The 2018/19 season is barely over but thoughts immediately turn to the next campaign with the 2019 snooker Q School beginning on Saturday in Wigan.
Three tournaments contested across just over a fortnight will see 16 amateur players graduate onto the Main Tour.
The four semi-finalists from each event will guarantee a potentially lucrative ticket onto the pro circuit.
As outlined by Barry Hearn during the World Championship recently, an additional four spots will be granted to the highest placed competitors on a separate Order of Merit list.
Snooker Q School has been running since 2011 and has become the most accessible gateway from the amateur set-up into the higher echelons of the sport.
Players can find form at just the right time and emerge as surprise packages to join the professional ranks.
With a two-year tour card made available to all qualifiers, there’s the opportunity there to make one’s name in the game.
Every round in Q School follows the short best of seven frames format, which can often be a leveller and subsequently makes it difficult to predict who will emerge as a graduate each year.
With more than 200 hopefuls attempting to earn their spots in the 2019/20 line-up, it is sure to be a hard-fought couple of weeks at Robin Park Leisure Centre.
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A small percentage of the 200 in action are players who are looking to bounce immediately back onto the Main Tour, having just been relegated in their failure to break inside the world’s top 64 in the official rankings.
Among those are Peter Lines, Rory McLeod, Robin Hull, Xu Si, and Alexander Ursenbacher, while veteran journeyman Paul Davison is another who’ll be seeking another chance at the big-time.
Davison arguably boasts the greatest pedigree of anyone in Snooker Q School history after successfully emerging from the test three times in the past.
Elsewhere, there are many cueists who are trying to make a return to the pro scene after a year or several away in the amateur stable.
Former Crucible qualifiers Jamie Cope, Barry Pinches, and Joe Delaney represent a few of the more high-profile names in action.
The latter is among a select few Irish competitors competing – among them recent Irish National Championship runner-up Josh Boileau and the European under-18 champion Aaron Hill.
Andy Hicks, the 1995 World Championship semi-finalist, and 2013 Indian Open runner-up Aditya Mehta are also bidding to seal a Main Tour berth.
Many people will be keenly following the progress of multiple world champions Ng On Yee and Reanne Evans from the World Women’s Tour.
In truth, a significant portion of the entry list will fancy their chances of making it through while the rest are probably just daring to dream and will ultimately only serve to make up the numbers.
A lot will probably depend on the luck of the draw and whether or not they can replicate the kind of form that they have been capable of in the past, or are used to producing in practice.
Either way, it’s an important time of the snooker calendar and the possible riches that await the winners will likely lead to plenty of elation and despair over the coming weeks.