Pankaj Advani has won the IBSF World Amateur Championship for a third time after beating Amir Sarkhosh 8-2 in the final in Qatar.
The Indian, who also won the tournament in 2003 and 2015, was one of the pre-tournament favourites and duly delivered again on the big stage to record yet another world crown.
The triumph represents Advani’s 18th global glory across all cue sports, with an incredible baker’s dozen coming under his more favoured billiards discipline.
The 32 year-old, a mega star in India, briefly plied his trade on the professional Main Tour, reaching a career high of number 56 in the world rankings, but relinquished his card midway through the 2014/15 campaign to concentrate more on his billiards career.
Since then, though, Advani has continued to enter IBSF-led competitions, enjoying plenty of success with two victories in its blue riband championship in the last three editions.
Until this year, the winner of the IBSF World Championship always gained an invitation to compete on the Main Tour but that all changed during the summer with a public and messy fallout in relations between the amateur federation and the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association.
It’s perhaps fitting and a touch ironic then that the player who ends up claiming the title probably wouldn’t have even been accepting any request to join the professional circuit at any rate.
Without the allure of a Main Tour place and the sudden withdrawal from Malta as the scheduled host, it was unsure how this championship would unfold and what level of prestige could now be attributed to its standing in the sport.
That aside, Advani’s success prolonged Asia’s dominance in the tournament in recent years with the continent now boasting ten out of the last eleven winners – including the last eight in a row.
Only two Europeans reached the quarter-final stage, although England and Scotland, both traditional hotbeds for the game, weren’t represented – presumably because of the WPBSA breakaway and the subsequent formation of the World Snooker Federation.
Irish national champion Brendan O’Donoghue narrowly missed out on a semi-final place, fighting back from 5-2 down to force a decider with Iran’s Sarkhosh, only to lose out in agonising fashion 6-5.
Austrian 15 year-old Florian Nüßle was a shock semi-finalist, eventually succumbing to a ruthless Advani at the penultimate hurdle.
Elsewhere, Wendy Jans won the IBSF women’s world title for a seventh time while former world number eight Darren Morgan claimed the Masters trophy.