Wednesday night, a Facebook live webinar was held discussing top amateur snooker.
The main topics were how to improve the two top main events on the amateur circuit – the Challenge Tour and World Snooker Tour’s QSchool.
The two-hour webinar had players, fans, and people who have been involved in some way in amateur snooker, whether it be helping out in the events, playing in them, writing about them, or organizing them.
It proved fruitful with ideas.
Watch the discussion in the video:
Amateur snooker is a multi-faceted subject, and there is so much to debate and discuss, but in the video, the main topics were Challenge Tour and QSchool and something briefly on the set-up of organisations involved. Some very good points raised.
But first, what are Challenge Tour and QSchool for those who don’t know.
The Challenge Tour
The Challenge Tour is not a new concept by any means but in terms of the modern era under Barry Hearn, it is new and began a couple of years ago. Its design was to give top amateurs a leg up onto the main tour through a qualification over a series of 10 events. The benefits are that players get to feel what it’s like playing in events where there are similar conditions to those on the pro tour. However, some players have complained that the second year of the CT was anything but ideal in playing conditions.
Its two years shall we say “trial” has had mixed reactions from players.
some players have said conditions were great on year one.
Others have said that conditions on year two were a lot to be desired.
Some have said the expense puts players off from traveling around the world to different countries. Previously, the CT was known as the WPBSA minor tour, and, then, known as the UK tour in the 1990s/2000s.
Some say that regardless of playing conditions, the cream of the crop will rise to the top.
And it generally does in amateur or pro circles.
In 2018, it was hailed as a significant mark in giving top amateurs of any gender a chance to play in events with the incentive of a card or two at the end. The Order of Merit also gives the opportunity for players to accumulate as many points as they can to be considered for top-ups or wildcards in pro events.
When previous amateur tours were scrapped, it was generally down to lack of numbers. Generally, it’s the case up to 64 players compete, although that’s not necessarily always the case as some don’t play or decide to enter. Generally, the field comprises ex-pros who’ve recently dropped off, or those who’ve dropped off in previous seasons. You will generally come across the same names again and again.
And here’s the point:
The amateur snooker scene needs to focus from the bottom up, NOT the top down.
So, what deters players from playing in events? It’s three things in SnookerZone’s view.
- Funding (both from the organizations involved and the cost for players
- lack of a proper set-up (if you watch Michael Waring’s commentary (the founder of Snookerhub.co.uk) on the video above, he makes the valid point (and to paraphrase) that amateur snooker should be treated like a business where the organization involved has a proper structure, pays its people properly without constantly having to rely on volunteers or gracious gestures from people to help out ( and invests in better resources and then, from there more advertising can be done.
- Lack of information on anything. For example, how much do newbies know about the potential routes to becoming a pro? Do even those who’ve been playing a while know? Who knows about the set-up? Where’s the information? Who is running the amateur set-up?
Amateur snooker needs a Barry Hearn type character who is business savvy, understands snooker, and has the drive to drive policies through and to achieve targets and goals, and handle setbacks or problems…
If you have more than £1000 in your bank account and want to become a professional snooker player, you have the opportunity to play in World Snooker Tour’s QSchool. The event played over generally three events plus playoffs, has been going since 2011.
Because it’s an “open” event to anyone, here lies the problem on three counts.
- Some who enter will do it because they can, and are doing it to say, “I played in QSchool…” regardless of whether they wanted a pro ticket.
- Some who enter may well have genuine desires to turn pro, but, sorry to say, they may not cut it and may not be ready for pro status, either now, or in the future.
- Of the number who enter, a small % will genuinely have what it takes to make it at pro level. But even those who do will find the standard jump tough. Some, for example, drop off, jump on again, a bit like waiting for a bus at a bus stop. Sometimes, you have to wait ages for the bus to turn up. Then you might be on and off.
QSchool issues and problems
Is it right that anyone with a grand in cash can turn up and lay claim to a place on QSchool when there are players up and down who’ve worked on their game years to get there on their game?
Qschool should be a selection process where players from outside usual amateur circles should be vetted on simple form questions, such as how long they’ve been playing, what their highest break is (in competition), whether they have played in previous events, whether they’ve had any league experience, and any coaching, etc?
Tough but fair vetting can iron out the thrill-seekers from the true seekers.
SnookerZone believes there is a place for QSchool, but just less “open” to all and should be for the ones who are serious.
Some who enter are deluding themselves.
There is so much to write about on amateur snooker. Its problems. Its issues. Too much for one post. So SnookerZone will be returning to this at a later date with much more to say and potentially interview some players on the blog. If there are any players who would like to be interviewed for the blog.
Chris Gaynor is a writer with 10 years’ experience writing for the web.
He loves snooker, CSI and loves cycling off tiramisu!