What an exciting week it is for the group of teenagers about to embark on life on the professional circuit for the first time.
Last season’s PIOS produced a crop of young talents who are joining the main tour this season.
Jack Lisowski (19, fittingly, on Friday when the first Players Tour event kicks off) topped the secondary tour rankings.
He’ll be joined by Liam Highfield (19), Anthony McGill (19) and Kyren Wilson (18) as well as Welsh nominee Jak Jones (16).
Adam Wicheard, who is 24, will also be making his debut having come through the English qualifying route.
Adam has more reason to appreciate his chance than most having suffered a personal trauma four years ago when a tumour was found on his spine.
Surgery left him confined to hospital for six months and unable to walk for four. Indeed, he didn’t know at that point whether he’d ever walk again.
Back then, the idea of playing snooker again must have seemed remote so it’s particularly heartening to see him among the 96 players starting out this season.
Lisowski has also come back from illness having been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphona, a form of cancer, two years ago.
Jack is now fit and healthy and obviously looking forward to the pro ranks. Snooker Scene will be following him all season in our ‘On the Tour With’ feature.
These rookies must make staying on the circuit their main priority. They start at a disadvantage with no points from last season to their name (although there will surely be some form of starter points) but at least there are far more counting events now – 14 more in fact – than during last year.
Much will depend on their approach. If they go into the season thinking a load of the old stagers on the tour will be pushovers then they are about to be proved wrong.
The standard is high in the qualifiers and there are several stubborn sorts who aren’t going to let some young, attacking player see a ball if they can possibly help it.
Snooker desperately needs some fresh blood. It’s about time the old order was given a wake-up call and we started seeing a few new faces on our TV screens.
The dream for all the newcomers will be to play on television. The qualifying system is labyrinthine and loaded with pitfalls but, then again, it always has been.
If they are good enough, both in terms of talent and, just as importantly, mental attitude, they will make it eventually.
I hope the new players enjoy the season and it would be great for the game to see a few getting through to the final rounds of major events.
Over to you, lads...