Today saw the conclusion of the Q-School event 2. After two events out of three, eight players have earned a two years professional card: Jak Jones, Sam Baird, Hammad Miah, Sam Craigie, Jordan Brown, Craig Steadman, Lu Ning and Zao Xintong. All of them have been professionals before and six of the eight competed as pros during the 2017/18 season. This means that, for now at least, the Q-School hasn’t produced a “new” pro.
I find this a bit worrying because what it means is that currently the gap between the guys who were not quite good enough to stay on tour and the amateurs who have never been pros is significantly big, and I feel it’s growing because of the current state of the amateur game. That’s why the Challenge Tour will be so important: hopefully it will provide the amateurs who aspire to become pros with the quality opposition and the competitive environment they need to be able to succeed as pros.
This is how things stand for now regarding who will be able to play in the Challenge Tour (source snooker.org) The top 64 amongst the ones who played in the Q-School but didn’t qualify for the Main tour are eligible for the Challenge Tour and it has been confirmed on twitter today that if some of them don’t enter an event, the ones further down the list will be offered the chance.
Other than the Q-School successful there will be a number of “nominations” of course. Over the recent years, nominees from certain regions – from most regions actually – have got very little success as pros, some even not winning a single match over a full season. I feel that this system isn’t right nor fair. I understand that this is part of the efforts to make the game more global but what good does it do when the nominees have next to no chance because they don’t have the required level, mainly because they never had the chance to compete against the type of opposition and under the conditions they find on the main tour? It must be very dispiriting for those players and doesn’t enhance the “global image” of snooker. Wouldn’t it be better for everyone involved to offer those players a full season of scholarship on the Challenge Tour before throwing them in the bear pit that is the Main Tour? Just an idea…
On an other sorry subject, World Snooker has today published two statements regarding players having a case to answer regarding possible match fixing and breach of betting rules. And, for what I understood, more investigations are underway.
I don’t want to prejudge conclusions, but it looks very bad, in particular where Yu Delu is concerned.
In my opinion those are the things that really damage the sport, not the occasional outspoken outburst, breach of etiquette or swearing by players caught in the heat of the moment or the bitter disappointment of a defeat. Also I feel that the (too?) close relationship between WS and the betting industry isn’t helping. During the World Championship I received mails from Worldsnooker inviting me to bet and being possibly rewarded with tickets to the Crucible. At some events, players, I have heard, get goodie bags with “free” betting slips in them; of course they are not supposed to use them on snooker. There are also events like the Shoot-out or the Championship League Snooker that are tailor-made for betting. The Shootout is largely unpredictable and the Championship League has a format that doesn’t necessary motivate players to win at all cost – they might earn more money by losing at the right stage and getting to the next group. Moreover the Championship League is only streamed on betting sites too. For me that’s not a very “healthy” situation.