So the prelude to the 2019/20 season starts today in Wigan
Sixteen players will come out of this eighteen days long process and get a our card for the next two seasons.
I’m not convinced that it’s the best process either.
- being held in the UK only, and quite costly, it introduces a bias in favour of UK players from the start, a bias that will only be reinforced throughout the season by a qualifying system also hosted in the UK only. Non UK players face additional costs – travel and accommodations – and possible visa issues.
- it’s a very short format. Not much time to settle for those unaccustomed to the conditions, therefore favouring the ex-pros over the newbies. It also means that just one slice of luck might have a decisive impact on the outcome of a match.
- there are a lot of byes to the second round, effectively giving a free four points to those who benefit it. This might become critical when it comes to the order of merit. It’s even more critical now that four spots will be allocated via that order or merit. Plus the fact that it’s used to feed the “top-up” system all season long.
What’s the alternative? Lewis will tell us: a “Swiss system”. I agree with him but I doubt that the powers in charge will ever consider that. They – well most of them – probably don’t understand how that works, and, if I’m honest, I believe that most fans wouldn’t either.
Anyway, it’s what it is, and it starts now…
Good luck to all involved.
And … there are players in this draw that were pros this season and have won only two matches over the full last eleven months. They still have a massive advantage over the amateurs because they have been playing in the same conditions for two years. I’m not sure that’s right. I know that this will probably raise outrage, but I would be in favour to put a condition to a minimum of four or five wins during the last season to have a right to be allowed to the Q-school right away. I would rather give them a pass to the challenge tour and a year delay to reflect about whether or not they are really good enough to be professionals.