Name: Hossein Vafaei Ayouri
DOB: 14th September 1994
Turned Pro: 2012
Highest Ranking: 96 (2013)
Highest Break: 81 (2015 World Championship qualifiers)
Career Highlights: 2011 IBSF World Amateur Champion, 2014 World U-21 Champion, 2012 ACBS Asian Under-21 Champion, 2012 Asian Championship semi-finalist, 2011 ACBS Asian Under-21 Championship finalist, 2012 APTC2 last 64
Iran’s Hossein Vafaei first rose to prominence at the 2009 IBSF World U-21 Championship in Iran, where he reached the last 16 before losing to China’s Liu Chuang.
The youngster continued to gain experience on an international stage, narrowly missing out on a place on the professional circuit in 2011/12 when he lost 7-3 to another Chinese player, Cao Yupeng, though he was to go one better a year later, defeating Zhang Anda 6-2 to capture the 2012 title.
His finest triumph of the season however had already taken place in December 2011, when he defeated Welshman Lee Walker to win the IBSF World Amateur Championship in India. Having surrendered a 7-2 lead at one stage, Hossein held his nerve to come through a 10 hour match 10-9 on the black and at just 17 years and 81 days, become the youngest ever winner of the event, taking the record from Welshman Ian Preece.
In doing so, Hossein earned himself a two-year tour card for the professional circuit from 2012/13, though he had already earned experience as a wildcard player during the season at the Shanghai Masters and Haikou World Open tournaments, losing to Fergal O’Brien and Mark King respectively.
Unfortunately for Hossein, he was to suffer from the consequences of the dreaded ‘visa issues’ during the 2012/13 season, restricting his participation to a sole appearance at the APTC2 event, where he defeated Chen Bo to reach the last 64, before losing out to Li Yuan.
Unfortunately Hossein remained unable to compete on tour during the 2013/14 season, however he was to enjoy further success on the amateur stage, defeating Irish amateur Josh Boileau to capture the 2014 World U-21 Championship.
In view of the external circumstances that had prevented him from taking up his main tour place, Hossein was granted an extended tour card for the 2014/15 season, in effect replacing that season’s Americas nomination. Hossein will then take up a further two-year card from the 2015/16 season, starting again on zero points.
Although he was to again find playing opportunities limited in 2014/15, there was to be good news for Hossein as in February 2015 he was finally awarded the elusive UK visa that would allow him to properly begin his professional career.
As a result, the 20-year-old was able to make his World Championship debut at the qualifiers at Ponds Forge, at one stage trailing Anthony McGill 4-3 before the eventual quarter-finalist won the last six frames to claim victory.