Professional Ambitions – 23 May 2023

Bai Yulu has impressed many in recent weeks. She played on the WWS tour for the first time during the 2023 Women’s Snooker World Championship and reached the final. Weeks later she entered only her second event on the WWS tour – the 2023 Women’s British Open – and won it. Now she’s preparing for the 2023 Q-School.

She was interviewed by WST:

Bai Determined To Earn Tour Card

Fresh from her victory at the recent women’s British Open, Bai Yulu is full of confidence as she looks ahead to her first appearance in Q School, which starts on Friday this week.

China’s 19-year-old Bai has quickly established herself as a promising talent, reaching the final of the World Women’s Championship in March as well as making the highest break in the history of that event with a 127. She finished runner-up to Baipat Siripaporn, but then went one step further at the British Open this month, beating Reanne Evans in the final to capture her first silverware. Bai has also impressed at mixed-gender amateur events in China, notably making a 142 total clearance during victory over former pro Gao Yang at a CBSA tournament in April.

Bai, who has been based in Sheffield for the past few weeks where she has been practising to sharpen her game, now looks ahead to Q School which runs from May 26 to June 6 in Leicester.

Click here for event one draw

Click here for event two draw

Click here for the match schedule

She faces England’s Muhammad Aurangzaib in her opening match on Saturday, with the winner of that tie to face Craig Steadman in the second round on Monday.

Bai said: “I want to get a tour card and play as a professional as soon as possible. I watch a lot of WST matches and I want to compete in the same arena badly. I think I will improve a lot if I get to play some of the professional events.

I’m not thinking about making it all the way at Q School, I’m not making it a goal anyway, because I know it will be very tough. However I will be competing with confidence, and I won’t put too much pressure to myself.

I’m very glad to have played in the women’s ranking events. I’ve been practising in Sheffield for a while now. It’s a superb place and I am surrounded by proper players who are all dedicated. It helps me to concentrate.”

In all there will be 208 players at Q School, battling for eight tour cards. There will be two tournaments, with the four semi-finalists in each to receive a spot on the pro circuit for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 seasons.

Bai, who is only 19, comes across as very mature. She’s ambitious but realistic. She knows that she will need to work hard and improve. She’s not all “I’ll show them” like some other promising juniors… who were given the harshest reality check when they got on the main tour. I like that. She has an incredibly hard draw in both events. Should she win her first round matches, she would meet Craig Steadman in event 1, Andrew Pagett in event 2, both professionals for many years and only just relegated from the main tour.

I would particularly love it if Bai managed to beat Pagett who once again showed an incredible level of ignorance and/or stupidity today on social media by claiming that he would like to call himself Andrea, enter the women’s tour and get £25000 guaranteed. He is the tweet … thanks Snookerpro

… First, I’m not sure where this amount comes from, next all pros get £20000 as it is, and it’s not just a matter of changing your name either. Jamie Hunter has spoken about the strict conditions she had, and still has, to meet to be allowed on the women’s tour. I’m not sure Paggy would like to get himself through what a transition requires… nor that his wife would be overjoyed. Anyway…

The same Paggy also took exception to the fact that On Yee entered the Asian Q-School, arguing that there should be just one Q-School … in the UK of course. Obviously the UK centric nature of the WORLD tour (*) is no problem for him because he’s living in the UK, he’s been privileged because of that situation for years and that’s all that matters to him. Also, he wasn’t happy that he can’t enter the “easier” Asian Q-School whilst Asian based players can enter the UK Q-School. Would he fancy his chances and fork the huge amount of money needed for visas and travel, considering that he will probably play jet-lagged? Does he believe that the opposition over there will be that weak? If so, he might be in for a surprise.

One man who will be at the Asian Q-School is Thor from Malaysia who just won the gold medal at the SEA games

SEA Games: Thor dedicates snooker gold to Malaysia

PHNOM PENH, May 15 — National cueist Thor Chuan Leong has dedicated his 2023 SEA Games gold medal to Malaysia for giving him a second chance to compete in the biennial Games.

The 35-year-old former professional player said that although his form had suffered a dip, the National Sports Council (NSC) and the Malaysian Snooker and Billiards Federation (MSBF) still had faith in him to bring glory to the country.

