The 2019/20 Challenge Tour will introduce a new play-off system with two coveted spots again set to be awarded onto the professional Main Tour.
The Challenge Tour was launched last year in a bid to increase the levels of competitive snooker among the amateur ranks.
English duo Brandon Sargeant and David Grace topped the order of merit standings and were granted with two-year tour cards.
However, the initiative wasn’t without its teething problems and of particular concern was the low entry numbers into the majority of the ten tournaments.
The same number of events will be staged on the 2019/20 Challenge Tour, with six set to be held in the UK and four across Europe.
And instead of awarding automatic promotion to the top two performers over the entire series, the highest 16 earners will advance to a final tournament in which the winning semi-finalists will earn a pro ticket.
Like last time, there will be £10,000 worth of prize money on offer from each event.
In order for players to have a chance of taking part, they must first enter the 2019 Q School, with entries for that competition closing on Wednesday at 12pm.
The announcement has garnered mixed reaction from players and fans alike.
One of the main problems with the Challenge Tour last season was that players who lost early in a few of the earlier events probably felt that their chances of finishing in the top two were all but over.
A play-off format will hopefully then encourage more cueists to continue entering in the hope of the realistic goal of making it into the top 16.
However, it seems strange to completely write off the achievements of those who are consistent enough to finish high up on the standings after the ten events are completed.
Going by this campaign’s Challenge Tour order of merit, Sargeant and Grace – who won three tournaments between them – could end up going out to 16th placed Oliver Brown, who didn’t manage a single semi-final appearance.
A balance between one or two automatic positions and an additional spot being awarded from the play-offs could have been a more appropriate compromise.
Still, the 2019/20 Challenge Tour should now prove to be an extremely open affair, which should lead to an increase in players taking part.
Terrible decision, the person who finishes top must get an automatic tour card and play off for the other imo https://t.co/Bu6c7Wdj80
— Joe Perry (@joegentlemanjoe) March 26, 2019
Very disappointing for amateur snooker in my opinion. Work hard all year, get to number one on challenge tour, potentially winning all 10 events and your reward?….. a playoff? 😂😂😂 https://t.co/66u949yuaH
— Mark Allen (@pistol147) March 26, 2019
Absolutely ridiculous decision I thought @BarryHearn wanted to reward winners so after a series of ten events you finish number 1 how does that only get you into a playoff??
— Alfie Burden (@ABOFLONDON) March 25, 2019
Not new; reverts back to the old ‘Amateur Tour’. Instead, drop 4 places from Q School, give 4 to CT; Top 6 players promoted to MT at end of CT season – rewarded for consistency. 8 players qualify from Q School, 6 players from CT every year. It’s disappointing for amateur snooker. https://t.co/MgA8VQRGDH
— Sydney Wilson (@sydneywilsonjr) March 25, 2019
Criteria for the 2019/20 Challenge Tour
- The top 56 players from the 2019 Q School ranking list
- Eight Wildcards, to be selected with the intention to promote the development of grassroots talent
- If necessary, the last-64 round will then be topped up with players on the Q School ranking list
- The top 56 players from the 2019 Q School ranking list. All 56 will be directly entered into the last 64.
- Eight Wildcards, to be selected with the intention to promote the development of grassroots talent.
- An unlimited number of further entrants will compete in pre-qualifying stages, playing down to the available places in the last 64.
Further details including the dates and locations of the events will be confirmed when available.
Q School 2019 takes places in Wigan in May with 12 World Snooker Tour cards available.
The closing date for entry is this Wednesday March 27th at 12pm. For all details see www.worldsnooker.com/q-school