Brandon Sargeant beat fellow Englishman Luke Simmonds 3-1 to capture the inaugural Challenge Tour event in Burton on Sunday.
The new Challenge Tour is a series consisting of ten tournaments that are set to be staged throughout the UK and across Europe during the 2018/19 campaign.
A prize fund of £10,000 is on offer for each event, with Sargeant pocketing a neat £2,000 for his efforts following the two-day competition.
A total of 64 players from Q School’s Order of Merit are supposed to compete in each Challenge Tour event, plus a handful of extra add-ons at the discretion of the WPBSA.
However, the field for event one at the Meadowside Leisure Centre, the same venue that was used for Q School in May, stood at a disappointingly low 59 entrants.
This caused quite a big stir on social media with many questioning the current players’ attitude and commitment to succeed in the game.
The “it was better in my day” gang was out in full force and there wasn’t much forgiveness from some circles with so many of the high-performing competitors from Q School opting to skip the weekend event.
One can somewhat understand their viewpoint, considering that the Challenge Tour is finally providing a regular opportunity for amateur players to compete on a proper circuit, with the prize of two Main Tour cards on offer at the end for the top two ranked performers.
Yet, the flipside of the coin is that it did seem a touch unreasonable to expect the majority of the players at Q School, many having travelled long distances and forked out a small fortune in order to participate in the three events that lasted more than a fortnight, to enter something else immediately after its conclusion.
The naysayers will argue that these players, if they really have an overall objective of becoming professionals, should be willing to make any sacrifice necessary in order to fulfil that ambition.
There is some weight in that but perhaps this was just a little harsh and a slight oversight on behalf of the organisers as to what can reasonably be expected of these participants.
The low turnout, which had players who didn’t even win a game at Q School in action, will be cause for concern for the remainder of the tournaments this season, especially those that are set to be staged outside of the UK where even more costs will be undertaken.
Still, while there were a few other hiccups too, like a lack of live scoring and an apparent shortage of referees, the Challenge Tour remains a potentially terrific platform on paper for amateur players to gain a foothold onto the elite ranks.
Sargeant, meanwhile, has put himself in a strong position at the start of the term to challenge for those Main Tour slots, winning four out of his five encounters before the final courtesy of 3-2 deciding frame clinchers.
The 2016 European Under-21 Championship runner-up counted former pro Mitchell Mann and rising Welsh star Jackson Page among his victims before edging Simmonds, who had previously beaten David Grace, in the final showdown.
The second Challenge Tour event will take place at the Guild Hall in Preston next month.