The latest way of joining the professional circuit is Q School, World Snooker’s new qualifying competition that will take place just after the World Championship.

It features three tournaments and the semi-finalists in each will qualify for the 2011/12 pro tour.

Entries are trickling in already and are so far proving popular with players based outside the UK.

The first entry came from Jamie Clarke of Llanelli followed by Belgians Hans Blanckaert and Luca Brecel and Lasse Munstermann of Germany.

World Snooker has also received an entry from Dr. Mohammed Raoof of Hyderabad, India.

The governing body expects a flood of entries as the closing date, March 1, approaches. I know a couple of well known faces considering giving it a go.

There have, of course, been various ways of turning professional over the years. In the 1970s, in almost the definition of a ‘closed shop’, you had to be invited.

Later there was a Pro Ticket Series before the game was thrown open in 1991, where if you paid your money you could play in the qualifiers.

Eventually this became so unwieldy and time consuming that the circuit was cut down once more, but with a Challenge Tour, which evolved into the Pontin’s International Open Series.

Now it’s a case of pay your £1,000, take your chance and if you aren’t good enough, do something else, although with the PTCs there is still plenty of snooker for amateurs to play in.

The drawback with Q School is that it is so self-contained that, for instance, illness could wreck a player’s chances.

Harsh as it sounds, this is just tough. There are plusses and minuses in any system. At least Q School is a level playing field and everyone will know where they stand by early June.

The EASB, Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds and South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester have all set up Q School preparation events in readiness for May.

Mark Williams is among those who believes the new system is fair. Williams, like Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins, was among those who spent weeks at a time in Blackpool in the early 1990s attempting to swim through the glue of endless qualifying rounds.

“You had to win ten or 12 matches just to qualify for a tournament,” Williams said.

“It seemed like you were in Blackpool forever. The way of doing it now with the Q School is much better and easier. The players will only have to be in Sheffield for three weeks and if they are good enough they will get on to the circuit.”


Anonymous said...

good luck LB

though for every good things there can be a drawback

if you are unwell for a week or 2 of the 3 weeks then it could put paid to your chances, whereas....

Betty Logan said...

Don't the top 8 players in the PTC not in the top 64 on the main tour also qualify for the tour, or are amateurs excluded from that?

Overall, condensing the qualification period is a good idea. It effectively opens it up to overseas players who only have to make the one journey and can use up some holiday time. If I were Brecel though I would save my money since he must be a shoe-in for a wildcard.

Janie Watkins - SWSA Media Officer said...

Our first QSP event takes place this Saturday-Sunday.

A good quality field and it will be extremely interesting to see who emerges from the 4 event series at the top of the rankings.

The top 4 players on QSP will get their £1000 paid for Q School so competition is going to be really fierce.

There will be full coverage on South West Academy website and updates on Global Snooker, Pro Snooker Blog etc

Anonymous said...

a small point if closing date is 1st of march what about players currently on the tour that falls bellow no 65 in the rankings how will they know to enter or not until after the World Championship qualifiers at least.

Witz78 said...

If amateurs are among the top 8 in the PTC who are not in the top 64 then they should also get on the tour IMO.

The opportunity to open up the tour as much as possible should be there, and this added incentive for the non tour players would lead to the PTC being far more attractive a proposition as it would almost be a consolation Q school for those who failed to get on tour via the proper Q school.

As things stand in the rankings i see only 5 tour newcomers "safe" in the top 64 at the moment and whilst the gap will close towards the end of the season and a few more should survive at the expense of the likes of Pettman who has tons of points to lose before the end of the season, i still feel the current system is prohibitive to players surviving on tour let alone climbing up the rankings quickly.

Id like to see all the players outwith the top 16 enter the qualifiers at the first stage, albeit seeded as per their rankings.

This way its more of a level playing field in qualifying, all the non top 16 guys start with the same minimum points and have the same number of games to win to make the venue. This would be far fairer than the outdated ladder teired system that still operates and offers protection to many.

Anonymous said...

Witz) The TV broadcasters want the Top 16 to be guaranteed their place and I agree with this.

The non TV PTC series has added the level playing field that was desperately missing before.

As it stands now the balance is just right between the protection side and the opportunity for all mantra.

kildare cueman said...

I'm not sure about Q school. A grand is a bit stiff and the luck of the draw could conspire to thwart the best players who could knock each other out in the early rounds.

There are many colourful good players who will fall off the tour this year that may not return.

The system I would like to see is a national tour of amateur tournaments, similar to the pro-ams of the 90's.

The top 32 amateurs would be allowed enter each pro tournament at the qualifying stage, playing pros ranked 65-96.

Winners would play pros ranked 33-64 with the winners of that round playing the top 32.

Effectively, the game would be open again except that WS would not have the responsibility of running the amateur qualifying.

This would ensure fluidity of rankings and give amateurs a fair start to their pro career.

If a player falls off the tour he has the opportunity straight away to try and get into the amateur top 32 and play in the next pro tournament.

Anonymous said...

kildare cueman

how much does it cost to go to uni for years on the dole.

this is a career opportunity for 12 players. if you dont think you up to that standard dont enter if you do have the talent then £1,000 is not a lot compared to kids going to university.

Betty Logan said...

With tuition fees set to cost £10,000+ a year, and accommodation and living expenses on top of that, university students will be paying in excess of £50k, and while some degrees lead to lucrative careers other do not. £1000 is a low financial risk in comparison, and if you don't make it after three or four attempts then you probably just aren't good enough. For overseas players it probably represents a massive saving compared to having to fly over for PIOS events. For UK based players, I doubt most of the top candidates for the tour will have to find the money themselves. Shaun Murphy for instance procured a £5000 sponsorhip deal at 15 to finance his early career. Even if you can't find a sponsor, in reality the player's club will probably help out if they believe the player has a genuine shot at the tour.

I also think making the first qualification round in the German Masters a 64 man field was a good step in flattening the qualifiers, and hopefully it will carry over to other events.

Anonymous said...

i agree betsy, though i know 888 arent the WC sponsors at present, which is more than you know, so...