UK Championship: Vafaei Heroically Beats Selby After Thrilling Finish

It was a thrilling night of action at the UK Championship
22:56, 28 Nov 2021

The reigning world champion and world number one Mark Selby has been dumped out of the UK Championship by Iranian superstar Hossein Vafaei after an exceptional finish. The world number 63 flew out of the blocks against his illustrious opponent and went into a 5-0 lead, with it looking as if he could whitewash Selby, as he had done to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the German Masters last month.

However, Selby is made of stern stuff and proved he had the stomach for the fight with a run of 80 that saw him bring the scores back to 5-2. Then we entered the dramatic eighth frame, which produced drama that proved exactly why we love this sport so much. 

Selby missed a shot on the pink to seal the frame, before Vafaiei missed his opportunity on the black. When it looked as if the world number 63 had wasted his chance, Selby handed him a further opportunity by potting the cue ball as he sunk the black. 

After a re-spot on the black, which saw both players posting safety percentages in the mid 80s, Vafaei came up with an improbable shot off the cushion to find the middle pocket. It was an absolutely sensational match of snooker and the momentum swung on more than one occasion per frame but in the end the Iranian was the rightful winner and he did it in exceptional circumstances. 

“Just go for the first thing [that appeared]” he told EuroSport after the surprise win. “I think today I was a little bit lucky, but I played better than Mark i think today. I feel sorry for him but total respect to him, he is one of the legends.

“We all learn from our legends, hopefully our legends respect each other more than before. I watched them to learn and now I am playing in front of them. I was up for it. How long am I going to wait? I don’t want to lose my time.”

In the last eighteen months, Vafaei - who has faced huge Visa challenges in a bid to participate in these events - has beaten Ronnie O'Sullivan 5-0 at the German Masters and beaten Judd Trump beaten at the Welsh Open. So what makes him so good against the top ten players?

“I don’t know, I just love to play them. I know the game they play, I think they know the game I play. In a few months I was more negative, now I have decided to go and enjoy it. What’s the worst that is going to happen?”

That was the main event of the night but on the other tables in the evening session, Stuart Bingham made the last 16 with a comfortable 6-2 win over Stuart Carrington and Graeme Dott won by the same scoreline over world number 47 John Robertson. Mark Williams flew into a 3-0 against Anthony Hamilton but was pegged back to 4-4, and then ended up 5-4 down late into the night. 

Evening session results

Hossein Vafaei 6-2 Mark Selby

Stuart Bingham 6-2 Stuart Carrington

Anthony McGill 6-4 David Grace

Zhou Yuelong 6-2 Ashley Hugill

Graeme Dott 6-2 Jimmy Robertson

Tom Ford 5-6 Luca Brecel

Jordan Brown 6-1 Farakh Ajaib

Mark Williams 5-6  Anthony Hamilton

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