The Q-School format is far from ideal, and this year, with the covid-19 situation, it was even more tricky. Early rounds matches were shortened and the first two rounds, of all three events were played on a “roll-off/roll-on” basis so to speak. It was a crazy schedule, and quite difficult as well for the fans who wanted to follow the action.
But here we are and we have out twelve laureates …
Fan Zhengyi, Peter Devlin, Lee Walker and Simon Lichtenberg earned a two years tour card through this event. Fan, Lee and Simon are immediately bouncing back from relegation. Peter, 24 years old, turns professional for the first time.
Despite all the issues around the event this is a rather satisfactory outcome. Three of the laureates are young players, and two of them – Fan and Simon – on non-UK players.
Simon, from Germany, has struggled badly on the tour, but hopefully will be able to build on his experience and break through this time.
I’m particularly pleased fo Fan who was clearly not ready for the main tour. He was too young, and being far away from his family, having to cope with an alien culture and a different language was clearly too much for him. He was lost. But during the second half of this season, he started to find his foot, he worked hard, matured and progressed a lot. It was too late though and he couldn’t avoid relegation. He’s bounced back magnificently.
Peter Devlin is a “character”. The boy is handsome and knows it only too well. He’s an extravert through and through. He writes songs – raps mainly – and sings them. Enough said. Check his youtube channel and see/hear by yourself
Jamie Jones, Zak Surety, Oliver Lines and Ben Hancorn are the laureates of event 2. Oliver Lines immediately bounced back from relegation. Jamie Jones and Zak Surety have been pros before. Ben Hancorn, 38, and winner of the 100th English Amateur Championship earlier this season, turns professional for the first time.
Jamie Jones of course was banned from the sport for failing to report a match fixing approach. From what transpired, it was a case of misguided loyalty towards a mate more than anything else. Jamie was never to gain any advantage from the approach. As such – in my opinion – the length and timing of the ban were quite harsh, because it effectively meant that he would be relegated. I’m glad he managed to get back on tour via the Q-shool this year (he failed in the WSF event in Malta before this).
Ben Hancorn is someone you may know, without knowing that you know him … Ben is Andrew Norman’s brother in law, and, along with him, he was a constant presence at the SWSA in Gloucester. Everyone who went to a tournament there – PTC, junior event, Pink Ribbon – will have met Ben. Turning Pro has been his dream for a long time. Good luck Ben.
Event 3 event laureates are Rory McLeod, Steven Hallworth, Farakh Ajaib and Jamie Wilson. Rory and Steven have been pros before, Farakh and Jamie are new to the tour.
I know nothing about Farakh, and very little about Jamie. Jamie is 16 years old, and playing at the Cuestars Academy, run by John Hunter, a place where Tim Dunkley also uses for coaching. The Academy is oriented towards attracting young people to snooker and developing young talents.
I’m also glad to see Rory McLeod back on tour. Having met Rory at WSS events regularly over the last two years, I know how desperate he was to regain his professional status. Job done. And the good news for Rory, is that, under the new rules, he will still be able to play on the WSS Tour until he gets into the top 64 in the main tour.
Of course it ended in heartbreak for many … amongst those who didn’t succeed, we have Michael Georgiou, Michael White and Alfie Burden.
It’s hard and sad for all of them – and so many others I didn’t name – but Michael White is partitcularly tragic. He’s only just turned 29, he was tipped as the possible “next big thing” as a junior, he won two ranking events – the 2015 Indian Open and the 2017 Paul Hunter Classic – and he was ranked as high as 15th in the World in 2016. What’s happened there? And why?