Michael Wasley is a talented young snooker player from Gloucester who deserves additional respect for being able to solve the Rubik's cube in a matter of seconds (and not, as I used to in my youth, by taking it apart and then reassembling it).
Wasley’s ability to untangle a great enigma may stand him in good stead for when he plays one next week in the first round of the Wuxi Classic.
Ronnie O’Sullivan, who sat out almost all of last season, has entered not only Wuxi but also the European Tour event next month in Bulgaria.
Whether this is because he needs more money for school fees, he missed snooker and wants to make up for lost time or has contractual obligations to fulfil is anyone’s guess, but O’Sullivan’s presence at the SWSA in Gloucester next week will bring interest at a time of year when snooker has traditionally been in hibernation.
He’s playing Wasley because the system has changed. For all ranking events barring Australia, Shanghai and the World Championship, all 128 main tour members start from the beginning.
In this bright, shiny new era of ‘fairness’ this means that Ding Junhui, who is from Wuxi, has had to come back to Britain to qualify for...Wuxi.
He faces Aditya Mehta, who reached the last 16 of last season’s International Championship. The other Indian professional, Pankaj Advani, a quarter-finalist in the Welsh Open a few months back, will provide the first round opposition for Ricky Walden, the defending Wuxi Classic champion.
Steve Davis, having seen off his old foe Stephen Hendry, will play Hendry’s nephew, James Cahill.
The first round winners will all progress to the final stages next month.
I suspect many top 16 players need this like the proverbial hole in the head. It will be interesting to see who has practised and who will be winging it. And despite what they may say, organisers want the top players to qualify.
It’s a great chance for the lower ranked players. For many of them, if they’re going to beat a top player it’ll be in the more prosaic qualifying environment than the big arenas.
However, some of them may in time come to reflect that this new system is not quite the leveller they thought. The previous system was labyrinthine, tough and seemingly endless but playing, for instance, the reigning world champion in round one is going to be a lot tougher than playing someone of a similar ranking.
Still, it’s an exciting time for the new professionals and if I had a hat I would tip it to those who have come through Q School, including Alexander Ursenbacher, from Switzerland, and Ahmed Saif, a Qatari.
In my experience new pros couldn’t care less about whichever system is in place (and there have been a few down the years). They just want to play, and there will be much to play in this coming season.