WST has yesterday published the draws and formats for the three 2021 Q-School events. They will be played in Ponds Forge, Sheffield, starting in just over a week.
Over 200 players will be battling for 14 places on the World Snooker Tour at 2021 Q School, which starts on May 27.
The event at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre in Sheffield will run until June 13, with each of the three events running for six days.
Notable players in the field include:
Those who dropped off the pro tour at the end of last season such as Ian Burns, Jackson Page, Soheil Vahedi, James Cahill, Yuan Sijun, Duane Jones, Luo Honghao, Daniel Wells and new World Seniors champion David Lilley
Snooker legend Tony Knowles, the former world number two, who last played in Q School in 2017
Former Shoot Out champion Michael Georgiou
Two-time ranking event winner Michael White
Up-and-coming European cuemen Ben Mertens, Florian Nuessle, Brian Ochoiski, Julien LeClercq and Antoni Kowalski
Promising British talent such as Robbie McGuigan, Westley Cooper, Dylan Emery and Stan Moody
Women’s world number four Rebecca Kenna
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.
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.
According to the usually reliable Nikolay on twitter there are actually 196 players in these draws, including one, Vyas from India, who has already forfeited and, unless WST is redifining arithmetic I’d dare to say that 196(5) < 200 😉 … anyway …
Snooker.org on twitter have published two interesting lists:
This one shows the recently relegated players who have entered, with their age, and number of years on tour.
There are 21 of them, including 7 who are aged 21 or less, that’s one in three. I will support all of them, but even more so the young Chinese players who had it particularly hard during the pandemics. Four of those seven are still teenagers, and one, Lei Peifan, is only 17. That doesn’t feel right.
The other list shows the former players, trying to return after at least one year out of the game.
Only two of those players are 25 or less: Chris Totten and Ross Muir. The latter was forced out of the game by health issues. Hopefully those are behind him now.
This list also features Michael White who, at 29, is a double ranking event winner but dropped off the tour last season. He topped the Q-School “reserve” list and competed in most events this season but was largely unconvincing. What happened there? I can only guess that it comes to crushed confidence and mental health issues. I’m not sure what would be best for Michael though. Maybe take some time off and trying to address whatever issues are affecting him would be the best course of action?
There are also 12 players, out of 28, aged 40 or more in this list. The oldest one, and the WST “poster boy” is Tony Knowles, 65, who is famous for inflicting the Crucible Curse on Steve Davis, as well as for some more “frivole” exploits. Many of those guys have been playing on the WSS Tour and it’s a huge credit to Jason Francis that they have rediscovered their love for the game and their faith in their ability to the point that they want to return on the pro Tour. But is it really a good thing to get those guys back full time as pros? Or should more efforts be put on the WSS Tour to make it bigger, more lucrative and with better exposure?
The fact that they chose Tony as the “face” of their annoucement on twitter shows that WST still relies on glories from the past for their promotion of the game. Judd Trump is right when he says there is too much focus on the past still. WST choice is probably motivated by their confidence that Tony is a “recognisable” figure amongst the fans. Maybe, but I’m far from certain that he is a recognisable figure or an inspiration for the younger generation of fans and aspiring young players.
Finally, Rebecca Kenna is the only female player in this draw. She had to face a lot of prejudices when she was given a wildcard at the World qualifiers. Yet, she has shown that she can play and gave a good account of herself. She has my supports as well.
Anyway… Good luck to all involved!