Q School’s out as 16 graduates now jump on the World Snooker Tour bus
For some, it’s not a new experience, but for three out of the 16, being a full pro for the first time is a dream come true.
Dreams were made and dashed at this year’s annual Q School knockout competition. Over 200 entrants were whittled down to just 16 who won their stripes for 2019.
Those 16 who cracked it now face competing on the grueling 128-man tour with some of the best in the business such as the likes of the class of 92 – Ronnie O’Sullivan and co.
For those who didn’t make it, it’s the old cliché, pick yourself up and dust yourself down and get back on the horse.
However, most of the 16 graduates have already experienced the roller coaster of the professional circuit and been pros before.
A Toast to the Toast of Tavistock
Event three saw Andy Hicks, now 45, a former World Championship semi-finalist back in 1994/95, and who has competed in amateur top-ups and been trying to get back on tour for a while now, earn his spot.
The Cream of Devon, one of his three foodie style nicknames, is back as a full professional and will look to rekindle the success he had back in the 90s.
Newbies on the tour include the ever-determined David Lilley, who graduated from Event One, another one of the over forty guys who has been playing in events as an amateur top up but can now call himself a full professional. A former insurance agent now snooker pro.
China continues to have a steady flow of young players developing all the time and one that seems to have broken through early is Si Jiahui, just 16 years old and who has also turned professional through the Q School Order of Merit. He had a show of good runs during the three events and was seen as a huge talent by those watching at the Leisure Park, Wigan.
Four from the Order of Merit with the highest number of points will get to play as a full pro.
Iran’s number two player Soheil Vahedi came back for a return to the tour.
A mixed bag of newbies and oldies graduated
Event two saw China’s Chen Zifan, England’s Riley Parsons and Louis Heathcote and Scotland’s Fraser Patrick earn the coveted spots on the 2019/20, 2020/21 World Snooker tour and took up their professional status.
For Chen Zifan and Fraser Patrick, it was rekindling their spots from being ex-pros and for the other two, Parsons and Heathcote it means they will join the professional ranks for the first time in their careers.
Parsons is only 19. Heathcote is 21.
For Chen Zifan, he rejoins the tour after being a highest ranking of 81 and his best finish in a ranking event was the last 32 of the 2017 English Open and European Masters.
Fraser Patrick (see the SnookerZone interview with him here) is 33 and has seen the professional ranks and how it works several times so is no stranger to playing the top flight and top players. He’s reached the Last 32 four times in ranking events.
Heathcote was English Under-21 Champion in Gloucester last year and now earns his spot on the tour.
The full list of Q School Graduates:
· China’s Xu Si
· England’s David Lilley
· England’s Jamie O’Neill
· Iran’s Soheil Vahedi
· China’s Chen Zifan
· England’s Riley Parsons
· England’s Louis Heathcote
· Scotland’s Fraser Patrick
· England’s Barry Pinches
· Malta’s Alex Borg
· Switzerland Alexander Ursenbacher
· England’s Andy Hicks
Order of Merit
On the Order of Merit list, China’s talented 16-year-old Si Jiahui comfortably secured a card along with veteran Peter Lines, a former World Seniors Champion. Billy Joe Castle who had fallen off the tour also is straight back on the bus and another talented 16-year-old Lei Peifan has also secured a spot on the tour from the OOM.
Report by Chris Gaynor. Copywriter for SnookerZone.co.uk