Tour News – the 2021/22 season tour players.

WPBSA has published the list of snooker professionals for this season:

Tour Players 2021/22

The final list of players who will compete on the World Snooker Tour during the 2021/22 season is now confirmed

Due to the non-staging of several international amateur competitions holding tour qualification status over the past 12 months, there will be 122 professional players on tour. Remaining places at events will be topped up via the Q School Order of Merit, or with local wild cards for certain events such as the Home Nations Series, as in previous years.

These amateur tournaments will be rescheduled over the coming months, with places available on the tour for the successful players in time for the 2022/23 season.

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “It is unfortunate that we have not been able to stage major international amateur events such as the World Snooker Federation Open and Junior Open over the past year due to the global pandemic. In the past, these events have seen young players such as Iulian Boiko, Luo Honghao, Ashley Hugill, Jackson Page, Aaron Hill, Gao Yang and many others show their promise and earn places on the professional tour.

“We are fully committed to bringing these events back as soon as it is feasible, bringing talented young players from many countries around the globe together to compete, and giving them a gateway to professional status. Internationally, in a vast number of territories across the planet, our sport is in a strong position in terms of participation and emerging talent, despite the challenges we have faced.

“The World Snooker Tour now has 122 exceptional players with a standard we have never seen before. And the leading Q School players who did not earn a card fully deserve the opportunity to compete in ranking events to top up the draws.”

The Top 64 (64)

These players finished inside the top 64 of the official world ranking list at the end of last season and so will retain their places on the circuit, with a one-yearcard.

End of season rankings:

  1. Judd Trump
  2. Mark Selby
  3. Ronnie O’Sullivan
  4. Neil Robertson
  5. Shaun Murphy
  6. Kyren Wilson
  7. John Higgins
  8. Ding Junhui
  9. Stephen Maguire
  10. Yan Bingtao
  11. Mark Williams
  12. Mark Allen
  13. Barry Hawkins
  14. Jack Lisowski
  15. Stuart Bingham
  16. Anthony McGill
  17. Zhou Yuelong
  18. Graeme Dott
  19. Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
  20. Joe Perry
  21. Kurt Maflin
  22. Tom Ford
  23. David Gilbert
  24. Ali Carter
  25. Martin Gould
  26. Zhao Xintong
  27. Liang Wenbo
  28. Ryan Day
  29. Xiao Guodong
  30. Matt Selt
  31. Michael Holt
  32. Ricky Walden
  33. Gary Wilson
  34. Scott Donaldson
  35. Lu Ning
  36. Matthew Stevens
  37. Robert Milkins
  38. Li Hang
  39. Luca Brecel
  40. Jordan Brown
  41. Hossein Vafaei
  42. Mark Joyce
  43. Liam Highfield
  44. Noppon Saengkham
  45. Alexander Ursenbacher
  46. Ben Woollaston
  47. Stuart Carrington
  48. Martin O’Donnell
  49. Mark Davis
  50. Elliot Slessor
  51. Sam Craigie
  52. Mark King
  53. Lyu Haotian
  54. Anthony Hamilton
  55. Jamie Jones
  56. Andrew Higginson
  57. Sunny Akani
  58. Tian Pengfei
  59. David Grace
  60. Chris Wakelin
  61. Dominic Dale
  62. Joe O’Connor
  63. Jimmy Robertson
  64. Nigel Bond

The Two-Year Cards (27)

These players competed on the main tour in 2020/21 and will start the 2021/22 season on the second year of their two-year tour cards.

  • Jak Jones
  • Pang Junxu
  • Jamie Clarke
  • Robbie Williams
  • Steven Hallworth
  • Ashley Carty
  • Simon Lichtenberg
  • Oliver Lines
  • Zhao Jianbo
  • Ken Doherty
  • Gao Yang
  • Fergal O’Brien
  • Rory McLeod
  • Allan Taylor
  • Aaron Hill
  • Lukas Kleckers
  • Ashley Hugill
  • Peter Devlin
  • Jamie Wilson
  • Ben Hancorn
  • Lee Walker
  • Fan Zhengyi
  • Zak Surety
  • Stephen Hendry
  • Farakh Ajaib
  • Iulian Boiko
  • Sean Maddocks

The Top Eight (One-Year Ranking list) (8)

The top eight players on the 2020/21 one-year ranking list, not already inside of the top 64 of the two-year ranking list or on the first year of a two-year card. They receive a fresh two-year tour card, starting on zero ranking points.

