It’s been all about the World Championship over the last month, but now it’s over and time to look forward to the new season.
Worldsnooker has published a very provisional calendar and you will find it here
As you can see there will be quite a nice break over the summer with little happening before early August. I don’t understand why the qualifiers for the Riga Masters and the “possible ranking event” have to happen so early after the Q-school. If non-UK players get through they might be unable to take part – and get behind ranking wise from the off – due to visa and administrative issues; it happens every year.
Regarding the Q-school, Worldsnooker had published the draws and format for all three events.
The draws for all three 2019 Q School events, and the format of play, are out now. The event runs from May 18 to June 4 at Robin Park Leisure Centre in Wigan.
The four semi-finalists in each event will earn a place on the World Snooker Tour for 2019/20 and 2020/21.
We have three women in the draw: Reanne Evans, Ng On Yee, Rebecca Kenna. It may be surprising but Rebecca Kenna is the one I fancy to have the best chance because she used to play league snooker along the men for years. She’s a hard match player. Two young promising female players who are not there are Ploychompoo Laokiatphong (Ploy) and Nutcharut Wongharuthai (Mink) from Thailand. Mink’s ambition is to compete on the main tour, she made a 147 this season – the first female player to achieve the feat – and Ploy – who is only 16 trains at the Q-House in Darlington when in the UK – showed tremendous potential last month in Leeds. I can only suppose that the cost of the Q-school is too much for them to afford.
We have also a number of very young players, several of them from mainland Europe, and even one Japanese: Aaron Hill, Ben Mertens, Robbie McGuigan (Mark Allen’s stepson), Luke Pinches (Barry Pinches’ son), Ryan Davies, Sean Maddocks, Florian Nüssle, Keishin Kamahashi. Ben Mertens from Belgium is the youngest one in this list, he’s only 14, and he’s the reigning World Open Under-16 Snooker Champion; only 13 at the time, he beat Aaron Hill in the final. For some of those players – the youngest ones from outside UK – it is doubtful that they would be able to compete on the main tour, should they earn a tour card, and this could cause some grief depending how World Snooker decides to re-allocated those tour cards. There are precedents: Yan Bingtao wasn’t given a visa allowing him to work in the UK when he first earned a tour card by winning the World Amateur Snooker Championship in 2014. So why do they enter? Well my guess is that what they aim at is to be able to gain experience by playing in the Challenge Tour. Also education is mandatory for all under-18 in most mainland Europe countries and this could also be an issue; being “home educated” is a possibility, but only under strict conditions.
I’m certain that there are some young Chinese talents in the draw as well, and if Lewis can tell us a bit more about them, I would be grateful.