He explained that he faced really difficult times when he turned professional and played in the United Kingdom (UK), which saw his performance suddenly take a nosedive, adding that it took him a long time to regain his touch.

My game was horrible when I played in the UK. In Asia, I can be considered a great player, but in the UK I was playing like a novice.

So, I returned (to Malaysia). It has taken me four to five years to get back to my previous level and that’s why many of you have not heard my name for so long. Now, everything is beginning to look up,” he said when met here.

Yesterday, Chuan Leong, who is more popularly called Thor in the sporting fraternity, clinched the men’s singles snooker gold medal, thus repeating the feat he achieved in the 2015 edition in Singapore.

His victory also ensured that the MSBF’s two-gold target has been achieved.

Thor now has a total of five SEA Games gold medals to his name, having come out tops in the men’s doubles snooker event in the 2011 edition in Palembang, Indonesia; singles and doubles gold medals in Singapore (2015); and the 6-Red individual gold in Myanmar (2013). 

Thor, however, is still determined to turn professional again for the continuity of his career.

Of course, I want to get back to being a professional because, sorry to say, this sport is not very popular in Malaysia… I mean it’s difficult to make a living. So, my plan after this is to go and play in championships in Thailand and join the Q School in June. If I can make the final, I will be able to be a professional cueist again,” he said. — Bernama

Thor, like many, found it difficult to live as an expat in the UK and his level dropped. But he’s a quality player and if he manages to get back on tour and find a “home” in one of the big academies he’s certainly more than capable to do some damage!

(*) Speaking of the UK centric nature of the main tour … I was recently invited to participate in a survey. One question was about the “region” the person taking part in this survey is from. There was a a zillion options… North of England, South of England, East of England, West of England, every corner of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland … and … “Other Region”. I’m from Belgium, like the reigning World Champion , but that’s the option I had to tick... Seriously??? Seriously!!! That’s preposterous for an organism calling itself WORLD Snooker. That’s actually scandalous.

10 thoughts on “Professional Ambitions – 23 May 2023

  1. “That’s preposterous for an organism calling itself WORLD Snooker. ”
    I think you meant “organisation”?

    • “organisation”.

      But it slowly reverts to organism if it keeps itself in UK.

    • Probably Christian. I’m a native French speaker. We have both words in French as well: “organisation” and “organisme”. The difference in meaning is the context above is subtle: we will use “organisme” when we refer to a group or company as a “functioning body” as opposed to the commercial or legal organisation. …or in WST case a dysfunctioning body … But maybe this is what, in French, we call a ” faux ami” , words existing in both languages but with different meanings/usage.

      • Didn’t want to correct you there really as well, I thought that “organism” could somehow have a French origin and could mean the same. On another not I thought you would answer my comment the other day: Don’t you think too that WST could try the double elimination at least for one event, do you think women could benefit from that and do you think WST may not do it to dissociate themselves from pool? I know even implementing it for a best of 7 tournament like Gibraltar or so would make the tournament so long that it would get probably more prestige than it would deserve. But I think the top players, who usually are listenend to would love to see the Shout Out completely abandoned and maybe organise a best of 3 or best of 5 double elimination tournament.

      • Personally I do like the double elimination system. I’m sure though that WST would not use it. It would make the events much longer and would probably make the money list ranking system more complicate. But indeed, the women, and disability snooker could benefit. That said the WWS events have always a “plate” competition for those who are out of the main event early. The WWS and WDBBS events use a round-robin system in the early rounds. All that is done to make sure that everyone has several matches to play, no matter their results.

  2. “Other region” implies their unwillingness to develop other places(at least it should be in Europe)?

    That is not good -_-
    Watched playback of Haining Open, wonder why there is almost no audience……

      • Strange. I remember when it was postponed from March to during the World Championship, I thought I remembered reading we might hear something (an outcome) during the second week of the WC. But…it’s been over 3 weeks since the WC ended.

  3. Ouch. I can see this Pagett is on a roll of saying stupidity: really hope he won’t regain his tourcard: really no need for the likes of him.

    But first and foremost good luck, Bai. I would love to see her succeed, but at least get high enough on the “reserve list” to be able to play at least a few tournaments. As someone pointed out: lovely refreshing attitude.

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