  1. Chang Bingyu
  2. Igor Figueiredo
  3. Xu Si
  4. Louis Heathcote
  5. Chen Zifan
  6. Jamie O’Neill
  7. Andy Hicks
  8. Gerard Greene

Q School (14)

A further 14 will be promoted from the Q School and again they will receive atwo-year tour card.

  • Jackson Page (Q School Event One semi-finalist)
  • Yuan Sijun (Q School Event One semi-finalist)
  • Peter Lines (Q School Event One semi-finalist)
  • Fraser Patrick (Q School Event One semi-finalist)
  • Michael Judge (Q School Event Two semi-finalist)
  • Alfie Burden (Q School Event Two semi-finalist)
  • Barry Pinches (Q School Event Two semi-finalist)
  • Craig Steadman (Q School Event Two semi-finalist)
  • Duane Jones (Q School Event Three semi-finalist)
  • Dean Young (Q School Event Three semi-finalist)
  • Ian Burns (Q School Event Three semi-finalist)
  • Lei Peifan (Q School Event Three semi-finalist)
  • Hammad Miah (Q School OOM)
  • Mitchell Mann (Q School OOM)

China Tour Qualifiers (4)

Four players have qualified via the CBSA China Tour. They earn a fresh two-year tour cards.

  1. Wu Yize
  2. Zhang Jiankang
  3. Cao Yupeng
  4. Zhang Anda

World Women’s Snooker Tour (2)

The top two players from the World Women’s Snooker Tour rankings will be awarded a two-year card.

  • Reanne Evans (No.1 Ranked)
  • Ng On Yee (No.2 Ranked)

Deferred Tour Card (1)

Andrew Pagett was due to join the tour for the 2020/21 season but this was deferred on medical grounds. He will begin a two-year card.

  • Andrew Pagett

Invitational Tour Cards (2)

Two players have been awarded a new two-year Invitational Tour Card for the upcoming season.

  • Marco Fu
  • Jimmy White

This is the link to the current Q-School Order of Merit

The part I put in bold in bold in the above quotes means that Sanderson Lam, Michael Georgiou, Si Jiahui, Soheil Vahedi, Michael White and David Lilley will have the opportunity to play in most events, maybe even all of them. They are handed what is effectively the equivalent of a one year tour card, without the pressure to defend their ranking. For some of them – and I’m thinking Si Jiahui, Soheil Vahedi and Michael White – this might be even better than a return to full pro status. They will have opportunities to play, and earn, with less pressure and should come into the next Q-School with the best possible preparation. They may even not need the Q-School if they do really well during the season.

WST have been speaking to Sandy Lam and to Michael Georgiou. They have also interviewed three Chinese pros ahead of the season: Zhou Yuelong, Zhao Xintong and Tian Pengfei.

All interviews are interesting and well worth the read. Michael, Zhou, Zhao and Tian all speak about some of the additional problems and difficulties oversea’s players have to face. The UK centric structure of the snooker pro tour puts them at a diadvantage at the best of times; the covid-19 crisis, the lockdown and the travel restrictions have magnified the issues big time.

 

 

Tour News – Cazoo to sponsor the UK Championship, the Champion of Champions and the Masters

WST has published this today:

Cazoo And Matchroom Expand Partnership Deal

Cazoo, the UK’s leading online car retailer, which makes ordering a car as simple and seamless as buying any other product online today, announces that it has expanded its partnership with Matchroom to become the principal sponsor of snooker’s Masters, UK Championship and Champion of Champions.

Cazoo has extended its deal with the World Snooker Tour (WST) and added the Masters, the UK Championship and the Champion of Champions to its current portfolio of snooker properties where it is currently the main sponsor of the Players Championship, Tour Championship and World Grand Prix.

