maflin
- Anita Maflin
Remarkably, Norway will be represented by husband and wife duo Kurt and Anita Maflin, in what will surely prove to be a unique experience for both of them.
Kurt’s place was of course guaranteed due to his professional status and world number 37 ranking.
Anita meanwhile has been selected on merit by the national governing body in Norway from the three other Norwegian players to have participated at a European Tour event this season, all of whom were unable to win a match and therefore finished level on the European Order of Merit.
- Dechawat Poomjaeng
- Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Thailand will be represented by Dechawat Poomjaeng and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, their two highest ranked players on the main tour at the end of the 2014/15 season.
- Luca Brecel
- Thomas Skalski
Belgium will be led by BetVictor Welsh Open semi-finalist Luca Brecel, who finished the season ranked up inside the top 48 for the first time in his career.
He will be joined by amateur Thomas Skalski, who was one of 16 Belgian players aside from Luca to have entered a European Tour event this season, without winning a match and was selected by the national governing body to represent his country.
- Aditya Mehta
- Pankaj Advani
Sole Indian professional Aditya Mehta is back to lead his country at this year’s World Cup and will be joined by former professional Pankaj Advani, who was selected by his national governing body after no other Indian player, other than Mehta, entered either a European Tour or Asian Tour event during the 2014/15 season.
- Andreas Ploner
- Paul Schopf
The first country in this list with no current professionals, Austria will be represented by Andreas Ploner and Paul Schopf .
In the case of Ploner, he was the highest placed Austrian player on the 2014/15 European Order of Merit, having won one match against Finland’s Robin Hull at the Riga Open.
Schopf meanwhile was selected by the national governing body, despite not having entered a European Tour event during the course of the season.
- Igor Figueiredo
- Itaro Santos
Outgoing professional Igor Figueiredo leads the Brazilian team in Wuxi and will be joined by Itaro Santos, who as winner of the 2015 Pan American Championship will turn professional at the start of the 2015/16 season.
No Brazilian other than Igor entered either a European or Asian Tour event this season, so Santos was the choice of the Brazilian national governing body.
- Tony Drago
- Alex Borg
Experienced duo Tony Drago and Alex Borg will represent Malta once again at the World Cup as the country’s only current professional players.
- Ahmed Saif
- Ali Alobaidaly
As Qatar’s only professional during the course of the 2014/15 season, Ahmed Saif will lead his country at the World Cup and will be joined by amateur Ali Alobaidaly in Wuxi.
Only Saif competed at either a European or Asian Tour event this season, so Alobaidaly has been selected by his national governing body to represent his country this summer.
- Hossein Vafaei Ayouri
- Ehsan Heydari Nezhad
Reigning IBSF World U-21 champion Hossein Vafaei Ayouri qualifies to represent Iran at the World Cup as the country’s only current professional and will be joined by Ehsan Heydari Nezhad, who as in the case of Alobaidaly for Qatar, has been selected by his national governing body.
- Thor Chuan Leong
- Mohd Reza Hassan
Again, Malaysia are a country with just one current professional player, Thor Chuan Leong, who will be joined in Wuxi by Mohd Reza Hassan who has been selected for the team by the Malaysian national governing body.
- Mateusz Baranowski
- Adam Stefanow
Although Kacper Filipiak finished as the highest ranked Polish player on the European Order of Merit, the youngster is not available to play due to his studies.
Instead, it is Mateusz Baranowski and Adam Stefanow who will represent the country at this year’s World Cup.
Both played at the 2015 Gdynia Open and have been selected by the national governing body to play in Wuxi.
- Lukas Kleckers
- Felix Frede
19-year-old Lukas Kleckers will be joined in the German team by Felix Frede, both of whom entered European Tour events during the course of the 2014/15 season.
- Hamza Akbar
- Muhammad Sajjad
Pakistan’s team will be led by newly crowned Asian Champion Hamza Akbar, following his 7-6 victory against Pankaj Advani in Malaysia last month.
He will be joined by Muhammad Sajjad, who has been nominated by his national governing body on the basis of his past Asian Championship results.
United Arab Emirates
- Khalid Alkamali
- Mohamed Shehab
The United Arab Emirates will be led by Khalid Alkamali and Mohamed Shehab, both selected by their national governing body as no players from the country competed at professional level during the 2014/15 season.
- Marvin Lim Chun Kiat
- KK Chan
Finally, as with the United Arab Emirates as described above, Singapore will be led by Marvin Lim Chun Kiat and KK Chan, as nominated by their national governing body with no players from the country having competed at professional level during the course of last season.