Q School is World Snooker’s latest method of producing qualifiers for the main tour.

There have been many over the years. Originally players had to be formally invited by existing players. Later there was the Pro Ticket series then the game went open, then there were qualifying schools and play-offs and a Challenge Tour and an Open Tour and the PIOS and...well, here we are with Q School.

The format is very simple: anyone can enter if they pay £1,000. There are three tournaments. The semi-finalists in each will qualify for the world ranking circuit in 2011/12. 124 players have entered.

As John Parrott said on the BBC last week, there are a lot of players who feel they may be good enough to be professionals. Now is the time to find out.

The entries include new, young players, some old stagers and several players from outside the UK.

It starts on Wednesday with the likes of David Gray, a former Scottish Open champion, Lee Walker, who once reached the Crucible quarter-finals, and Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon, the Thai teenager who made a 147 on the main tour last season in action.

Luca Brecel is also listed, although it’s been reported he has received a World Snooker wildcard (he would have been on the circuit last season after winning the European amateur title but was too young).

Mike Hallett and Tony Knowles, two of snooker’s leading lights in the 1980s/early 90s, will play each other in the first round.

Reanne Evans, the women’s world champion, who failed to win a main tour match last season, faces Sachin Plaha.

It’s an eclectic line-up. Mohammed Raoof, an Indian doctor, will play Craig Barber.

Thai legend James Wattana faces young Sean O'Sullivan.

Jason Tart, a nephew of Stephen Hendry, tackles James Loft.

It’s hard to predict exactly who will come through all of this but I’d be surprised if eight or nine of the qualifiers weren’t players who had already been on the main tour, and some of these probably on it last season.

Kurt Maflin, who impressed in qualifying for the China Open, would be a likely candidate.

This system is tough for players, say, unwell but sport is tough full stop. If you look at the top players of today, everyone of them has come through a qualifying system of some sort – with both merits and negative aspects – and they have all reached the top through their talent and application.

The Q School is certainly a cheaper option than the PIOS and even if players are unsuccessful they can still enter the 12 PTCs.

This is a little like school exams, with all the nerves that they involve, so I wish all players the best of luck.


Good Idea said...

Personally the q-school should stay and they should allow players who may have not entered q-chool or couldnt make the semis to have a chance to qualify for ranking events by paying per event. That way Q-school will be cheaper, which i think will be fair. Also players can try to qualify for their local tournaments. Good for international players.

snoopy2608 said...

have heard there may be as many as 4 wildcard spots available and that they have been offered to:

Pengfei (or maybe Li Hang)
an Indian player

if there are any walkovers in round 1 od q school this may give some clues to these rumours.

jamie brannon said...

Be delighted if Wattana got one, although not sure about the validity of such a decision.

The Thai star actually hit the highest break of the World Championship this year, if you include the pre-qualifying phase.

Betty Logan said...

I think I'd do away with tour qualifiers and Q-school and back-end the PTC onto the Main Tour. Reduce the main tour to 32, and make tournaments last 64 with 32 qualifiers drawn from the top 32 on the PTC. That way players who "lose" their main tour spot wouldn't have to wait a season to get back on, and in theory anyone could enter the PTC, have a good run and play in tournaments. No doubt an anon will come along and call me dimmer than blackout or something, but it would make the tour more open for everyone without having to hold masses of qualifiers for each event.

Anonymous said...

Yay, Tony Knowles!!!! The eighties personified.

Sparky said...

Kind of a strange way to put it: That the SEMIFINALISTS go through.

The semifinals and finals of each Q-tournament won't actually be played, so in fact, what we have is twelve different Q-tournaments with the WINNERS going through!

kildare cueman said...

I wouldn't dismiss Betty's suggestion, but the nett result would effectively be the game going open again.

I would like to see something similar, but instead would like to see a PTC style event played prior to each tournament, with the last 32 qualifiers playing players ranked 65-96 in the first round proper.

Winners would play those ranked 33-64 with the victors playing the top 32.

These qualifying competitions would be self financing with entry fees and could be played during invitation tournaments, thereby using very little calendar time.

The PTC's could still be played, but regular ranking winners would recieve 10,000 points, the UK and World Open(upgraded to best of 17 and held overseas) would provide 14000 for the winner, and the W orld Champ recieving 18000.

These increased tariffs would allow successful players the luxury of not having to enter the PTC's.

With far more players now involved, there would be even more fluidity of the system, and make it even easier for the cream to rise to the top.

Anonymous said...


in fact that is not a bad call at all

Anonymous said...

betsy, youre dimmer than a blackout
my name is John Clarke
make you feel better that its no anonymous?

seriously though, decent idea that could work...

Anonymous said...

I'll be cheering for Robin Hull!

Janie Watkins said...

The Indian player is Lucky Vatnani.

Anonymous said...

Lucky Lucky.

Johan said...

Apparently, James Wattana will be on the main tour, as Sean O’Sullivan got a bye in the first round, twittering Wattana got a wildcard.

Rob said...

I remember Lucky from the British unis snooker championship a few years ago (think he went to Sheffield?). He was easily playing a few levels above anyone else there - be interesting to see how he does in this. Good luck to him.

Anonymous said...

Damn, now there won't be any snooker until september...

Oh wait, Barry Hearn is in charge! Get ready to chalk those cues fellas, we are about ready to go!

jamie brannon said...

Nice to see Mitchell Mann make progress.