The Champion of Champions, promoted by Matchroom Multi Sport, brings together 16 tournament Champions from the past year. The UK Championship is snooker’s longest running ranking event other than the World Championship, and is part of the sport’s Triple Crown series, as is the Masters in London which boasts an elite field of the world’s top 16 players.

Each of these prestigious snooker tournaments, broadcast to a global television audience of up to 500 million fans, will see Cazoo branding on the main set, players’ waistcoats and interview and media conference backdrops.

Cazoo has also become the principal sponsor of the Grand Slam of Darts, World Cup of Darts and European Championship. Under a new multi-year deal with the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), the trio of high-profile darts events will see prominent Cazoo branding on the stage, players’ shirts, in the playing arena and on interview backdrops with extensive live TV coverage through Sky Sports and global broadcasters.

The Cazoo World Cup of Darts will take place from September 9-12 in Jena, Germany, where 32 nations will compete in two-player teams. The Cazoo European Championship, live on ITV4, and Sky Sports-televised Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts will follow as two of the highlights of the Autumn’s darting calendar.

Cazoo will also become the headline sponsor at this year’s FishOMania event, to be staged on Saturday July 24.

These latest tournaments add to Cazoo’s growing portfolio of sports sponsorships which now includes football (Everton, Aston Villa & the EFL), cricket (The Hundred), rugby (Welsh Rugby Union & 2021 Rugby League World Cup), golf (European Tour) and horseracing (Epsom Derby & St Leger).

Cazoo Tour Championship (2021 Final)Cazoo is pioneering the shift to online car buying and, since launching in 2019, has sold over 25,000 cars to consumers across the UK who have embraced the selection, transparency and convenience of buying quality used cars entirely online. Cazoo is planning to launch in France & Germany by the end of 2021.

Alex Chesterman OBE, Founder & CEO of Cazoo said, “We are excited to be expanding our partnership with Matchroom to launch the Cazoo World Cup of Darts, Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts and Cazoo European Championship with the Professional Darts Corporation later this year and to be extending our deal with the World Snooker Tour to launch three additional Cazoo snooker tournaments. This wider partnership with Matchroom will help to further grow our audience as we build Cazoo into a household brand and continue to deliver the best car buying experience to darts and snooker fans across the UK and Europe.”

Barry Hearn OBE, President of Matchroom said: “It’s fantastic to have a brand like Cazoo involved with us in both snooker and darts and we have thoroughly enjoyed working with Alex and his team, who have proven to be creative and innovative partners. We are now partnering with Cazoo on nine of the most prestigious tournaments and eagerly-awaited events on the snooker and darts calendars as well as for FishOMania. We look forward to introducing the Cazoo brand to our loyal fanbase and to a long and productive relationship.”

I believe that this is a really important announcement. This is Matchroom clearly taking action to reduce its dependence on the gambling and gaming industry for their events’ sponsoring. I have been saying it for a long time: relying on just one particular type of sponsors is never healthy, no matter how much they are ready to pay. The “tobacco ban” hit snooker very hard because the gouverning did nothing to find alternatives despite knowing that it was coming. A “gambling ban” is coming too, even if many don’t want to believe it the signs are there, and Matchroom is being proactive.

Jason Ferguson gives more information about the Turkish Masters

Jason has been speaking to Phil Haigh about the new Turkish Masters

Jason Ferguson gives the latest on Turkish Masters, the upcoming season and possible new events

Jason Ferguson
Jason Ferguson has confirmed a huge first prize at the Turkish Masters (Picture: Getty Images)

The newly-announced Turkish Masters will have a top prize of ‘at least £100,000’ confirms WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson, who is plotting some more events around the Mediterranean in the near future.

After a low-key unveiling of the season’s calendar last week, with a number of gaps with ‘potential ranking event’ one of those gaps was filled in style with the announcement of the new tournament in Antalya at the end of September.

It’s a glamorous destination for the tour, especially after a year of behind-closed-doors action in Milton Keynes, and of the confirmed £500,000 prize fund, Ferguson says at least £100,000 will go to the champion.

