Last season saw the inaugural Snookerbacker Classic event, run by well-known fellow blogger Snookerbacker.com.
The overall prize: Free entry into Q-School (plus entry fees into four PTC events). The overall winner: Martin O’Donnell. The overall outcome: O’Donnell gaining his place on the professional Main Tour via Q-School.
This is a grass-roots snooker tournament run at its very best and, while successful during its first staging, there is continuing evidence that the event will continue to grow into one of the most sought after amateur prizes.
The triumph for England’s O’Donnell in Q-School, known as simply as MOD, was the icing on the cake and added gloss to what would have been an already fairly simple task at enticing entrants for a second helping this season.
For Q-School is what it is all about for the amateur players nowadays. To gain access onto the pro circuit is to have your chance at the big time and mix your talent and skill with the stars of the sport.
As the Main Tour grows and the influx of tournaments and prize money increases so too will the importance of being involved within the inner circle intensify.
Played over the best-of-7 frames, the SB Classic both gives players the opportunity to hone their skills on a format that will be used during Q-School while simultaneously giving them the chance to experience battle with those they are likely to compete against during the three-week winner-takes-all battle in May.
Q-School may not offer prize money, but it is the most lucrative tournament in snooker.
The 2013 SB Classic is already in full swing with both the Leeds (16 players) and Gloucester (64 players) qualifying legs now fully booked up.
Dublin was lucky enough to stage a qualifying tournament last January at CrossGuns Snooker Club in Phibsboro and, despite what can only be described as a disappointing turnout, the city is fortunate enough to have been included once again.
Several forces conspired to ensure it was as difficult as possible for the amateur players in Ireland to compete in the event last time around but there should be no such hassle on this occasion – with the 26th January, 2013 a sealed and approved date.
John Sutton was the losing finalist in the SB Classic Grand Finals in 2012, thus also earning the £1,000 entry fee into Q-School, and narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Main Tour himself.
With only two Irish players on the pro circuit this year it is important that a new wave of talent is encouraged to emerge from the pack, and the Classic is the first stepping stone to achieving such success.
Interest this year has already been higher with ten out of the 16 places, which costs £40 (around €50), already filled.
Places are also still up for grabs in the London and Hartlepool qualifying legs in November and December respectively.