Thor Chuan Leong regained his place on the Main Tour by emerging with one of the final four spots from this year’s Q School in Burton on Thursday.
The Malaysian, who dropped off the circuit at the conclusion of the last campaign, ended the hopes of Ireland’s Greg Casey 4-0 in the penultimate round before accounting for Fang Xiongman at the final hurdle to gain a fresh two-year professional card.
The 30 year-old will be joined by a couple of newcomers as Q School 3 wrapped up at the Meadowside Leisure Centre following a gruelling fortnight of snooker.
Welshman Kishan Hirani dispatched of Irish national champion Michael Judge in the second last round – the second time in the three tournaments that he had achieved a victory over the highly-fancied Dubliner – before edging another former pro in Simon Bedford to achieve professional status for the first time in his career.
Ashley Carty, who twice reached the last 32 of a ranking event as an amateur, will also be hoping to make his mark in the elite ranks as he sealed his berth with a 4-2 success against Himanshu Dinesh Jain of India.
Meanwhile, 37 year-old Andy Lee became the surprise package of the event as he emerged through the field with an unlikely ticket, now representing Hong Kong after previously featuring on the Main Tour for England a decade ago.
Lee overcame Kuldesh Johal 4-2 in the final round having ousted former World Championship semi-finalist Andy Hicks by the same margin in the previous round.
The quartet of Thor, Hirani, Carty, and Lee will join Hammad Miah, Sam Craigie, Sam Baird, Jak Jones, Craig Steadman, Zhao Xintong, Lu Ning, and Jordan Brown – who all managed to graduate from Q School in the first two events.
Defeat for the runners-up will undoubtedly be agonising after coming so close to fulfilling their ambition but some consolation for those who performed well over the last three weeks will be the inaugural season of the Challenge Tour that gets under way in Burton this weekend.
Ten tournaments, comprising the top 64 in the Q School Order of Merit – based on frames won during the three events – and a number of invited amateurs, will be contested during the 2018/19 term.
They will have the opportunity to fight for the top two spots on the Challenge Tour rankings list, where a Main Tour prize will be on offer again come the climax of next season.
But for the dozen who made it beyond Q School, the next step in their careers starts immediately as they try to make an impact on the professional game.