It’s a full-ranking, flat draw, 128 players,’ Ferguson explained to Metro.co.uk.The intention is to take 64 players to Turkey, but we’ll hold some first round matches for over there, the world champion and a few others and it will be a minimum of £100,000 first prize.

‘I’m really excited. It’s been two years’ work for me, rumbling along in the background.

‘The promoter, a lovely guy called Tugba [Irten] has pulled everything together and made it work, it’s really exciting.

‘If I could send one message, I urge all players to support this event. This is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world.’

The players appear to share Ferguson’s excitement for a trip to Turkey in September – as long as Covid-related travel restrictions are eased by then – and they could have more appealing destinations to look forward to in the coming months as well.

‘I’m working on a few in this sort of area,’ Jason said. ‘We’ve had a lot of time to think in lockdown.

‘It’s been hard in Milton Keynes, it was great for us there, but we can’t keep going back to the same place. We need to get out and show the world what we’re doing.

‘It’ll be good for the players, good for morale and something to look forward to. I think it’s lifted the spirits a little bit.

‘I’m looking at a few other Mediterranean-style destinations, but it’s all to do with travel and countries opening up again, it’s hard to say too much at the minute.

‘That whole area is booming, the interest in snooker in the Mediterranean is booming and it’s not just ex-pats.

When the 2021/22 calendar was announced there was some concern among players that five slots were filled by ‘potential ranking events’ but Ferguson has allayed fears over these dates in the diary.

Restrictions thanks to the pandemic continue to make things difficult, but whether they take place in the UK or abroad, those gaps in the calendar will be filled.

‘Oh they’re happening, yeah,’ he said. ‘We’re in this difficult travel situation at the moment. We’ve had to hold on as long as we could.

‘Ideally we’d be qualifying for overseas events early, but we don’t know if we can do final stages before the new year.

‘We’re starting off with the Championship League [4-30 July], that’s a good way to get people back playing. Qualifiers for Turkey in the qualifying slot in August.

‘We’re looking at a revised WST Pro series, refining that into a better model.

‘There’s a lot of work to do. It might start gentle with some league-style things but it will gain momentum. We will backfill that calendar, we will fill it up.’

The fact that there will be a few held-over matches gives me a hope that Ronnie will enter. After all he remains one of the most popular players, if not the most popular player and the sponsor will probably want to be sure he makes it to the main venue.

One concern might be the conditions: at the scheduled dates the weather will still be quite hot in Antalya, albeit dry.

 

The Snooker Tour is heading to Turkey

This was posted by WST today

Snooker Heads To New Territory With Turkish Masters

The World Snooker Tour will stage an event in Turkey for the first time next season when the Turkish Masters takes place in the beautiful city of Antalya.

The provisional dates of the tournament are September 27 to October 3 and WST will closely monitor all guidelines on travel and Covid safety, working with governments in the UK and overseas.

The world ranking event will see 64 players heading to Turkey to compete for total prize money of £500,000.

Ruins of Aspendos theatreAntalya is known for its history, culture, beaches and cuisine

Antalya is renowned as one of Europe’s outstanding destinations, known for its culture, history and ideal location on the Mediterranean coast.

WST has agreed a four-year deal with the Turkish Billiards Federation and Big Break Promotions to stage the Turkish Masters every season until at least 2024/2025. Overall prize money will increase each year.

A qualifying round will be staged in August with players needing to win one match to make it to the final stages. Two Turkish wild cards will also be handed places in the main event in Antalya. The tournament will be televised by a range of broadcasters worldwide including Eurosport and Matchroom Live.

WST Chairman Steve Dawson said: “We are thrilled to continue snooker’s international expansion by staging a world ranking event in Turkey for the first time. Over the past decade we have made dramatic progress in becoming a truly global sport, and to enter a brand new territory is a further step on that journey.

“We have tracked the growth in interest in snooker in Turkey in terms of television viewing figures and digital audience. This new event will provide a focal point for our sport in the region and it will help us to develop our strategy of building foundations across Europe.

“We are particularly excited to stage this event in Antalya because of the status of the city as an outstanding tourism destination. We have no doubt that the world’s leading players will be delighted with the chance to visit this stunning location while competing for a prestigious title and significant prize money, particularly given the challenges they have faced over the past year.

