Snooker Q School: 2 Year Tour Cards for 12
It is that time of year where Snooker falls off the grid somewhat, becomes a little bit quiet and subdued.
After what is always a very busy second half to the season with many ranking events and of course the World Championships, the end of May and into June always seem a bit perplexing as there is not a lot going on - or that is heard of on the main stream.
There was something quite major taking place last week in Burton-on-Trent though, the not so small matter of the World Snooker Q School.
This year there was a whopping 182 entrants do battle for only 12 two year tour cards.
The field included players that had dropped off the tour this season along with a number of other amateur hopefuls trying to make progress into the professional ranks.
Event number one would see the four semi-finalists gain a two year tour card and it was the time of China to dominate proceedings with Cao Yupeng and Chen Zhe, who have previous tour experience, being joined by Fang Xiongman and England's Christopher Keogan. Xiongman and Keogan will become professionals for the first time during the 2016/17 season.
In the second event there was again four places up for grabs via the tournament but also a further 4 places to the highest ranked players from the Q School order of merit. These places were determined by a number of criteria including frames won, frames lost and highest round reached.
In contrast to event one all 8 of the players reaching the final round, and therefore with a chance of gaining a tour card outright, had previous main tour experience.
John Astley returns to the circuit after being relegated at the end of 2015. He was joined by Michael Georgiou and Welshman David John. For John it ends a 13 year wait. He only previous professional season was in 2002/3.
The last match up saw the very experienced Alex Borg of Malta get back onto the tour at the first attempt after being relegated at the end of this season.
The two qualification tournaments have given us 8 new, or returning, professional players and with an international flavour.
The order of merit list that provided four more players with a two year tour card had a very homely feel. Craig Steadman returns at the first time of asking and along with Adam Duffy and professional tour first-timer Jamie Barrett all reside in England. Rounding out the four was Ian Preece of Wales.
Q School Qualifiers 2016
- Cao Yupeng
- Chen Zhe
- Fan Xiongman
- Christopher Keogan
- John Astley
- Michael Georgiou
- David John
- Alex Borg
- Craig Steadman
- Adam Duffy
- Jamie Barrett
- Ian Preece
The World Snooker Tour actually returns on Saturday with the start of a full week of qualification tournaments for the Indian Open, World Open and the Riga Masters respectively.
The first full ranking event in the new season will be the Indian Open that takes place between the 5th and 9th July.