As if there wasn’t enough pressure trying to qualify for the Crucible, the World Championship qualifiers will also decide who stays on the tour and who gets relegated.
It’s very tough for newcomers to keep their places. Playing on the professional circuit takes some adjusting and there are only eight tournaments in which to do this.
Last night, Daniel Wells edged Ian Preece 10-9. This result gives Wells a chance of staying on the tour but will likely relegate Preece.
Similarly, Liu Song defeated Supoj Saenla 10-9 and will probably now keep his place while Saenla heads back to the PIOS.
Next season’s 96-man main tour is constituted as follows: the top 64 in the end of season rankings, plus the top eight points earners this season not already in the top 64, plus the top eight players from the PIOS, plus 16 players from around the world based on various qualification criteria, i.e. the IBSF world amateur champion.
I hope Wells does stay on. He’s the sort of young player snooker needs.
He was thoroughly professional throughout his year as the WPBSA’s inaugural Paul Hunter Scholar and seems to have the right attitude.
Daniel can’t quite relax yet – as if that’s possible anyway in the World Championship – but at least he’s given himself a chance.
As the qualifiers continue, more players will be thinking about their respective ranking positions.
Some will need to win to stay in the top 64, get in the top 32 or even the top 16.
Bear all this in mind when watching the scores come in.
These guys are under huge pressure. They are not only playing for a place at the Crucible but, in some cases, for their very survival in the professional ranks.