It will be interesting to see how some of the new, younger faces fare in this new season.
With only seven ranking events being contested and 16 players for the chop at the end of the campaign, there isn’t much time to get settled in to life on the circuit. A couple of early defeats and you spend the rest of the season playing catch-up.
This happened to Judd Trump last year. Following a fine junior career, his first match as a professional was against Fergal O’Brien, the vastly experienced former top 16 player and 1999 British Open champion.
Fergal had too much of an all-round game and so Trump was quickly 0/1. This soon became 0/2 when he drew Ding Jun Hui in the first round of the UK Championship. Ding, of course, would go on to win the title.
Trump started to string a few results together as the season continued, extending Michael Holt to 5-4 in the final qualifying round of the China Open before reaching the final stages of the Welsh Open. At 16, he became the youngest ever qualifier for a main venue.
All this helped Trump remain on the circuit, but for those new to ranking event snooker it’s a big ask to stay on for a second year.
Jamie Jones, an 18 year-old Welsh prospect, and David Morris, 17 from Kilkenny, Ireland, are two to watch this season, both having impressed in their national events and in European and world amateur tournaments.
Mark Joyce, the new English amateur champion, also joins the fray and could be one newcomer worth following. He is level-headed enough not to expect too much but possesses a pretty lethal game on his day.
What doesn’t help these players is the labyrinthine qualifying process. For most tournaments they will need to win three matches to reach the final stages; for some it is four.
Because of the uniformly high standards on the circuit, this is akin to swimming through glue.
I wish them all well, but can’t help thinking they’re going to find it a baptism of fire.