World Snooker’s new Q School will replace the Pontin’s International Open Series as the way amateurs can qualify for the professional circuit.

Q School consists of three week long tournaments played at the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield.

The four semi-finalists in each will qualify for the main tour in 2011/12.

The closing date for entries, which cost £1,000, is March 1, although there are separate criteria for professionals who drop off the circuit at the end of the season.

Unlike in previous years, they can return immediately rather than spend a year in the green baize wilderness.

Amateur players who enter Q School must be members of their national governing body.

The new qualifying system is based on a similar model in golf.

I’m sure most amateurs would prefer a proper Challenge Tour but it isn’t World Snooker’s job to organise one.

The PIOS consisted of eight events, worth £3,000 to the winner of each with the top eight qualifying for the pro circuit.

Amateurs can now play in the 12 Players Tour Championship tournaments, which gives them good match practice and the chance to earn prize money.

But there are no qualifying places for the main tour at the end of it.

Q School is consistent with Hearn’s ethos: the rewards are there if you are good enough.

But restricting a qualifying system to the space of a single month will mean any players suffering from illness or unable to get time off work for such a long period will be disadvantaged.

On the other side of the coin, if you are a player from outside the UK it would be easier to attend a qualifying event that lasts a few weeks than have to keep flying back and forth to the UK, or even base yourself here full time.

Q School is also a way of raising money for World Snooker coffers. An entry of 500 players would net the company half a million, to be reinvested in other events.

Is Q School a fair qualifying system?

In some ways it’s not unlike the old pro-ticket qualifiers of the 1980s. It takes away the season-long qualifying tour but, with the PTCs, doesn’t actually reduce opportunities for amateurs.

There are four more places available through Q School than there were through the PIOS.

But, under any system, the cream should rise to the top. If a player really is good enough not just to turn professional but also to have a successful career than they will make it regardless of the qualifying set up.

The Q School site is here.


Redandblackblog said...

The only thing I question with this QSchool is that the four semi-finalists will get a place on the main tour. There's a chance somebody could effectively get a fairly easy draw and sneak into the semi's while other stronger players meet in the quarters for example a one misses out. Surely a better system would be for each winner to earn a place and then the remaing players qualify based on points?

The Snooker Oracle said...

" If a player really is good enough not just to turn professional but also to have a successful career than they will make it regardless of the qualifying set up."

That is the long and short of it.

kildare cueman said...

The idea of a Q school is good but £1000 per person is far too expensive.

World Snooker should be ashamed of itself for gross profiteering at the expense of kids trying to fulfil their dreams, because, lets face it, many of the entrants will be just that.

Janie Watkins said...

Just to pop a blatent plug on Dave!

From January through to April we are running a series of 4 events called QSP

We noticed that after the PTCs finish there is a gap in the calender with no events for the aspiring amateurs.

So the QSP aims to plug that gap and give the players the chance to continue to compete in quality events in the tournament conditions, down at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester

For those who don't already know the venue, we have 8 match booths, 4 practice tables and a matchroom arena, all fitted out with the Star Tables by the World snooker table fitters.

see www.southwestsnookeracademy.com for more information about how to enter.

Anonymous said...

dont 4get the quiz 2moro mate

shaun said...

a grand does sound a bit steep but if the entrants local club are anything like ours then im sure they will help raise some readies with comps and footy cards etc and can i just say the world open was great and there seemed to be a lot more seats filled.Finally snooker seems to be back on the up

Anonymous said...

£1000 per person is a bit too much, the q school is a good idea but the entry fee should be £500 to give more amateurs a chance to cover their costs.

southerner said...

If a player gets to the semis in the first event, will he be allowed to enter the remaining 2 events?
If the same people get to all three lots of semis, there will be less than 12 people qualified to go through!

Anonymous said...

£1000 is about right. Think how much students have to pay out at the start of their career path.

Corben Gallas said...

@ southerner

"Each player’s name will be included in the draw for each of the 3 Q School tournaments but because a player can only qualify once, those players who are successful in the first and second tournaments will be withdrawn from subsequent Q School tournaments and players who they were drawn against will receive byes into the next round."
From Q School website.

Anonymous said...

No-one is going to want to sponsor a qualifying competition so it has to be funded by entry fees -

The PGA European Tour Qualifying school (which this is modelled on) has an entry fee of £1350 - however total prize money on the European Tour is probably about £80million (even taking into account the PTC the total for snooker is probably less than £5m)

Anonymous said...

I Believe There should be Pro Ticket Route through the PTC For Amateurs as well but there isn't which is a shame.

Executor said...

Interesting idea that one, and completely new to me since particularly golf is not my area of interest. Pluses and minuses in it, as there always are when something new is being implemented. Pretty high entry fee as well, but on the other side it could limit the entries to an acceptable number and hopefuly allow only those who meet the standards to enter. Of course, money and talent do not necessarily go hand-in-hand especially when you are young and just starting to kick your career off... Not being sure about how exactly players would qualify, though - I don't agree that just being good enough wins you a card. The system of the Q School allows for lottery and a player could qualify who under "normal" circumstances (like PIOS, or some other kind of long-time qualification) would not have a chance. Is that fair? But in the full picture, this Q School of Hearn's might work after all and bring some fresh air and interesting names into the Main Tour in years to come.

Speaking about which, there is an interesting (disturbing would be better, I'd say) post on Matt's ProSnookerblog. In the wake of the World Open, Q School announcement and all the changes and excitemet from this beginning season, I just can't believe this could be happening. Any thought about that, Dave?

Anonymous said...

I find it a bit disconcerting that the information on that site is only available in English. Not exactly making it very accessible to Chinese or Thai players.

Mignon said...

Anon 7:41

....speaking of which, what do you think about the nightmare of navigating through the Chinese sites (esp during the WPBSA events in China)?... As for the Thai Association site, it used to have an English language section, now practically gone. Also the Asian Snooker Association site used to be updated at a reasonably good rate - not quite so lately.

Betty Logan said...

Clearly the next thing Barry Hearn needs to do is set up a website written in Esperanto.

Anonymous said...

In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Am not against this idea. Go back a decade and everyone was at the Norbreck Castle Hotel for a qualifying summer so it certainly has its plus points to getting everything over and done with.

I did like the idea of the PIOS tour. I thought they may have looked at keeping it on for a season now they have moved from the inadequate (for sport) Prestatyn to Sheffield, where at least players would've felt at little bit more at home on good conditions.

I wonder why they couldn't have improved the PIOS with more money, few more tournaments et al.

Moving forward though so all good.

Thanks, Joe

PS any more news on Stephen Lee?