The first UK Q-School event is underway in Ponds Forge (Sheffield). This year, spectators are allowed in the venue.
This is how the setup looks like:
You can follow all the results on snooker.org
At the time of writing, round 2 is in progress.
Wells Makes Strong Start
Former Scottish Open semi-finalist Daniel Wells scored a comfortable win on the opening day of 2022 Q School, whitewashing Brandon Hall 4-0 in the first round of event one in Sheffield.
There are 12 professional tour cards up for grabs, across three events, over the next 18 days. The four semi-finalists of each tournament will secure their places on the World Snooker Tour for at least the next two years.
Welshman Wells, who first joined the tour in 2008, suffered relegation at the conclusion of the 2020/21 campaign. He was unsuccessful at Q School last year and bowed out in the last 16 of the recent Q Tour Playoff.
He wasted little time this afternoon, wrapping up victory in just an hour and 15 minutes. Wells fired in breaks of 95, 96, 62, 60 and 50 during the win. Wells will now receive a bye to round three, due to Simon Blackwell’s suspension.
China’s 18-year-old Liu Hongyu put on an impressive display to ease past Andy Milliard 4-1. Liu composed a tournament high break of 134, as well as runs of 79, 69 and 58, on his way to victory. Liu now faces Belgian teenager Ben Mertens in the second round.
English 15-year-old prospect Stan Moody booked his place in the second round with a 4-0 win over Italy’s Mirko Montrasio. Next up for Moody is a second round tie against Mark Lloyd.
There were a number of withdrawals/no-shows in the first round and it affected mainly players from Pakistan. This suggests either visa or travel issues.
Alex Clenshaw, who was finalist at the Q-Tour play-offs, was narrowly beaten by Wang Yuchen from China. Wang is now 24 years old and was part of a group of promising young prospects when, ten years ago, I had the opportunity to go to an APTC in Yixing. At the time, the center of all attentions was Lyu Haotian. But Wang caught my eyes because he was different from the other boys. For a start, he was the only one able to speak English, and he was fluent at it. He was also the only one willing to engage with “strangers”. At the time he had told me that his family has roots in Hong-Kong and that his father insisted that he should complete his education and not focus solely on his snooker. Himself, still only 14, was mature enough to understand the importance of keeping more than one “future” alley open even if that meant less time for practice. Yesterday, Wang was narrowly beaten by Sean Harvey in round 2.
The biggest surprise of in round 2 so far was Michael Holt’s defeat at the hands of an little known Thai teenager.
Chaikul Downs The Hitman
Thailand’s 17-year-old Nattanapong Chaikul scored a shock 4-3 win over Michael Holt on the second day of Q School event one in Sheffield.
Chaikul is competing in Q School for the first time and also survived a deciding frame in round one, beating China’s Haohui Deng 4-3 on the final black.
Former Shoot Out champion Holt arrived at Q School as one of the favourites to gain a fresh two-year tour card, having dropped off the circuit following the recent World Championship.
Holt will now have further opportunities at events two and three. There are 12 places up for grabs overall, with the four semi-finalists from each tournament earning professional status.
Chaikul looked impressive against his far more experienced opponent. He fired in breaks of 75, 54 and 59 on his way to establishing a 3-2 advantage. Holt forced a decider, but a break of 79 from Chaikul secured the win. He now faces Brandon Sargeant in the next round.
Chinese 18-year-old Liu Hongyu continued to impress, with a 4-3 win over Belgian prospect Ben Mertens. Liu has now composed the two biggest breaks of the event so far, having added a run of 137 today in addition to the 134 he made yesterday. Liu now plays Alfie Lee.
Germany’s Lukas Kleckers bounced back from his tour relegation with a 4-0 defeat of James Burrett, while Rod Lawler also secured a whitewash 4-0 win against Faizaan Mohammed.
Alfie Lee is Stephen Lee’s son.
That Holt fell off the tour came as surprise to many. Shortly after that happened he was interviewed by WST:
Attitude Key To Tour Return – Holt
Former Shoot Out champion Michael Holt believes a positive mindset is crucial if he is to earn an immediate return to the World Snooker Tour at Q School.
Holt is just one of a number of top players who suffered unexpected relegations from the professional circuit after World Championship qualifying last month. The Nottingham cueman was joined by the likes of Kurt Maflin and Fergal O’Brien in falling off the tour. Q School begins on Monday (16th), with Holt getting his campaign underway on Tuesday.
