February 6, 2018

Q-School and Challenge Tour Format Announced

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:42 am

It’s back to school for the potters.

As you may know, I always take an interest in any happenings on the amateur circuit and yesterday saw criteria announced for this season’s Q-School as well as the first details emerging of the much anticipated Challenge Tour, a new initiative designed to grow the sport at grass roots level and give the best amateurs more competitive playing opportunities.

Q-School, again held at Meadowside in Burton-on-Trent, has introduced a few changes for this season. Instead of having two events with four qualifiers from each and four further from an Order of Merit, we now have three events where the final four in each will receive a 2 year initial professional tour card. This is also reflected in the entrance fee which has risen (or reverted back if you prefer) from £600 to £1000.

The Challenge Tour is also mentioned and it appears, as expected, that only those willing to fork out the £1000 for Q-School will be eligible to play in it. For those outside of the 12 qualifiers from the 3 events, the top 64 on the Order of Merit will be given the option of competing on the Challenge Tour. The Tour will comprise a series of 10 events, venues yet to be confirmed, which will require a further £50 per event entry fee to be paid by the 64. It is unclear as to whether they will be required to commit to entering all 10 from the outset, or whether this will be done on an event by event basis, my guess would be the former for purely logistical reasons.

Each of the 10 Challenge Tour events will have prize money of £10,000, making a total pot of £100,000 available to the 64 top performing amateurs at Q-School next season, so this has to be a step in the right direction.

What has been announced is basically a carbon copy of an idea that myself and Shaun Murphy pitched back in the day, but I’m not going to ruffle any feathers about that. Anything that addresses the ongoing shortage of quality amateur events in snooker has my full backing and I’d be happy to help out if approached.

It’s a step forward for the amateur game. It’s as close to a semi-professional tour as you’re going to get and for those who perform the best, it might even reap an income that they can live on,  given that I’d estimate that the winner of each one will get at least £2500, though you’ll need to keep an eye on the expenses if any of these events are further afield.

It will be very interesting to see how all this is received. For players serious about the sport who don’t make it through Q-School it’s a chance to really nurture their talent against their peers. I am assuming that at the end of the Challenge Tour the top few will all receive professional cards and assuming that to be the case it seems a natural and long overdue step that snooker is taking here.

I look forward to finding out more about this new initiative for amateurs.  


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