The most interesting result was the exit of Li Hang. Given the poor standard yesterday, would have fancied Hang to make an impact on cue school, especially after his confidence boosting run at the recent China Open.

Anonymous said...

he didnt want to hang around

Dave H said...

Interestingly the lad who beat him - Joel Walker - was coached by Ronnie O'Sullivan on the Riley's Future Stars scheme

Anonymous said...

Joel didnt want a Walkerover

jamie brannon said...

The smart money will be on Tian Pengfei securing a card.

Just looked at the World Snooker site and no mention of these wildcard decisions but guess the absence of Brecel, Wattana and Vatnani effectively confirms the selection.

jamie brannon said...

Our brief three-way discussion about Li Hang has disappeared!

A bit preplexed said...

Hi Dave ,Will the losing players in Q-school get free admission to the ptc events? It seems to be suggested at the end of this article. Probably they should

Dave H said...

No they won't.

Any comments submitted between Wednesday and last night were automatically deleted by Blogger which had a major problem for this time.

Betty Logan said...

I think it would be very decent of World Snooker to allow them free entry into the PTC. It must be pretty sickening to cough up £1000 and not qualify.

Dave H said...

It's not a charity, it's a business.

It's also supposed to be about excellence. If you're not good enough, bad luck.

A bit preplexed said...

I thought it may be good for giving free ptc entries, as it will increase the number of players playing the ptcs (which in turn increases the validity of the tournaments) and gives the players more experience. Many players in the q-school havnt even played an single ptc. If they get more experience they feel more confident and then they may enter next year. Meaning more money for WS.

Betty Logan said...

I see what you are saying Dave, you can't complain about losing you grand since you get the same chance as everyone else, but there are probably many players who are good enough though who won't make the cut, that is just the reality of professional sport; another day and the result might be reversed. I think there is a place for meeting the "just misses" halfway: someone who reaches the quarter-finals and just misses the cut probably deserves a break. It's World Snooker's prerogative of course, but personally I think it's a good idea if they do it because you can look at that £1000 as more of a career investment in the line of college tutition fees than say a failed gamble.

Dave H said...

But surely it would be crazy if someone not good enough to be a professional had free entry to the PTCs while the world champion had to pay to play.

It's a level playing field: the opportunities are there but, as in any sport, it's survival of the fittest.

Betty Logan said...

It all depends on how you look at it: another way is that winners get on to the tour, and the losing quarter-finalists win back their Q school entry fee as a runners-up prize (which World Snooker kindly re-invests as their PTC entry fees!). It's not like the world champion pays £1200 and the near misses have paid nothing — they've already handed over a thousand quid! There can only be 12 losing quarter-finalists at most, and if your quarter-final match goes to the wire it's a bit harsh that you don't get any more than the chap who went out in round 1! There is nothing inherently unfair about an "all or nothing" approach so I don't criticise the WSA for it, but I think there is room for a "middle" prize i.e. 12 players pay their entry onto the tour, and the next 12 pay their entry onto the PTC.

Janie said...

why on earth would you give free entry to the PTCs for losing players (or any players for that matter) - more entries would mean more running costs for world snooker in terms of time taken, officials required, hotels, venue costings etc

No one forced anyone to chuck away a grand and enter Q school.

As David says it is a business not a charity.

In Barry's own words "Winners take the cheques, losers make their own arrangements."

Anonymous said...

betty, stop talking absolute rubbish

you pay to qualify.
if you fail, you fail

if you give qf some free entries that wouldnt be fairer. some players could have a much harder "half" of the draw and not get near the QF at all, but theyre still better than some who get to the QFs.

the criteria is set out before the start. you pay you play. you win, you get the prize. you dont, tough!

Betty Logan said...

This is a sport steeped in British tradition, not an American motivational course, Anon, so quit embarrassing yourself — at least Dave and Janie based their views on valid points!

Regarding Janie's point, most businesses invest in recruitment not the other way around. I think it's ok to cover the costs of staging these things with an entry fee, but I'd be very surprised if it costs £124,000 to stage; I bet not even a pro tournament minus prize money costs that much! If World Snooker is profiteering from recruitment then that isn't a proper business model, so I honestly don't see why the excess cash can't be returned as prizes or entry fees in lieu. If that is such a rubbish idea, I presume you back ending prize money in the qualifying rounds? If you don't qualify you've had your chance, but you weren't good enough, so tough luck! It's an absolute joke if the 100k or so generated from amateurs is paid out on World Snooker shares, or used to top up Ronnie's appearance fee, or Steve Davis' boardroom salary.

Anonymous said...

its not a british sport
the sooner you realise that the better
we pander to uk based players enough
tradition means nothing to me, except the WC
youre well known for spouting rubbish on here, along with Jamie B, but even he makes more sense that you these days.

you made one good point on here and everyone posting after it seemed surprised

take a look in the mirror before you think others should be embarassed

jamie brannon said...

I agree with Dave but at first thought £1000 was a little steep for just one match (realise now it's three) given a lot of players may not be that affluent, which slightly contravenes that it is a level playing field in that sense anyway.

However, in general, guess anyone with enough talent to be a professional would find the money somehow.

Plus to have toal fairness is sadly impossible but we should always strive to create as much as possible. I think this initative does this. I would imagine the long-winded PIOS circuit cost players more money with the hotel and travelling costs spread over eight events.

Li Hang was a shock result! Beaten as Dave said by Ronnie O'Sullivan's protege.