Can the Dynamic Iranian Duo Improve Their Snooker World Rankings?

When the popularity of professional snooker began to boom, following the launch of several major tournament championships in the late 1970s early 1980s, initial participants typically hailed from the United Kingdom and several of the British Commonwealth countries. Now the sport enjoys a much greater international flavour, with competitors increasingly hailing from all corners of the globe.

During the 2021-22 season, the vast majority of competing players are still from the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland), where most of the professional World Snooker Tour events are held. However, there are now more professional players from China than ever before, along with several from Thailand, as the popularity of snooker continues to grow throughout Asia.

In recent decades, this has included competitors hailing from Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries. Breaking into the official World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) rankings is far from easy, although two promising talents from Iran have managed to do so in recent years.

Hossein Vafaei

Known to fans of snooker as โ€˜The Persian Princeโ€™ in homage to his homeland, Hossein Vafaei was the first Iranian professional snooker player in the history of the game. After making excellent progress in the amateur and under-21 scenes, he won three amateur events. They were the World Amateur Snooker Championship in 2011, the ACBS Asian Under-21 Championship in 2012, followed by the World Amateur Under-21 Snooker Championship in 2014.

After turning professional, the biggest problem for Vafaei had nothing to do with his talents on the snooker table. Unfortunately, geopolitics hampered his prospects of competing at the highest level, due to visa problems which denied him entry into the United Kingdom, where most of the major snooker championship events are held. Initially limited to participating exclusively in Tour events held in Asian countries, Vafaei was finally granted a UK visa in February 2015, allowing him to participate fully during the 2015-16 season.

Since then, Vafaei has continually improved and steadily climbed up the WPBSA rankings, reaching the last 16 at several major Tour events. The talented Iranian player has also reached three tournament semi-finals, doing so at the 2017 China Open, 2019 Welsh Open, and the 2019 China Championship. Having reached the Fourth Round of the 2021 British Open, followed by the First Round of the 2021 English open, Vafaei is currently ranked at 63 in the WPBSA rankings, last updated on 8 November 2021.

Providing the 27-year-old can continue his exciting level of performance, there are no limits to the potential of what he Vafaei can achieve, much to the delight of his Iranian fans back home. They might find a complete guide to the best Arabic betting sites useful, which also features content available in the Persian language, detailing how and where to wager from the MENA countries. This includes tips on the safest and most secure online betting options, along with tips and betting information about all the most popular sports, including snooker.

Soheil Vahedi

Fortunate enough to avoid the visa problems that Hossein Vafaei endured, when he first turned professional, Soheil Vahedi was the next Iranian rising snooker star. Although several years older than his compatriot, after winning the World Amateur Championship in 2016, Vahedi had firmly announced himself on the global stage. This earned him a two-year card on the professional World Snooker Tour, along with appearances at most of the major Tour events held in the United Kingdom.

During his first two seasons as a professional snooker player, Vahedi found the competitive pace difficult. His best finishes during the 2017-18 campaign included the Second Round of the Welsh Open, along with the Third Round of the Gibraltar Open. The 2018-19 season was even tougher, only registering Second Round finishes at the Welsh Open and the Scottish Open. Despite finishing outside the top 64, Vahedi came through Q-School with five wins, earning another two-year card on the World Snooker Tour.

Progress continued and in the 2019-20 season, Vahedi reached the Third Round at the Shoot-Out event and the Fourth Round of the Welsh Open. Unfortunately, form dipped in the 2020-21 campaign, although he did reach the Fourth Round of the 2021 Gibraltar Open. Having peaked at 80 in the professional rankings, Vahedi has reverted to amateur status, although he did qualify for both the British Open and the English Open in 2021. With a little more time and practice, this talented Iranian snooker player will be aiming to earn another Tour card in the future.