As we enter the last day of the Q-School Event 2, these are the remaining last 16
The first quarter features two young players who have never been pros – Long Zehuang is 22, Dean Young is 17 – a potential “returning” pro, Chen Zifan who is only 23, and a “veteran”, Au Chi Wai, who has never been pro but has been playing on the WSS tour last season and in CBSA events over the years. I would be happy with whoever qualifies from this quarter. I would normally favour younger players, but after this by a BBC journalist
I would be more than happy to see Au Chi Wai through. I never bought the concept of “positive discrimination” (no, not even when it’s about pushing women … ). Except the odd one-off occasion, where commercial or promotional aspects can be considered, things have to happen on merit. Full stop. As I wrote on twitter, “If you’re good enough, you’re young enough”.
The second quarter is a bit similar: three young players, none of them ever a pro before – Callum Lloyd (24), Riley Parsons (19) and Peifan Lei (15) – and a veteran, potential “returning pro”, Peter Lines. Ideally I would like to see one of the teenagers come through. Peifan Lei however is only 15 and, if he qualifies as a pro, I hope he will get the right people around him. It’s hard for anyone to be alone, very far away from home and family, in an alien culture, and probably needing to learn a foreign language as well. It’s even harder when you’re so very young.
In the third quarter we have again two young players – Louis Heathcote (20) and Si Jiahui (16) – facing two slightly more mature players – Jamie McArdle (33) and Simon Blackwell (26). None of those four have been professional before, so we are guaranteed a new face on the main tour. Again, I’d marginally prefer to see the one of the youngest two go through, provided that Ji Jiahui gets the proper support net, should he be the one emerging from this group.
Finally, the fourth and last quarter features only former professionals. None of them were on the tour in 2018/19. I don’t really care who comes through this one, although have “Paggy” back on tour holds the promise of some “made in Wales” fun and banter on social media 😉 … Willo, I’m sure, is already getting ready.
Both Peifan Lei and Si Jiahui are currently in the top 4 of the Order of Merit.
Other than that, Iulian Boiko, at 13 the youngest player in the draw, was beaten, in round 3, in a deciding frame by Billy Joe Castle in a high quality match; in the process he made a century – in only 5 minutes – to definitely become the youngest “centurion” in professional competition. Iulian is currently 37th in the Q-school order of merit, not high enough to qualify through it, but certainly high enough to get top-up invites during the coming season.
Ng On Yee, the only women remaining at that stage, lost to Peter Lines by 4-1 in round 3. This was somehow a “rematch” of their World Championship 2016 qualifiers round 1 encounter, where Peter beat her 10-1.