Barry Pinches took advantage of a depleted field to capture the third Challenge Tour event of the season in Latvia at the weekend.
The Challenge Tour series, consisting of ten events and providing amateur players with a possible route onto the Main Tour, is supposed to boast a total of 64 players in each tournament.
However, the Riga edition, the first to be staged outside the UK this summer, featured a measly 24 competitors – outlining the potential struggles of getting this initiative off the ground.
A total prize fund across the series of £100,000, with £10,000 allocated to each event and a cheque for £2,000 going for every winner, was originally seen as a positive step in the right direction for the growth of amateur snooker.
While that remains the case, it is becoming increasingly clear that the money on offer isn’t going to be enough to tempt players from across the UK, Europe, and beyond to endure the expense from travel costs, not to mention accommodation and entry fees.
It would have been hoped that the Challenge Tour events held outside the UK would have attracted more entrants from mainland Europe but only four cueists from outside the sport’s traditional home made the effort to compete.
The fact that none of Kevin van Hove, Andreas Ploner, Felix Frede, or Lucky Vatnani reached even the quarter-finals will probably fail to inspire others to make similar trips in future events.
At any rate, with victory on Saturday, veteran Pinches launched himself into contention for the two pro tickets that are on offer come the end of this campaign for the best two performers across the entire series.
The 48 year-old, a former PTC minor ranking event winner, enjoyed a bye into the last 16, where he comfortably overcame fellow Englishman Charlie Walters 3-0 before repeating the scoreline against Mitchell Mann in the last eight.
Pinches was forced all the way in both his semi-final and final encounters but ultimately had too much for Jamie Curtis-Barrett and young Jackson Page as he sealed success with a brace of deciding frame triumphs.
The fourth event, which coincides with the Paul Hunter Classic, takes place in Furth towards the end of August.