At the time of writing, the Championship League Snooker 2020 Group 7 is underway, with the play-offs to be contested between John Higgins, Graeme Dott, David Gilbert and Mark Williams.
Earlier this week, the last two events of the Challenge Tour 2019/20 were played. Ashley Hugill topped the rannking list, but, as he already got his tour card back by winning the WSF event in Malta, it’s the runner-up, Lukas Kleckers who gets the first tour card avzailable through the Challenge Tour.
Kleckers, age 23 from Essen, finished second in the Challenge Tour rankings after ten events, behind only Ashley Hugill. Englishman Hugill had already secured a tour card by winning the World Snooker Federation Open in January. So Kleckers was next in line to earn the automatic tour place available from the Challenge Tour.
Players ranked third to tenth in the Challenge Tour rankings will qualify for the Play Off tournament on March 29th in Clacton. The winner of that event will also earn a World Snooker Tour card for the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons.
Kleckers won Challenge Tour event eight in Tamworth in January. He also reached the semi-finals of three other events and has now been rewarded for his consistency.
At the age of just 17, Kleckers won the German national Championship. He turned pro in 2017 after coming through Q School and competed on the pro tour for two seasons. He has reached the last 32 of five ranking events, including the Riga Masters three times, and scored wins over the likes of Neil Robertson and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.
WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “On behalf of WPBSA and WST I’d like to congratulate Lukas for his superb performances on the Challenge Tour this season. He fully deserves his place back on the World Snooker Tour and we look forward to seeing him compete at the top level over the next two seasons.
“Snooker has grown dramatically in Germany over the past decade and we are delighted to see young talent like Lukas coming through and enjoying success. I hope his achievements will be an inspiration for young players across Germany and further afield.
“The standard of play on the new Challenge Tour this season has been outstanding and it provides a platform for developing talent to thrive and chase their dreams. The Play Off event later this month will feature eight fantastic players with a huge prize at stake. Let the best man win!”
Lukas’ first experience as a pro was quite disappointing and it will be interesting to see if competing in the Challenge Tour has helped him to make the improvements he needs.
Good luck Lukas!
A second tour card will be given to the winner of the play-offs event. The eight players competing in this one are Andrew Pagett, Dean Young, Rory McLeod, Oliver Brown, Ka Wai Cheung, Alan Taylor, Jake Nicholson and Patrich Whelan, in order of Challenge Tour rankings.
Why O’Sullivan remains a serious contender to win sixth world title
There is one thing in this article I fully agree with: coming to Sheffield with no expectations on his shoulders could help Ronnie massively. The last two World titles came when nobody expected him to win. In 2012 he only just had avoided the qualifiers and his whole season had been marked by ilnesses (hence withdrawals) and a number of early defeats in the major events. In 2013 he had only played one match all season, in a PTC, and had lost it. The last two seasons have been the complete opposite: they were outstanding, with record breaking performances … until the Crucible. That said, I’m not overly optimistic.
Regarding the other contenders, and Trump in particular, it could play the other way around. All the media attention will be on Judd Trump, all the hype and pressure. If this season UK Championship and Masters are anything to go about it might be his undoing. The early rounds will be telling.