“We look forward to working with our new partners in Turkey on this fantastic project. To stage a major sporting event in Antalya will help develop the profile of the city.”

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “Congratulations to Ersan Ercan, President of the Turkish Billiard Federation, his hard working team, and local promoter Tuğba İrten for everything they have done to bring the Turkish Masters to the forefront of snooker’s global calendar. We have no doubt it will become one of the most popular events and destinations on our circuit.”

Antalya – the Pearl of the Mediterranean

Ersan Ercan, President of the Turkish Billiard Federation, added: “I would like to say a sincere thank you to WST for giving us the opportunity to welcome snooker to Turkey for the first time in our history.

“We are very excited and work has already begun to make this event one of the best on the calendar. I can assure those who attend of one thing, and that is they will fall in love with Antalya.”

Antalya is a marvellous place with a rich Greek, Roman and even Persian history. Tradional cuisine should be excellent as well… for those who know better than burgers and kebabs. Expect hot weather at that time of the year though…

I’m a bit surprised at Turkey interest in snooker. Their “traditional” game is 3-cushions billiards, a discipline they excel at. Turkey has produced top 3-cushions billiards players over the years, but none more famous than the great Semih Sayginer, the Turkish Prince.

For those of you who know nothing about 3-cushions here it is in short: there are three balls on the table: a white, a red, a yellow. One of the players plays with the white, the other one with the yellow. the goal is to score points. To score a point, the player at the table has to hit the red and his opponent’s ball, in any order, but before they hir the second ball they need to have hit at leat three cushions. The player stays at the table as long as they score. It’s simple… not!

Here is a short video featuring two of the best exponents of that discipline: Semih Sayginer and Torbjorn Blomdahl

Anyway…

What annoys me with this event is that Turkey is not a great country when it comes to respecting human rights. They have very recently withdrawn from the Istanbul convention , basically making domestic violence against women and girls legal. They also have a history of violence towards ethnic or religious minorities and even genocide, most notably against Armenians and Kurds.

More down to earth… it will be interesting to see if Ronnie will enter, given that, unless he’s drawn against a wildcard, he will likely need to qualify. And if he doesn’t, if he will give any reason for it other than not liking the qualifiers…

In general, I’m curious to see if any player with a moral compass AND politically informed will say anything.

Tour News – Provisional 2021/22 Calendar and more

WST has yesterday announced the provisional calendar for the coming season:

2021-22 Snooker Calendar Announced

The provisional calendar for the 2021/22 World Snooker Tour has been released.

Click here for the 2021-22 calendar

WST staged 18 events during the 2020/21 season despite the challenges posed by the global pandemic, and is now working towards a packed schedule for the coming campaign.

The season will start with the Championship League in July, which will be a ranking event open to all 128 tour players, promoted by Matchroom Multi Sport.

The four Home Nations events will take place between October and March, while the Cazoo Series of three events will run between December and April.

Snooker’s Triple Crown events remain ever-present with the UK Championship to take place in York in November and December, followed by the Masters in London in January and the Betfred World Championship in Sheffield at the end of the season.

There are five more ranking events on the calendar early in 2022 – the Shoot Out, German Masters, European Masters, China Open and Gibraltar Open. The invitational Champion of Champions will take place in Bolton in November.

Several other weeks have been allocated throughout the season for potential ranking events, with further news to follow.

WST Chairman Steve Dawson said: “We are now working flat out on our calendar for the coming season, and particularly looking towards locations outside the UK. We are determined to get back to the territories around the globe where we have nurtured growth over the past decade, such as China, Germany, Gibraltar and others, while also planning ventures into new markets.

“Over the past year we have been at the forefront of sport in terms of keeping our tour going and maintaining earning opportunities for our players, by staging events in Covid-safe environments in the UK. But we hope it will be possible in the coming season to venture overseas and to welcome crowds to all of our UK events. We are working closely with governments in the UK and abroad to determine what can be achieved.

“At this stage the calendar is a work in progress as we explore all opportunities and we will make further announcements in due course.”

