The long-awaited return of the World Women’s Snooker Championship is almost upon us, with the draw and format now available ahead of the biggest tournament on our calendar.
To be held at the Ding Junhui Snooker Academy in Sheffield, the tournament will see over 50 of the world’s best women snooker players battle it out to lift the Mandy Fisher Trophy, last won by world number one Reanne Evans in Thailand in the summer of 2019.
For the first time there will be the added incentive for all players with the knowledge that a coveted place on the World Snooker Tour will await the champion (should they not already have one), as well as the opportunity to become just the 13th new winner of the title or – in the case of Reanne Evans and Ng On Yee – keep the number at 12 with a repeat triumph.
With only Jaique Ip Wan In missing from the Tour’s top 14 ranked players, the field is one of high-quality and also a diverse one, with 15 countries represented. In addition to the top two there are a further four former ranking event winners set to compete, as well as reigning World Cup winners Baipat Siripaporn and Waratthanun Sukritthanes and several other distinguished players.
Below we preview each of the 12 round robin groups, with the top two from each set to progress to the knockout rounds…
The first group in the draw is led by defending champion and world number one Reanne Evans, with the top seed chasing back to back world titles for the first time since 2013 and 2014.
Since she opened the season with victory at the UK Women’s Championship back in September, England’s Evans has narrowly lost out in subsequent finals to Ng On Yee and Nutcharut Wongharuthai and will therefore be hoping to reassert her dominance at a tournament that she has won on 12 of its past 15 stagings.
Among those most immediately in her path is compatriot Mary Talbot-Deegan, a former World Championship quarter-finalist (1997), who returned to the circuit this season following a 19-year absence and has notably topped this season’s EPSB English national rankings following six events played.
Completing the group are Russia’s Mariia Shevchenko – who has twice reached the last 16 at the UK Championship, and talented young juniors Laura Killington and Sophie Nix, who will all be competing in their first World Championship.
Hong Kong’s Ng On Yee enjoys a formidable recent record at the World Women’s Snooker Championship, having claimed the title on three of its past stagings, most recently in 2018 without the loss of a single frame.
Victory for the current world number two in Sheffield would see her become just the fourth player to win four or more world titles behind only Evans, Allison Fisher (7) and Kelly Fisher (5).
Champion at the Eden Women’s Masters in November – her only appearance of the season so far – Ng occupies an otherwise all English group which includes Jan Hughes – the oldest player in the competition at 73 – as well as Louise Cothier and Elizabeth Black.
Our most recent ranking event champion, Thailand’s Nutcharut Wongharuthai will be hoping to go one better than in 2019 when she lost out 6-3 to Reanne Evans in the title match at the Hi-End Snooker Club.
The world number three heads into this year’s tournament on the back of not only her second WWS crown, but also an eye-catching run on the WPBSA Q Tour, which saw her win five matches against male players before losing out to Ben Mertens at the quarter-final stage.
Among those standing in her way in Group C will be England’s Jamie Hunter, who notably won back-to-back EPSB titles just over a week ago in Fareham, as well as China’s Lynn Shi, who made her debut on Tour at last month’s British Open in Leicester.
Finally, the trio will be joined by 13-year-old Australian Lily Meldrum, who previously competed at the 2019 Australian Open in Sydney and has made the long trip to pit her wits against the world’s best players in Sheffield.
England’s Rebecca Kenna begins her fifth tilt at the world title in Group D and will be looking to improve upon her semi-final runs from 2016-2018 with a strong performance in Sheffield.
Winner of the EPSB Women’s Open back in August, Kenna has been handed a mouth-watering group draw against Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjan – better known as Baipat – in a repeat of their 2019 quarter-final which saw the Thai player claim a dramatic match 4-3 on the final black.
They will be joined by Japanese teenager Miina Tani, who recently reached the last 16 of the Eden Women’s Masters in November, as well as Kate Le Gallez of Guernsey and England’s Laura Gillett, who will both be competing in the tournament for the first time.
Having missed out on the 2019 edition, five-time World Championship runner-up Maria Catalano is back for 2022 and will be targeting a maiden world crown some 24 years on from her debut appearance in the competition.
A semi-finalist at the past two events, Catalano has enjoyed a strong season to date and is joined by compatriot Aimee Benn, a regular on Tour since 2015, but who will be competing in only her second World Championship and first in six years.
Completing the group are 16-year-old Chloe Payne, who made her debut at the British Open last month, and India’s Pooja Galundia, whose first World Championship appearance came in 2001.
