A record 174 players have entered World Snooker’s 2016 Q School, all bidding for the chance to join the professional tour.
They will all head to the Meadowside Leisure Centre in Burton from May 11 to compete for places on the World Snooker Tour. There are eight two-year tour cards up for grabs, to be awarded to the semi-finalists in each of two tournaments.
Those eight players will then compete in snooker’s biggest tournaments around the globe on the pro circuit, for total prize money which will top £9million for the first time next season.
The 174 competitors are from 19 different countries including China, India, Israel, Pakistan and the USA. Last year there were 166 entries, and the previous year 145.
They will be joined by any current professional players who drop off the tour at the end of this season and decide to attempt to bounce straight back via Q School.
Joe Delaney, Greg Casey, Jason Devaney and Daniel O’Regan are among the Irish who have entered.
Top female players Reanne Evans and Ng On Yee, American pool specialist Corey Deuel, Germany’s promising Lukas Kleckers and former Crucible semi-finalist Andy Hicks are also among those in the field.
Players who don’t earn one of the eight tour cards will be placed on a Q School Order of Merit and the best of those could still gain entry to ranking events next season where the draws are not filled by tour players.
World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “I’m delighted to see record numbers at Q School. What this shows above anything is that there has never been a better time to be a snooker player. Our tour is growing fast, with new major ranking events added to the calendar next season. Prize money is at record levels and is still increasing year by year. The opportunities are incredible.
“These 174 men and women are determined to seize that opportunity and earn a place on the tour. The standard at Q School will be very high and the competition for those coveted eight tour cards will be fierce. No doubt they will all be practising hard for the next five weeks to make sure they are ready. I look forward to seeing which of them make it through.”
For a full list of Q School entrants see www.worldsnookerqschool.com/order-of-merit