The Home Nations events will have a new structure this season, with a qualifying round for players seeded outside the top 16. All players will start in the same round, but the top 16 will play their opening matches at the final venue.

Further updates on the calendar including venues and ticketing will be announced when available.

This is the thing …

VeryProvisional2021:22Calendar

Interestingly there are 12 days in August for “qualifiers”, likely for the for the first home nations as well as potential ranking events in September and October. And there are other qualifiers early February, likely for the European Masters, Welsh Open and the potential ranking event just before the China Open, the only event currently confirmed in China so far. But maybe there will be more of those Chinese events and if “grouped” it will be better for the players, who will not need to travel through time zones as much as they did in the past.

Regarding the Home Nations, they will still be played over a week, with 79 matches to be played instead of 127. Will it be less tables and more matches on television, or a longer format, or maybe even both?

Other than that WST have announced the season’s awards.

No real surprises there. Just happy for Pang Junxy to get the “Rookie of the year” accolade.

In short:

WST Awards: 2020/21 winners
Player of the Year – Judd Trump
Fans’ Player of the Year – Judd Trump
Snooker Journalists’ Player of the Year – Mark Selby
Performance of the Year – Mark Selby
Rookie of the Year – Pang Junxu
Magic Moment of the Year – Neil Robertson
Hall of Fame: Judd Trump, Brandon Parker

 

2021/22 Tour News

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.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ENTRY PACK

Q School has been running since 2011 and gives all amateur players the chance to qualify for the professional tour.

David Gilbert came through Q School and is now a top 16 star

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.

View the provisional tour structure for the 2021/22 season.

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.

 

 

More Tour News – Next season tour cards

WST has yesterday published its intentions regarding next season’s tour cards:

2021/22 World Snooker Tour Cards

The WPBSA and WST have today jointly announced the provisional tour structure for the 2021/22 World Snooker Tour.

As in previous seasons, the top 64 players on the official world ranking list following the Betfred World Championship will retain their tour cards. They will be joined by players who are currently on the first year of a two-year tour card, as well as the top eight players on the one-year ranking list, not already qualified for next season.

Three-time ranking event winner Marco Fu will be offered an invitational tour card

The tour will be completed by players who are able to successfully qualify through recognised tour qualification pathways, including WST Q School, the World Women’s Snooker Tour, the CBSA China Tour and the Regional Federations recognised by the World Snooker Federation (WSF).

Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic which has meant that events such as the WSF Open and WPBSA Q Tour have not been staged this season, a minimum of two additional places will be added to Q School as an interim measure for next season.

Current European champion Andrew Pagett is also set to join the main tour after his tour card for the 2020/21 season was deferred on medical grounds.

Marco Fu will be offered an Invitational Tour Card due to his outstanding achievements in the sport. The Hong Kong player has missed a number of events over the past year due to travel restrictions.

The full qualification list is set out below:

Top 64 from the two-year Prize Money World Rankings after the 2021 World Championship: 64

Players awarded a two-year Tour card for the 2020/2021 season (not already qualified): 28*

 Top 8 players from 2020/2021 one-year ranking list following the 2021 World Championship (not already qualified)** 8

 CBSA China Tour** 4

 Q School** 14

 World Women’s Snooker Qualifiers** 2

 EBSA European Qualifiers** 2

 APBSF Asia Pacific Qualifier** 1

 PABSA Americas Qualifier** 1

 ABSC Africas Qualifier** 1

 Deferred Tour Place** 1

 Invitational Tour Cards** up to 2

 Total: 128

*Final total subject to change if any of these players finish inside of the top 64 of the two-year prize money rankings after the 2021 World Championship

**Players will receive a two-year tour card

In addition to these confirmed places, any players who qualify for the final stages of the Betfred World Championship at the Crucible, who otherwise would not earn a new tour card, will also receive a two-year tour card, as was the case last season.

The last paragraph suggests that the Q-school might be held during the World Championship, although there is no reason for that if the World is held at it’s usual spot in the calendar, which is very likely to be the case. That said, I wouldn’t be against automatically giving a new tour card in the future, to any player qualifying for the Crucible, who otherwise would not earn a new tour card or stay on tour. This is a massive effort and a true test.