Reigning English national champion Emma Parker will be competing in only her second World Championship in Sheffield and will be hoping to better her last 16 run back in Thailand.
Following her run to a fourth ranking event semi-final back at September’s UK Championship, Parker currently occupies a career-high ranking of sixth position and will be hoping to gain further points on those around her having not competed in the event in 2018.
Joining her in Group F are Harriet Haynes and Chrissy Allwood – the latter who reached her maiden ranking event quarter-final earlier this season at the Eden Women’s Masters, as well as Poland’s Ewelina Pislewska, who reached the last 16 at the same competition.
Welsh number one Laura Evans will be aiming to mark 20 years since her World Championship debut with a strong performance in Sheffield and will begin her campaign with an intriguing round robin group.
Among those standing in her way will be talented 19-year-old Shannon Metcalf, as well as multiple ranking event winner Tessa Davidson, who made an impressive return to competition by reaching the quarter-finals of last month’s British Open after 23 years away.
Completing the group are Michelle Brown – who will contest her first World Championship since 2016 some 34 years on from her debut – and Sarah Dunn, who reached the final of the recent Challenge Cup competition in Leicester on her maiden Tour appearance.
Former junior world champion Suzie Terry is a two-time World Championship quarter-finalist who will be targeting a run to the knockout stages for the first time since 2015.
Awaiting her in Group H will be four World Championship debutants including youngster Zoe Killington, who has reached the Under-21 final of the previous two competitions on tour, together with Annamaria Wilkins, Emma Brown and Nat Howard.
Wakefield’s Steph Daughtery is up to a career-high world ranking of number nine and will be competing in her third World Championship following appearances in 2015-16 and 2019.
Having reached the last 24 in Thailand, the 20-year-old will be hoping to progress further still in 2022 and will begin her campaign in a group of four with fellow junior Chloe White, who she played most recently in the Under-21 final at the UK Championship back in September. For White, the tournament will represent her World Championship debut over five years on from her first Tour appearance.
The pair will be joined by reigning World Billiards champion Anna Lynch of Australia and Belgium’s Anja Vandenbussche, whose sole previous appearance in the World Championship came an incredible 33 years ago in 1989, while she has not competed on the Tour at all since 1999.
A quarter-finalist on her World Championship debut back in 2019, Thailand’s Ploychompoo Laokiatphong will make her first appearance of the 2021/22 season in Sheffield.
A two-time ranking event semi-finalist immediately prior to the onset of the pandemic, ‘Ploy’ as she is best known will be hoping to pick up from where she left off with a strong showing in Sheffield.
She will face English duo Jenny Poulter – set to compete in an unprecedented 25th World Championship – and 2015 world junior champion Jasmine Bolsover, as well as Poland’s Izabela Łącka, who is set to make her debut in the competition following a successful weekend at last month’s British Open.
Thailand’s Waratthanun Sukritthanes is set to make her fourth appearance at the World Women’s Snooker Championship, having reached the quarter-final stages on each of her previous three outings.
The tournament will be her first on the Tour since a 4-2 defeat to eventual champion Reanne Evans in the 2019 edition and she will open with matches against England’s Connie Stephens, as well as World Championship debutants Dalia Alka of Poland and Danielle Leadbeater of Guernsey.
Belgian star Wendy Jans claimed a record 13th EBSA European Championship crown last October and has been installed as the tournament’s 12th seed as a reigning regional champion.
Set to make her eighth appearance in the competition, Jans has previously reached the semi-finals on four previous occasions and will be hoping to break her duck by reaching the title match for the first time.
Her quest will begin in a group that includes Diana Schuler of Germany, who reached the last 16 stage of the tournament in 2016 and 2017 before losing to Reanne Evans on both occasions.
The group is completed by English trio Annette Bates, Lesley Roberts and Marianne Williams – the latter a regular on Tour from 1994-2013, who played Jans back in 2003.
Defending champion Ploychompoo Laokiatphong is on a collision course to potentially face top ranked junior Steph Daughtery in the final of this year’s World Women’s Under-21 Championship, which has attracted a strong field which includes players from Japan and Australia.
With 16 entries, the Seniors competition will be contested by its largest field since Mandy Fisher claimed her last WWS title back in 2003 and is set to be extremely competitive with several players set to make their debuts in the competition including Tessa Davidson and Mary Talbot-Deegan.
The action gets underway this Thursday from 10:00am with the start of the Under-21/Seniors competitions, with the main tournament to begin on Friday morning.
The latest match results and standings will be available via WPBSA SnookerScores throughout the five days.