The four players who earned a two years tour card through the 2021 Q-School Event 1 were all professionals over the 2019/20/21 seasons. They are: Yuan Sijun, Jackson Page, Fraser Patrick ans Peter Lines.
Here are the reports by WST about what happened yesterday.
Q School Event One – The Final Eight
Seven of the eight players through to the quarter-finals of Q School event one are looking for an immediate return to the pro tour having been relegated at the end of last season.
Michael Georgiou is the only exception – the former Shoot Out winner dropped off the tour in 2020 then took a year away from snooker to spend time in his native Cyprus, but is now just one win away from a fresh two-year tour card.
The four winners of the quarter-finals in Sheffield will each be handed a place on the circuit for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons.
Georgiou beat Oliver Brown 4-1 in the last 16 with a top break of 104. He will now meet Welshman Jackson Page, who thrashed Sean Harvey 4-0 with a top run of 60.
China’s Yuan Sijun saw off Sydney Wilson 4-0, earning a match with Birmingham’s Mitchell Mann, who made a 93 in a 4-2 defeat of Duane Jones.
Peter Lines, the 51-year-old veteran from Leeds, eased into the last round with a 4-1 victory over Lee Shanker. He will now meet Preston’s Ian Burns, who won a 40-minute decider to edge out David Lilley 4-3.
A top run of 118 helped China’s Bai Langning beat James Cahill 4-1, setting up a tie with Fraser Patrick, who came from 2-1 down to beat Lei Peifan 4-3.
Action Jackson Bounces Back
Talented teenager Jackson Page earned a new two-year tour card by beating Michael Georgiou 4-1 in the final round of Q School event one in Sheffield.
Welsh 19-year-old Page turned pro in 2019 then suffered relegation at the end of last season. The player from Ebbw Vale, who is mentored by three-time World Champion Mark Williams, now has another chance to prove his potential.
He is one of four winners from Q School event one who will receive a card for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons to compete on snooker’s global circuit.
Page needed just 73 minutes to end the challenge of Cypriot Georgiou. A break of 89 gave him the opening frame, and he took the second by clearing from brown to black, before making an 81 in the third for 3-0. Georgiou pulled one back but Page made a 56 in frame five as he secured the result.
“I struggled through the early rounds but improved as the event went on and played well today,” said Page. “My game is improving all of the time. My safety still needs to get better and my break-building has always been my strength. Over the last two years I have learned what you need to do to get to the top. It’s all about consistency, I have to perform on a regular basis.”
All four players earning tour cards from event one were relegated at the end of last season and have earned an immediate return.
China’s Yuan Sijun scored a 4-2 win over Mitchell Mann. Yuan went 3-0 up with a top break of 46, then Mann battled his way back to 3-2 and led 49-0 in frame six. But 21-year-old Yuan compiled runs of 42 and 23 to snatch the frame and clinch his card.
Yuan first turned pro in 2017 and showed his talent with runs to the quarter-finals of the World Grand Prix and semi-finals of the Gibraltar Open in 2019. At the time he was described by Stephen Hendry as “one of the best youngsters I’ve seen since the likes of Ding Junhui, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Williams or John Higgins turned pro.” A loss of form over the past two seasons saw Yuan drop down the rankings but he now has a fresh start.
Peter Lines, who first turned pro back in 1991, extended his career for two more years with a 4-2 win over Ian Burns, highlighted by a break of 55. At the age of 51, Yorkshireman Lines will be the oldest pro player other than Nigel Bond who does not have an invitational tour card.
“I came here with no expectations because my confidence was low, but I have got my act together here and I’m delighted to get through,” said Lines. “I just want to enjoy being on the circuit as much as I can, because I have loved snooker since I started at 14. It’s great to be with your friends on tour and do something that you love.
“I’d like to say thanks to all of my friends and family because it has been a tough time for me and (son) Oliver. A special thanks to a player called Patrick Whelan who I practise with. He gave me a ticking off about my attitude, I hadn’t realised until then how bad my attitude was. If he hadn’t pointed that out I wouldn’t have got through Q School, it really helped me.”
The draws at Q School were seeded for the first time this year, with players who had just been relegated seeded highest, followed by those who performed well in Q School last year. Lines believes that innovation was a success. “It has evened out the sections of the draw so the good players are spread out,” he said. “It made things fairer, rather having a lot of good players in one section, so it worked well.”
Glasgow’s Fraser Patrick took the fourth and last tour card with a 4-1 victory over China’s Bai Langning, closing out the result with a run of 95 in frame five. Patrick, age 35, first turned pro in 2007.
“When I looked at the names at the start, I felt this would be the hardest ever year at Q School,” said Patrick, who has come through the qualifying event three times. “There were so many good players. To get through at the first chance, I’m very relieved.
“I have hardly practised for the past 16 months because the snooker clubs have been shut. I have been turning up to tournaments and getting pumped. If I can start practising now and have more games with the likes of John Higgins, Stephen Maguire and Graeme Dott, that will help me.”
Event two gets underway on Wednesday – for the match schedule click here
I’m delighted for Yuan Sijun and Jackson Page, both young extremely talented players. Yuan in particular must have been low in confidence and a fresh start might help him to regain his mojo.
You can’t fault Peter Lines’ love for the game and, although I would love to see younger players to succeed, I’m happy for Peter as well.
As for Fraser Patrick, he’s a lovely man and I certainly won’t begrudge him his success here. However, there is something not quite right when a player struggles so much to stay on tour, losing his tour card three times, only to regain it each time. And even when he failed to regain it, he still played a lot on the tour as top-up. This illustrates that the gap between professional and amateur game has widened, and continues to widen. That’s a serious worry.
Fraser is not the only one who appears not to be quite good enough to stay in the top 64, but far too good for the amateur circuit. Of course, the covid crisis has made it even worse this year, with amateurs unable to practice or play for most of the season.
Still, I’m not sure what the answer should be. Maybe put “the bar” at 72 or 80 instead of 64? But also surely, reviving the pro-am circuit where so many of today’s established names learned their trade would help? Basically that would mean revive the PTC tour, giving it decent money and exposure. And at the same time, go back to a tiered system for at least half of the main tour events, with money, but no ranking points, for those who fail to win their first match and the whole tournament played in one go and in one location, with proper exposure, if not television, at least streaming for all rounds? That would create a better development path for young players, and would not offer “ranking” protection.
That’s of course IF the ranking system is to be kept. There are other options, used in other sports. Rating systems do exist, that make the distinction between amateurs and professionals largely irrelevant. Those systems also usually take the diffrence in rating into account when it comes to rewarding a win: a competitor will be “rewarded” more in terms of rating points for beating a higher rated opponent than for beating someone of similar or lower strength.