The line-up for the 2020 EPSB Finals Weekend is now known following the long-awaited resumption of play in the English national junior snooker championships at the Northern Snooker Centre and Crucible Sports Reading over the past couple of days.
The regional qualifiers for these events took place some 20 months ago before the COVID-19 Pandemic struck, but after a long and busy weekend of action in both the north and south area finals, the last 16 of each competition has been whittled down to just two. These area winners will face each other later this week in Leeds for the national titles.
In the youngest age category, defending English under-14 snooker champion Stan Moody is on course to retain the title after he eliminated Nathan Barton 3-0 and then Ethan Llewellyn 4-0 in the northern area final.
Recent Q School competitor Moody has dropped just one frame in nine matches so far throughout the rejuvenated event that began with 100 entries.
Moody will face southern area champion Dylan Smith after he defeated Thomas Mcevoy 3-0, John Donovan 3-2 and then Oshay Scott 4-3 in a late-night thriller to reach his maiden national final.
Former Welsh Open runner-up Ben Woollaston won this championship in 2001.
Another player on course to defend a title is reigning English under-16 snooker champion Paul Deaville who emerged from a post-midnight finish to win in the north.
Deaville top scored with 74 as he got past Jake Crofts 3-1 first up before ousting Samuel Lee Stevens 3-2 in the area last four. In a repeat of the last national final in this age group from 2019, Deaville had to win the final two frames in order to squeeze past Liam Pullen 4-3. Earlier in the tie, Deaville recorded breaks of 63 and 83.
In the south, Oliver Sykes also needed to come from behind and progress via a deciding frame to book his berth.
Sykes made a 71 in defeating Mitchell Berry 3-1 and then eliminated Riley Ellis 3-0. In the area final, Sykes constructed efforts of 50 and 73 as he recovered from 3-1 down to deny Aidan Murphy 4-3.
Professional ranking event finalists Gary Wilson and Jack Lisowski have won this particular title before.
Sykes’ fantastic weekend didn’t end there, though, as the 15-year-old also made it through to the national final of the English under-18 snooker championship.
Murphy was defeated in the opening round 4-1 before Sykes also ended the campaigns of Halim Hussain 4-2 – with breaks of 65 and 85 – and then Jack Haley 4-1 in the final.
Meeting Sykes at the Northern Snooker Centre this weekend will be professional player Sean Maddocks who also has an opportunity to win a national championship double.
Maddocks was still an amateur when he entered and played the initial rounds of these tournaments. Despite his top-tier experience of the past 12 months, though, he certainly didn’t have it all his own way in Leeds. The Liverpool cueist made breaks of 71 and 54 as he negotiated Pullen 4-2, top-scored with a 62 to pip Ryan Davies 4-3 before a 51 break in the last frame capped off a more comfortable 4-0 victory against Lewis Ullah in the regional final.
In the best-of-13 frames national final, there will be nearly four years difference between the players.
World number one Judd Trump is a former winner of this championship.
The 2020 World Snooker Federation Junior Open finalist Maddocks can also etch his name on the prestigious English under-21 snooker championship trophy – a piece of silverware won by Kyren Wilson in the past.
Maddocks produced a 71 break on his way to dispatching 2019 English under-18 and 6-red champion Jenson Kendrick 4-0 in the first round. A comeback from 2-0 down and a deciding frame was required to defeat Manasawin Phetmalaikul 4-3 in the semis before seeing off Pullen 4-1 in the area final.
Pullen was one of the ironmen of the weekend’s play, reaching the area finals of both the under-21 and under-16 tournaments.
In Reading, Jack Harris kept his nerve amidst several close finishes to emerge as the champion of a very competitive southern region.
Harris opened up with an entertaining victory over under-18 area finalist from the previous day, Haley, recovering from 3-1 down to win 4-3.
Another revival was needed in order to defeat Jed Mann in the next round; claiming the final two frames for another 4-3 win, before a narrowly more comfortable 4-2 success over Halim Hussain in the final.
Earlier in the event, Mann dethroned defending champion Mark Lloyd 4-2, whilst Bradley Cowdroy got the better of current main tour player Jamie Wilson 4-3.
Finals Weekend | The Order of Play
Along with the over-55 championship final which was decided back in October 2019, the schedule for the 2020 EPSB Finals Weekend on the 7th and 8th August at the Northern Snooker Centre is as follows:
Saturday 7th August
Under-14 Championship Final – Best of 9 Frames
Stan Moody v Dylan Smith
Under-18 Championship Final – Best of 13 Frames (Two Sessions)
Sean Maddocks v Oliver Sykes
Over-55 Championship Final – Best of 9 Frames
John Welsh v Ashley Beal
Sunday 8th August
Under-16 Championship Final – Best of 11 Frames
Paul Deaville v Oliver Sykes
Under-21 Championship Final – Best of 15 Frames (Two Sessions)
Sean Maddocks v Jack Harris
All players in the national finals are reminded that it is full dress code.
During the same weekend at the venue, the EPSB will also be hosting its first Women’s Open which features a healthy entry of 21 players. The field includes current English national women’s champion Emma Parker and world number four Rebecca Kenna.
A big thank you to all the officials and to the Northern Snooker Centre and the Crucible Sports and Social Club Reading for their work across the whole of last weekend.