WST has published information, and the entry pack, for the 2021 Q-School with 14 spots available for the 2021/22 season.
Q School 2021
Snooker players dreaming of earning a place on the World Snooker Tour will have their chance at Q School 2021, starting on May 27th at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre in Sheffield.
Entry for Q School is open now and the deadline is Thursday May 6th at 12 noon. Entry into our events is via the tournament online entry system, and by logging on using your unique username and password.
Q School has been running since 2011 and gives all amateur players the chance to qualify for the professional tour.
This year there will be 14 places available, in the tournament scheduled to run from May 27th to June 13th. Three tournaments will be staged consecutively, each lasting six days (subject to entries). The four semi-finalists in each event will all earn a two-year tour card for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons. Plus the next two highest players on the Order of Merit will also earn a card. All matches will be best of seven frames.
For the first time, a seeding system will be used. Players relegated from the Tour at the end of the 2020/21 season, along with leading players from the 2020 Q School Order of Merit, will make up 64 seeded players in each Q School event. These players will be seeded apart from one another in the opening rounds of the event so that they do not meet before the Last-64 round.
Q School is open to all players from around the world, regardless of nationality, age or gender, providing they are in good standing with their national federation. The entry fee is £1,000.
The event will follow Government guidance on Covid-19 and players who enter will be provided with further information in line with that guidance.
WST Chairman Barry Hearn OBE said: “We are delighted to go ahead with Q School and to give so many aspiring players the chance to win the ultimate golden ticket: a place on the World Snooker Tour. For anyone with the talent and ambition, this is the opportunity to chase your dream.
“This time there are 14 places up for grabs, so everyone in the field has three bites at the cherry, plus the goal to finish as high up the Order of Merit as possible. And it’s a fantastic innovation to introduce a seeding system for the first time, to reward those who were successful last year.
“Despite the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic, we have a tremendous record of successfully and safely staging many events over the past year, working closely with our Government advisors. All players can feel confident that we will follow all required health and safety measures.
“This is the ten-year anniversary of Q School and we have seen so many great players come through the system, not least David Gilbert who is now a top 16 star. Plans for the 2021/22 season are still developing but without doubt, the 128 tour players will have a packed calendar and outstanding levels of prize money to compete for.
“We are thrilled to be working with the team at Ponds Forge as it is a superb venue which has hosted many of our events in the past.”
A separate ranking list will be compiled during Q School with players earning one point for every frame won. During the 2021/2022 season, should the number of entries in any WST event fall below the required number of entrants, subject to wildcards and commercial agreements, the highest ranked players from the Q School ranking list will be used to top up to the required number of entrants.
Further opportunities may become available for the top 32 players on the Order of Merit who do not qualify for the Tour, on the WPBSA Q Tour. This remains subject to the easing of travel and Covid restrictions.
I have put the parts that I see as important in bold.
The seeding system is long overdue. In previous years, only too often players in with a good chance collided in the early rounds, whilst others, with little hope got multiple byes. Such system did not help selecting the best players. The seeding will also help beginners who will – in theory – get a more winnable opening match.
Concerning the “Order of merit” list, I have highlighted the part about wilcards and commercial agreements. This is nothing new. However the amount of moaning and anger coming from Q-school players about the wildcards in this World Championship qualifiers has shown that it isn’t understood: in short wildcards – at WST/WPBSA discretion – and sponsors requirements have priority over Q-School top-ups.
The scheduling of the event means that this season professional players will have a rather long break. I’m 100% in favour of it. The season is long and intense as it is.
Also about the 2021/22 Tour “field”, the CBSA qualifying events have yielded the four CBSA “nominees”.
CBSA Qualifiers Results
Wu Yize, Zhang Jiankang, Cao Yupeng and Zhang Anda earned places on the World Snooker Tour from the start of next season by coming through the qualification events held this week at the CBSA-WPBSA Academy in Beijing.
The quartet booked two-year professional tour cards for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons by coming through the competitions organised by the Chinese Billiards and Snooker Association.
Zhang Jiankang earned his place following a 4-0 victory against Deng Haohui and will return to the World Snooker Tour a year after he was relegated at the end of the 2019/20 season. The 22-year-old previously reached the last 16 of the 2019 Scottish Open and achieved a highest ranking of 85th position.
Talented youngster Wu Yize will join turn professional for the first time following a 4-1 win against Pa Ruke. Aged just 17, Yu reached the semi-finals of the WSF Junior Open in January 2020, narrowly losing 4-3 to eventual champion Gao Yang.
In 2019, he competed as a wildcard at the International Championship, narrowly losing 6-5 to four-time world champion John Higgins. He made his debut at the Betfred World Championship as a WPBSA qualifier and defeated professionals Ashley Hugill and Robbie Williams, before losing to former Masters champion Alan McManus.
Cao Yupeng withstood a comeback from 17-year-old Liu Hingyu to claim a 4-3 victory and reclaim a place on the professional circuit. Liu recovered from 3-1 down to force a deciding frame, but it was the more experienced Cao who would win the decider to prevail.
Cao is a two-time ranking event finalist, narrowly losing out to Neil Robertson at the 2017 Scottish Open, and subsequently the 2018 Gibraltar Open. He reached a career-high world ranking of 38 in April 2018. He returns to the tour following suspension which ended on 24 November 2020 after he pleaded guilty to breaches of the WPBSA Members Rules.
Zhang Anda returns to the World Snooker Tour for his third spell as a professional after he defeated Zhang Zhijie 4-0 in the final round.
The 29-year-old first turned professional in 2009 and has twice reached the quarter-finals of ranking events at the 2017 Indian Open and 2018 Paul Hunter Classic. He has qualified for the televised stages of the World Championship on three occasions, coming within a frame of defeating seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry on his Crucible debut in 2010.
Two young players, and two experienced players there. Wu Yize is extremely talented and great to watch. Zhang Jiankang, only 22, has been on tour but had a particularly hard time with the covid-19 restrictions and quarantines. Zhang Anda had put his young family ahead of his career in those difficult times. Cao Yupeng’s ban ended last November. I’m sure that there will be voices claiming that he shouldn’t be allowed back. I disagree. He served his time, and certainly worked hard to qualfy again. Good luck to all four.
One thought on “2021/22 Tour News”
Obviously, seeding Q School will improve the ‘fairness’ factor – I’ve done all sorts of comupter simulations – regarding the best players clashing in an early match, which would disadvantage the loser on the Order of Merit list.
There is still the problem of byes. I assume they will do all 3 draws before the competition starts, which means potentiall byes will open up in the second round, especially if a seeded player qualifies from an earlier draw. A more creative solution would be to seed players for QS2 and QS3 based on their performance in QS1 (respectively QS2), so that players who lost early in QS1 would know the date of their next match. This is probably too sophisticated for WST, but worked well in Beijing.
With it starting on 27th May, there isn’t much time for overseas players who were relegated to return home (assuming 10-14 days’ quarantines at both ends), nor to stay for Q School and return after, before the start of the 2021-22 season. Players such as Soheil Vahedi, Yuan Sijun, Luo Honghao, Si Jiahui, Bai Langning, Lei Peifan and maybe Alex Borg will probably just have to stay in the UK continuously, assuming they can even get a VISA. They’ve already been in the UK continuously since July 2020.
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