The second session of the WSS ROKiT 2019 World Championship at the Crucible will start on August 15, 2919 at 2pm, and first at the table will be James Wattana from Thailand and Wael Talaat from Egypt.
James Wattana of course is a legend of the game. James first came to prominence when, in 1886, aged only 16, he won the Thailand Masters as an amateur, beating Terry Griffiths in the final. Three years later, he turned proffessional. He went on to win three ranking events, to climb as high as number three in the world and to make three 147.
The second of those maximum breaks came at the 1992 British Open, and lasted just over 7 minutes, a record at the time. The funny thing is that his opponent was Tony Drago, probably the fasted player on the tour. You can watch it here:
James also had a maximum against Ronnie O’Sullivan 😉
James Wattana was the first Asian player to reach the top levels in snooker and inspired a generation of aspiring players in Asia. He is a God in his country.
At 49, James is still competing on the Main Tour, under an invitational card. On form he remains a beautiful player to watch.
Wael Talaat on the other hand is not really well known. He’s from Egypt and lives in Caïro. In his country, he is hugely respected as a player and as a coach. He was African Champion on three occasions – in 2007, 2009 and 2011 – and was runner-up four times as well in 2002, 2010, 2016 and 2017.
Wael had a short spell on the Main tour. In 1998 he played nine matches as a professional, but failed to win a single one of them. (source cuetracker)
In 2015, he requalified for the Main Tour, as Runner-up in the African Championship. However he only played in one event, the 2015 Six Reds World Championship, losing all five matches he played. (source cuetracker)
That doesn’t look very promising, but bear in mind that African players probably don’t have the kind of opportunities to play, nor the conditions and opposition they would need to reach their full potential.
Wael does not have a profile on wikipedia.
Based on the players respective records, and considering that James Wattana is still playing on the professional circuit, and is familiar with the Crucible surroundings, I have to make the Thai legend a strong favourite. Whatever happens though, I hope that Wael Talaat will have the opportunity to show what he can do, and more importantly will enjoy the occasion. Prediction: James Wattana to win.