China’s Ma Hai Long beat Stan Moody 5-0 in the final to win the 2023 WSF Championship at the Mounties Club in Sydney, Australia.
The 19-year-old was already assured of qualification to the World Snooker Tour prior to the final, with opponent Moody having already gained his professional card following his victory at last week’s Junior Championship, but underlined his credentials with a dominant display to claim the biggest title on snooker’s amateur calendar.
He becomes the fourth winner of the title since its inaugural staging in 2018 and the third from China, to follow in the footsteps of Luo Honghao and Si Jiahui, who also both claimed whitewash successes in their respective finals.
With both players assured of their professional status next season, a free-flowing match was anticipated by many observers, only for the opening exchanges to prove hard fought as Ma established an early 2-0 lead with a top run of 40 in a little under an hour.
A student of the CBSA Academy, Ma visibly gained confidence as the match progressed, limiting England’s Moody to just 15 points during the following two frames and a match high break of 78 helping him to within a frame of glory.
After the resumption of play following the mid-session interval it was Moody who threatened to extend the match into a sixth frame, but a miss on the final red would prove costly as Ma produced a classy clearance to secure the title.
“I was very excited to play in this final,” said Ma. “Even though I was already guaranteed the World Snooker Tour card, that was always in the back of my mind and I just wanted to take one ball at a time and to get the win.
“I know that in the history of this event, players from China have been very successful and as a young player I did not want to let China down. Not only for myself, but the other young players in our country.”
Ma was competing in his first major international tournament following the COVID-19 pandemic and showed his determinaton throughout the week, regularly coming back from behind in frames to secure victory. Having enjoyed the experience and claimed the ultimate prize, he is now already looking forward to competing on the professional circuit and will be moving to the UK.
“I have won frames from needing three or four snookers in the past,” explained Ma. “I drew inspiration from that and in such a big event like this wanted to never give up.
“I am now very excited to join the professional tour and meet players like Mark Selby, to play him in a big competition. I cannot wait to play in the tournaments that I have seen on television and to play in the famous snooker venues around the world.”
Both Ma and Junior champion Moody were presented with their trophies by dignitaries including WSF President Jason Ferguson, General Secretary Maxime Cassis, WSF Treasurer Mike Peachey and Frank Dewens, President of the Australian Billiards and Snooker Council.