Newly-crowned African champion Mohamed Ibrahim and WSF Championship runner-up Adam Stefanow will be awarded two-year main tour cards from the start of the 2018/19 season.
After Lyu Haotian climbed into the top 64 in the world rankings at the end of last season despite only completing one year of his own two-year card, an extra place became available on the professional circuit.
Following consultation between World Snooker, the WPBSA, and the World Snooker Federation it has been decided that Poland’s Stefanów is to receive the invitation to join the tour.
Having described the WSF Championship as his “last chance” to qualify for the professional circuit, the tournament proved to be bittersweet for the 24-year-old as he performed brilliantly to reach the final at the Dolmen Hotel, before falling short to eventual champion Luo Honghao of China.
But Stefanów, who for the past three years has lived in Sheffield, will now become the first Polish player to compete on the professional circuit since Kacper Filipiak during the 2011/12 season.
Stefanów said: “This is a dream come true for me. There are millions of people playing snooker around the world and to receive the ticket to the dream that I have had for 13 years of being one of the 128 players to play on the main tour is absolutely fantastic.”
“I feel ready for the opportunity, I am at the perfect age, and I know that I can continue to improve as a player.
“I have been so dedicated to this sport since I was 11 and am so proud that I will be the first player to represent my country on the professional circuit with a two-year tour card.
“Snooker is such a huge sport in Poland and I am determined to be able to do something special for our game.”
WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “It is a pleasure for us to be able to welcome Adam Stefanów to the main tour as the next player in line following his exceptional performance at the WSF Championship in Malta.”
“The WSF is providing inspirational opportunities to amateur snooker players across the globe who demonstrate their commitment to the sport at the highest international level.
“Adam is a hard working passionate player who has improved tremendously in recent times, he is exactly the type of competitor that the World Snooker Tour requires and he thoroughly deserves a chance to compete amongst the world’s best players.”
Meanwhile Egypt’s Ibrahim emerged victorious from a 66-player field competing in Cairo at last week’s African Snooker Championship, defeating countryman Mostafa Dorgham 6-1 in the final to secure the title.
The 28 year-old will join the professional circuit for the first time, although he has previous experience of competing at the highest level at the 2012 6-Red World Championship, where he pushed eventual champion Mark Davis to a deciding frame in Thailand.
The 2018 African Snooker Championship was successfully staged by the African Billiards and Snooker Confederation (ABSC), Africa’s regional governing body which from an early stage has committed its support to the WPBSA and its International Federation structure.
WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson was among those in attendance on the final day of the tournament in Egypt and enjoyed positive dialogue with ABSC President Mohammed Kammah and representatives from national federations in respect of future cooperation.
“I am greatly encouraged by the development work undertaken by Mohammed Kammah and his team at the ABSC for snooker in Africa,” said Ferguson.
“This is a huge region including 54 individual countries and there is real potential for growth which we are now beginning to see become a reality.
“The WPBSA, its group of organisations and the ABSC are the perfect partners to ensure snooker is promoted well across Africa.”
“We are therefore delighted to be able to show our support by welcoming Africa’s latest snooker champion Mohamed Ibrahim to the World Snooker Tour for the first time and we are looking forward to welcoming Egypt and more national federations to the World Snooker Federation over the coming months.
“I am optimistic that this will mark the start of a fruitful cooperation between ourselves and the national federations in Africa that will help us to further grow the sport in this region.”