The eight-man Challenge Tour Play-Off event, with one place on the World Snooker Tour available for the winner, will take place at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield on July 20th.
The event was originally scheduled for March 29th in Clacton-on-Sea but was then postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will now take place in Sheffield, the day before the start of the Betfred World Championship qualifiers.
The Play-Off features the eight highest ranked players on this season’s Challenge Tour rankings, to have not yet earned professional status for next season. The winner will receive a two-year card for the World Snooker Tour.
The draw will be announced shortly.
Regulations on Covid-19 testing, sanitisation and social distancing at the Play-Off will follow the government guidelines at the time. There will be no access for spectators.
With Ka Wai Cheung not entering, the eight players in the draw should be: Dean Young, Adam Duffy, Oliver Brown, Alan Taylor, Patrick Whelan, Rory McLeod, Jake Nicholson and Tyler Rees.
When I pointed out that snooker clubs not being able to open for what should be their main business, snooker, means that many players will find it difficult to prepare properly, Matt Huart pointed out that WST players are still able to practice, provided that those guidelines are followed.
The guidance is aimed at “elite athletes” and elite atheletes are defined as:
For the purposes of this guidance the definition of an ‘elite athlete’ means a person who is:
• an individual who derives a living from competing in a sport
• a senior representative nominated by a relevant sporting body
• a member of the senior training squad for a relevant sporting body, or
• aged 16 or above and on an elite development pathway
I’m the one who put the last part in bold-italic
The 8 guys above are not pros. They are amateurs. Therefore they clearly don’t fit in any of first three categories. But could they be seen as being on an elite development pathway, because they are playing on the Challenge Tour, and because that tour is one of the path to actual professional status?
I think it’s an important question to answer, because, otherwise, those who don’t have a table at home, definitely won’t be able to prepare properly.
Then, of course, the same question applies to those amateurs inivited to the World Championship and those entering the Q-school? The Q-school is the main “road” to professional status.
And there is also that restriction about age in those guidelines. That restriction doesn’t exist anymore in snooker (*) , it is possible to turn professional before being 16, and there will probably under-16 amateurs at the Q-school. Then what?
(*) I don’t agree with having under-16 children turning pro. I don’t agree with the “If they are good enough, they are old enough” say. They might be technically good enough, it doesn’t mean that they have the maturity to cope with the obligations, and the pressure of professional sport. I think that there have been enough examples in the past of very promising players who never made it because, clearly, they weren’t mentally and emotionally ready and then were left with damaging scars. And not just in snooker BTW.