Dropping off the circuit was a difficult moment for Holt to come to terms with, having been a professional for 25 seasons since joining the tour in 1996. However, he admits that the damage was done long before he arrived at the English Institute of Sport for his qualifying matches.
The final death knell came with a 6-3 loss to Tom Ford, a match which had he won would have ensured his safety. Looking back, he admits that the qualifiers came with a brand of pressure which he hadn’t witnessed thus far in his career.
“I was disappointed, but I can’t put it on that match. I shouldn’t have been in that position going into the World Championship. It is my own fault and it is heartbreaking to have dropped off. I am where I am. I now have to go to Q School and get through. My game is still there. What can I do? I just have to prepare for it and see how I go,” said 43-year-old Holt.
“The situation completely took away any thoughts about the Crucible. All I wanted to do was to win my next match and be safe. If I’d got to Judgement Day, then I’d have thought about it. All I wanted was to save my tour spot and it was all or nothing. You have to win your matches and I didn’t. It happens every year to players and this time it happened to me. I tried and I failed.
“It is a different sort of pressure. The pressure of a final is trying to win the event, with a worst case scenario of a nice cheque. The pressure of falling off tour brings a different feeling. It is more heartbreak if it doesn’t go right. I actually played alright at the World Championship. If you let it come down to one event, the balls can go the wrong way and you can lose. That wasn’t why I fell off, it was what came before.”
Throughout Holt’s career he has been open about the mental battles which he has faced, as he chases his own expectations and the fulfilment of his potential. Despite having reached three ranking finals and landed maiden silverware at the Shoot Out in 2020, he has been left frustrated not to have accumulated more accolades in his career. However, he hopes that if he can battle his way back onto the circuit, it can act as a catalyst for a more positive mindset, which in turn could yield better results.
Holt explained: “If I do get through, I’ve said to myself that I have to try to enjoy it more. You don’t know what you have until it has gone. As much as I have been appreciative of snooker over the years, I haven’t enjoyed it anywhere near as much as I should have. It’s a tragedy that I haven’t enjoyed it more, as I don’t have that many good memories. It has been a bit of an ordeal at times. Life is too short.
“If I don’t get back on I know I’m certainly not too old, so I will only stop when I can’t play to the required level. That simply isn’t the case and ironically I’m playing better than I ever have before. I’m not too proud to play in anything, I’m not like that. If I need to play events in clubs to get back on, then I will do that.
“It means a lot to everyone. Even the guys who make out that they don’t care like Mark Williams, do care and it means a lot to them. I can’t say that I want it too much or that I should have done more. In anyone’s career, you achieve what you deserve. It is the underperforming that kills you, not the losing. Ronnie O’Sullivan has lost more events than he has won and he is the best player in history. You can get contentment from doing as well as you can.
“I’ve said all the way through this nightmare, that the game is there. I thought to drop off tour I would have to be completely gone in every way and that hasn’t been the case. It is about results and I just haven’t got them. When I allow myself to play, I am performing at a very high level. It is all about allowing myself to play well, that is the battle. If I take the shackles off then I’ll be alright.”
Due to the season finishing, many of Holt’s regular practice partners have stopped playing for the summer. However, the Hitman has partnered up with a fellow victim of tour relegation Steven Hallworth. The pair have been working hard together on the practice table and hope that they will reap the rewards when Q School gets underway in Sheffield next week.
“There aren’t many players still practising, but Steven Hallworth is in the same position as me and we have been playing together. The first session wasn’t that good, because our hearts were still broken. We have both been working towards this though and it is on the horizon now. We have another session booked in this week. It is all about mentally preparing for it. Those who are entering it for the first time will be chipper and looking forward to it, for the guys dropping off tour it is about coming to terms with being there. The ex tour players have to deal with the mental side and try to turn up with the right attitude. You need to have a positive mindset to get through.”
It is a very interesting insight into the psychology of a player who drops off the tour but firmly believes he’s still more than good enough, and Michael most certainly is still good enough. Yesterday’s defeat will be a hard blow. It will be interesting to see if/how he bounces back. It’s hard not to care, and it’s easy to care too much, to put too much pressure on oneself.
Other than that, like every year, I really wonder why some players do enter this series of events. There are players who are well past 40, have never done anything in the game and came from outside UK to enter this. Why? What do they expect?
There is only one female player in the draw. I’s the fourth time she enters the Q-School. She has played 8 matches in Q-Schools in total so far, 32 frames and hasn’t won a single frame yet.
Of, course they have every right to enter but I can’t help to wonder why they do it. Entry fees, hotel … it’s not cheap.